Long-term camping, littering and wildfire danger cited as reasons for proposal
A popular free camping zone between Keystone and Montezuma could be shut down by the U.S. Forest Service. According to the agency, the informal campsites have become a nuisance, with long-term campers damaging natural resources and littering the area with human waste and trash.
As a result, the Forest Service wants to ban overnight camping year-round in the areas within 0.25 miles of Montezuma Road. The closure cover an area about four miles long and a half mile wide. The area would remain open to day-use activities.
According to the agency, the 2002 White River National Forest plan bars camping withing 100 feet of lakes and streams. Many of the campsites along the Montezuma Road include areas that are within 100 feet of the Snake River. In the past several years, the illegal use of these sites by persons for residential purposes has increased dramatically because of the close proximity to the town of Keystone.
“Because of limited personnel and increased public pressure, the Dillon Ranger District does not have the ability to effectively manage the Montezuma Road corridor for camping,” said Dillon District Ranger Bill Jackson, citing a lack of resources to manage camping in the corridor. “Our single Law Enforcement Officer spends close to 80% of her time there in the summer months enforcing camping regulations which leaves other areas of the district unpatrolled,” Jackson said.
According to the Forest Service, unattended campfires are one of the main problems in the area. Since there are no toilets in the area, human waste is deposited on the ground, commonly without being buried and within 100 feet of Snake River. Trash and abandoned property (vehicles, campers, etc.) are often left adjacent to the highly used Montezuma Road. In many cases the Forest Service has to pay to remove them.
Camping with all the appropriate amenities is provided nearby for the public in six developed campgrounds adjacent to Lake Dillon and further north at Green Mountain Reservoir.
The District is inviting the public to comment on this proposal. Information about how to comment is available at the White River National Forest website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=48736