In the interest of crowdsourcing information on National Forest activities, I’m wondering how things are opening up in your neck of the woods. Coming back through a city last Friday, I noticed almost as many campers and trailers heading for the hills as in a non-Covid year.
Governor Polis of Colorado asked travelers to be sensitive to host communities and try to avoid stopping in them. In Colorado, State Parks have been open for hiking throughout the pandemic and recently opened to camping. National Forest campgrounds have been shut down, but dispersed camping on National Forests and BLM is very popular.
Many people prefer dispersed camping to campgrounds. Though part of their argument is that it’s free, and I don’t think that’s fair. I wish people who do dispersed camping would pay a voluntary $70 ish fee per year (I’ve given up on fees for now), about the same as a State Park pass, that goes into costs of the program. As part of the package, they could get discounts from nearby businesses, education on how to reduce impacts and be good neighbors, plus a link to a website to report areas that need attention by the land management agency (like this Recreation Monitoring System, currently only in Colorado). Yes, there is a problem that there currently is no such not-for-profit set up to channel the donations, but that wouldn’t be difficult to accomplish.
What continues to amaze to me is that the massive weekend migration to the woods, not managed by anyone, works as well as it does. Or perhaps no one is monitoring the Law Enforcement Officer reports for potential news stories.
I did notice that the Pike San Isabel Travel Management EIS (2-26) described an alternative not analyzed in detail:
“Designated Dispersed Camping Alternative
This alternative is focused on resolving confusion with short, dead end spur routes that currently provide for dispersed motorized camping.
Key ideas are as follows:
•Limit closure of short, dead end spurs currently open to dispersed camping, to limit the shift of impacts elsewhere
•Convert these routes to parking locations only if on-site vehicle camping is permitted and clearly marked to avoid impacts
•Change the current strategy on the PSI of having dispersed motorized camping forest-wide to designated dispersed motorized camping, where all locations are inventoried and clearly marked
It seems to me that many forests near me allow dispersed camping, with signage when it is not allowed in specific places (I guess open unless closed). But I don’t think that’s the case everywhere. Is it by the Region, by how urbanized the area is or some historical factor or ???? Are there groups that want to reduce dispersed (vehicle) camping on its own, or is reduction of dispersed camping just a by-product of the desire to close roads?
(1) How about your neighboring Forests? What are their policies on dispersed camping?
(2) What did it look like out there (on the National Forest) last weekend in terms of numbers?