Friends of Fourmile support 1A
By Alan Robinson, Friends of Fourmile/GARNA
Since 2003 GARNA’s chapter Friends of Fourmile has assisted the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management manage recreation on the 100,000-acre Fourmile Area. We’ve mapped, educated, patrolled, surveyed. We know what people do, where they camp, illegal roads they create, soils and vegetation they impact, trash and human waste they leave.
Our bottom line: Since 2009 the number of camping units in Fourmile has doubled – it may well have tripled since 2000. The number of dispersed camping sites has also doubled (since 2004).
Similar data doesn’t exist for other Chaffee public land so we can’t say for sure, but trends are there, in increased fourteener climbers, Continental Divide and Colorado Trail users and campsite and campground occupancy west of the river.
We strongly endorse issue 1A protecting forests, waters and working lands and the support it can provide in better managing recreational impacts. We admire dedicated agency professionals but realize their resources have declined despite expanded responsibilities, including recreation, wildlife, fire management and cultural resource protection. We cannot maintain quality of recreational experiences and other public land contributions without additional funding. Issue 1A addresses this directly and is a modest price to pay for potentially huge long-term benefits.
What programs could be supported? Examples: during fire bans more seasonal patrolling while deterring destructive behavior like riding off-trail and cutting live trees; limit campsite sprawl and repair eroded areas; deal with uncontrolled expansion of dispersed camping by designating specific areas.
Friends of Fourmile believes it’s time we recognize increasing recreational use, despite contributions to economic growth, has potential to degrade the environmental values that attract our visitors and we so enjoy. We must act to balance recreation growth with protection of our waters, wildlife and recreational experiences.
Vote “yes” on 1A.