Jurisdictions in the Denver metro area are reporting high usage of trails and open space, but are simultaneously warning of the damage that users are inflicting on outdoor areas and the difficulty fixing it due to the likelihood of lower tax revenues.
“While the open space agencies have instituted several management actions to address crowding, such as temporary closures at crowded trailheads and full parking lots, they may implement additional closures to mitigate trail and natural resource damage,” read a joint announcement from Jefferson and Boulder counties and the cities of Denver and Boulder, which operate 560 miles of trails in total.
The problems over the last several weeks included the widening of trails and plant damage due to hikers stepping off of paths. The localities encourage people to maintain six feet of distance from others on trails, but advise stepping onto rocks or barren patches of earth if there is a need to leave the trail.
The increased traffic has also led to encroachment onto closed areas or those designated for wildlife. To minimize adverse effects, the jurisdictions request that groups not exceed four persons on trails. People should not step on vegetation when trying to avoid mud or other hikers, and they should leave areas that are crowded.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a national trails advocacy group, also advises outdoor enthusiasts to remain close to home when using public open space so there is a lesser likelihood of calling first responders if something goes wrong and consequently tying up medical resources.