Public comment wanted on plan to charge for access to peaks in the Colony Basin area of the Sangre de Cristos
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is considering charging $10 to $20 for climbing a group of popular fourteeners in the Sangre de Cristos in order to help pay for trail work and restoration of damaged alpine tundra. For now, the proposal is only aimed at summer users.
“Relying on recreation use fees appears to be the best option for providing future high quality backcountry experiences and protecting the natural environment in South Colony Basin,” Forest Service ranger Paul Crespin wrote in a May 12 letter announcing the proposal.
While the agency claims it needs the money to help manage the area, groups opposed to the fees say the plan a first step toward widespread hiking fees on fourteeners. A better option would be to adopt a free first-come, first-serve permit system, according to the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition.
Such a system would help limit the impacts of human use while at the same time preserving the tradition of free access to public lands.
The Forest Service is taking public comment on the plan. The proposal and the comment form are online here.
Several upcoming meetings with county commissioners have also been set to discuss the fee.