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Mudslides' impact on Hanging Lake remains unclear

Murky water will likely stick around as Glenwood Canyon continues to experience consistent moisture during the monsoon season.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo — Workers from the United States Forest Service (USFS) haven’t been able to get up to Hanging Lake to survey the impact of last week’s mudslides in Glenwood Canyon.

They’ve only seen the video shot by SKY9 last week.

“We’re seeing a Hanging Lake we’ve never seen before and that’s chocolate milk brown,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, forest supervisor for the White River National Forest.

“We expected after last year’s fire that, at some point, we’re going to get runoff and erosion and sedimentation, and at some point, it’s going to cloud up Hanging Lake.”

When the Grizzly Creek Fire burned above the popular hiking trail last summer, Fitzwilliams said he assumed some of the sediment would make its way into the lake. But forest officials aren’t really sure exactly what source feeds the lake.

“There [are] a lot of cracks and fissures and all these seams that water’s just going through the earth and then it comes up at Hanging Lake,” Fitzwilliams said. “We don’t know where it originates, which makes it hard to figure out why it is brown a little more challenging.”

Fitzwilliams expects the murky water will likely stick around as Glenwood Canyon continues to experience consistent moisture during the monsoon season.

“It’s really hard to say. You know if we get a dry spell and things start to clear out we expect the lake to clear up,” he said.

“It’s going to be an interesting kind of laboratory to watch and analyze what’s going on up there.”

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