Sounding an alarm, supporting stewardship
Multiple communications from Pitkin County’s Open Space and Trails staff recently have been sounding an alarm: More and more members of the public are out recreating, increasing pressure on natural resources and stressing land managers’ ability to mitigate impacts.
Data from trail counters and activity logged by open space rangers bears that out, as detailed in Aspen Journalism’s story published this week by Laurine Lassalle. 2020 was a record year in terms of the number of people heading out on trails managed by Pitkin County, resulting in heightened enforcement contacts.
Steeped in volumes of data, Lassalle’s story includes custom interactive graphics showing which open space properties saw the most use and when. Check it out and see how your favorite trail fared in 2020 compared to years past. One notable trend is that high-season use numbers persisted through the autumn months this year.
All eyes now turn to the coming warm months. The big question is whether activity levels will remain elevated as the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped drive the spike in outdoor recreation, winds down. Will the backcountry still be as busy as shopping malls, bars and baseball stadiums reopen? Land managers appear to be betting that it will, and are hiring an additional seasonal county open space ranger and have secured a $90,825 grant that will support increased trails stewardship in summers to come.
— Curtis Wackerle, editor
By Laurine Lassalle | March 17, 2021
“This use, combined with new patterns of social distancing, has translated into visible impacts and degradation on the land,” according to OST director Tennenbaum. Read more.
By Laurine Lassalle | March 18, 2021
Pitkin County’s seven-day incidence rate remains one of the highest in the state as officials deal with what the county manager described as “rollercoaster” in terms of vaccine availability. Read more.
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