Pay-to-Stay: Fees Proposed for Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
The Forest Service wants your input on a plan to charge for a new permit system at another one of Colorado's most iconic destinations.
The USDA Forest Service wants your input on a plan to charge overnight campers at the iconic Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area. The exhaustive proposal can be read here, but I’ll summarize the key points below:
All overnight campers need a permit for the park’s most visited areas
Permits cost $12 per night, plus a $6 processing fee from Recreation.gov
They would be required from May 1st — October 31st
For the remainder of the year, you still need a permit, but need only pay the $6 processing fee
Permits would be required for Conundrum Hot springs, the “Four Pass Loop,” Geneva Lake, and Capitol Lake
If approved: permits would be required beginning in the spring of 2022
The Forest Service would not rule out expanding the permit system in the future
Inter-agency or senior pass discounts cannot be applied here
You can submit your comments here until September 15th
The rationale behind this is similar to what we’ve been seeing so far. Take a look at the impacted area in the map:
I’ll also notify you of any changes that move forward if you input your email at the link above — promise not to spam your inbox!
The Forest Service says the fees are necessary for a few reasons, which all stem from overcrowding. This problem has already led to tight restrictions on a slew of other popular destinations, including Grays, Torreys, and DeCaLiBron.
With increased foot traffic comes increased impact on the surrounding environment. The Forest Service proposal says it will use the money to clean trash, perform trail maintenance, improve trailhead information, and increase ranger presence in the area.
Based on the proposal, the Forest Service
maintains a fee system is the only option, positing in its proposal:
If the Forest Service doesn’t collect permit fees for the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, long-term protection goals will not be accomplished, and treasured destinations, such as the Four Pass Loop, Snowmass Lake, Geneva Lake and Capitol Lake, will be at risk. Camping impacts and damage will continue to proliferate in high-use areas, and new impacts will appear in areas that were previously pristine. Preventative services provided by Wilderness Rangers will decrease, and the improper disposal of human waste and trash and dangerous human-wildlife interactions will increase. It is likely that visitor satisfaction will also suffer due to crowding and visitor conflicts. The legacy of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness will be at risk.
A bleak thought, to be sure; although I disagree with the belief this is a single-solution problem. If you share this belief and think other solutions should be explored, be sure to voice your comments and concerns, and share with others to get the word out.