Overnight self-registration now required in Eagles Nest Wilderness | SummitDaily.com

Overnight self-registration now required in Eagles Nest Wilderness

Beginning this spring and summer, overnight campers in the Eagles Nest Wilderness will be required to register via forms at soon-to-be installed boxes at all trailheads and key access points.

The overnight self-registration system is being implemented by the Dillon and Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger Districts of the White River National Forest and will be identical to the one already in place in the Holy Cross Wilderness and several other Colorado wilderness areas.

Registration boxes stocked with forms will be installed at all trailheads and key access points into the wilderness area beginning in mid-May. Information on how to fill out forms will be displayed at trailheads.

In a press release, White River National Forest spokeswoman Kate Jerman said the registration system is being implemented to improve responsible recreation and backcountry ethics among visitors and to improve data collection and monitoring for the Forest Service. Jerman added that information collected on the registration forms will enable the Forest Service to identify where day and overnight use is happening. Jerman also added that registration will not restrict use and will only be required for visitors camping overnight within the wilderness.

"Impacts such as trail widening and braiding from high use, campsite proliferation, illegal campfires, and trash and human waste have been on the uptick for some time, especially near our vulnerable high alpine lakes," said Bill Jackson, Dillon district ranger. "The implementation of a self-registration system in this Wilderness area will help us collect data on visitation numbers. We can also monitor trends for where we are seeing the most use and impacts occur over a long period of time to prioritize trail maintenance, campsite restoration efforts, and ranger patrol activities."

Currently there are 16 trail counters temporarily installed on portions of trails that enter the wilderness to monitor visitation, but these counters do not distinguish overnight and day use.

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Additionally, the Dillon and Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger Districts hope the registration system will improve wilderness education and responsible recreation ethics. As such, the back of the registration forms that will be in the boxes will include a written list of Eagles Nest Wilderness regulations to inform visitors on appropriate behavior while recreating. The Forest Services hopes this gives recreationalists the information they need to make better decisions about overnight travel within the wilderness area.

The Eagles Nest Wilderness was designated in 1976 and is a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Wilderness Act of 1964 mandates that areas within this system provide opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, and are administered in such a way that they are left unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment of the public.

For more information about the self-registration system, you can contact the Dillon district office at 970-468-5400, or the Eagle-Holy Cross district office at 970-827-5715. The offices are also open for stop-in questions during business hours, weekdays 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and 1:30–4:30 p.m.