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Colorado’s public land managers are trying to figure out how to handle an explosion of people going to parks

Visits to state parks in Colorado’s northeast region increased nearly 48% this spring

John Meyer
The Denver Post
Sunrise over Lake Pueblo State Park in March 2018.
Andy Cross / The Denver Post

DENVER — With state parks observing explosive growth in visitation and Front Range open-space managers wrestling with overcrowding, public land managers have been meeting to discuss solutions, the head of Colorado’s Division of Natural Resources said Wednesday.

In March and April, visitation at state parks in the northeast region — which includes the Denver-Boulder metro area, Fort Collins and many mountain counties east of the Continental Divide — increased nearly 48% over the same period in 2019. Statewide, visitation at state parks increased 18%. Numbers for May are not available yet.

Dan Gibbs, the DNR’s executive director, said the meetings to brainstorm solutions have included federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, along with county and municipal open-space managers. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is an agency of the DNR.

“In some situations, we are exploring one-way trails during this time so we don’t have folks walking over each other,” Gibbs said. “We have certain designated trails designed for mountain bikers and other ones that are more appropriate for trail runners or hikers. Because of COVID-19, we’re seeing a lot more people get outdoors. It’s very important for folks’ mental and physical health, but we’re working to try to manage parking, our trail systems, and really coordinate.”

Gibbs noted that the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park in March had a huge impact on Boulder County open space as outdoor recreationalists sought alternatives. The park reopened last week.

This story is from The Denver Post. Read the full story on denverpost.com.


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