Total overnight visitors accessing the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness via the 10 most popular trailheads reached a new record in 2020, with 18,324 entering the backcountry to camp, according to data collected by the Forest Service.
There is no designated parking near the Lead King Loop trailhead for the trucks and trailers needed to haul the machines. Many in Marble feel this has put the squeeze on their town, population 140, which has limited resources and infrastructure to handle the influx.
This spring, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) completed its analysis of the site and determined that contaminant levels in the material are within the range considered to be non-threatening to human health for a day-use recreation site.
While the commissioners did not enact a de facto moratorium on OHV, ATV and UTV traffic on the county road leading to the Lead King Loop, the discovery of a language error in a county resolution served to elevate the issue.
Gunnison County commissioners expressed concern that an immediate, partial ban would be counterproductive but called for partner agencies to ‘lean in’ to long-term solutions.
An academic study found broad-based concern among residents about “degraded quality of life” related to the increasing number of visitors.
“Overburdening the canyon with unsightly towers and related wireless network infrastructure is in conflict with the environmental ideals that underpin the overall management and stewardship of the corridor,” says an FCC complaint letter.
A nearly $1 million project is “trying to make a natural riffle” where in the past boaters had to navigate over falls created by a weir channeling water to a midvalley diversion ditch. Heavy equipment in and around the river near Willits Lane will see “grade control structures” and other enhancements create a safer passage that could open up that section of water to more recreational use.
More monitoring may be recommended; “We definitely need to dig deeper,” said one Pitkin County official
Greater efficiency, renewable energy storage are implementation goals.