The United States Forest Service is reportedly taking action to ensure there isn’t an expectation vs. reality fail for future visitors to Colorado’s gorgeous Blue Lakes.
As published by Phys.org, Tiney Ricciardi of The Denver Post reported the USFS plans to require a first-of-its-kind day-use permit for hikers, with the hopes of limiting negative environmental impact due to overuse of recreational areas.
“We’ve already started to feel some of these places we love are getting loved to death,” said Dana Gardunio, who works for the USFS’ Ouray Ranger District.
The USFS will reportedly issue only 40 day-use permits each day from May to September after a visitor-use study released last year revealed that the Blue Lakes Trail once had 509 hikers in a single day in 2021.
Overnight permits, which would also allow access to hiking, would be limited to 24.
“So we’re going to try and make sure to keep that experience high quality for people who are visiting and also help care for the landscape itself and wildlife and the other resources that live out there,” Gardunio added.
Concerns regarding the impact of human recreation on our environment are increasing.
In 2019, pictures of people enjoying California’s super bloom of wildflowers went viral for not-so-ideal reasons, with the trampling of the flowers impacting the plant’s ability to grow back in future years and large crowds causing safety concerns.
The state has even adopted laws to protect the flowers.
The Blue Lakes aren’t an exception. An environmental impact report indicated that wildlife habitats were already negatively affected. Plant life was also overrun by visitors creating their own trails, and ineffective disposal of human and animal waste was causing pollution.
The hope is that limiting the number of visitors will help keep the lakes the breathtaking color of blue that made them famous.
Many Redditors supported the federal agency’s plan and expressed frustration with how human behavior has affected Colorado’s natural beauty.
“Good…hopefully this will mitigate some of the damage,” one commenter wrote.
“In areas once prized for their natural beauty and tranquility, we now encounter broken glass, trash, and even human feces,” another said. “… In many ways, the phrase ‘loved to death’ truly reflects the challenges we face from the impacts of increased tourism.”
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