Final public comment period open for proposed Hanging Lake access management plan | SummitDaily.com

Final public comment period open for proposed Hanging Lake access management plan

Vail Daily staff report

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The U.S. Forest Service has released the Draft Environmental Assessment of the Proposed Management Plan for Hanging Lake. This initiates a final 30-day public comment period.

The analysis demonstrates the need for a management plan to protect the natural resources and fragile ecosystem of the lake and trail corridor from the effects of high use. The assessment found that the proposed plan would benefit the fragile ecology of the area by limiting soil compaction to improve soil health, plant viability, stream health and wildlife habit.

“In 2017, we saw 184,000 visitors at Hanging Lake, which is a 23 percent increase in only one year,” District Ranger Aaron Mayville said. “This data further underscores the importance of the long-term management solution, and I’m happy we’re making good progress.”

Increased visitation this year is attributed to the rising popularity of the site, and warm fall and winter weather that has allowed for late-season trail accessibility.

Additionally, the Draft Environmental Assessment found that visitor experience and visitor safety would improve due to reduced crowding and congestion. Implementation of the proposed plan would also allow for greater capacity to provide interpretive and educational programming, further enhancing visitor experiences.

Initial public feedback revealed that the majority of people are supportive of the proposed plan and are interested in providing suggestions for the implementation of the transportation service and the reservation system. Specific details, including cost and how to obtain a permit/reservation, will be determined by the option and/or service provider selected.

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The proposed plan manages the area to a defined daily capacity of 615 users per day, year-round. The proposal utilizes a third-party transportation provider (May to October) in order to allocate the daily capacity which would be managed through a fee-based reservation system year-round. During the “off-peak” season, (November to April) visitors could access the site using their own vehicles.

Written comments must be submitted via mail, fax, electronically or in person (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays) to Aaron W. Mayville, District Ranger, or Paula K. Peterson, Project Leader, P.O. Box 190, Minturn, CO 81645, or via fax to 970-827-9343. Electronic comments including attachments can be submitted through the public comment website. The proposed management plan and associated project documents can be found at the project website.

For additional information, contact Peterson at 970-827-5159 or pkpeterson@fs.fed.us.

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