Forest Service retirees in Region 2 recently received a note from Acting Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien that said:
This year has certainly brought on more challenges to our public lands as we are seeing unprecedented numbers of forest visitors across the forests and grasslands. While this means more members of the public are learning about and enjoying our public lands, it also means that every program area across the Region is feeling the increased pressures in our jobs.
Our Regional Leadership Team is discussing these issues at length and actively seeking additional support for employees, both for personal well-being and physical, psychological, and social safety, as well as for the protection and conservation of our natural and cultural resources that we hold so dear. Though we may not immediately have big and swift options for change, we can certainly work together and incrementally continue to raise awareness of conditions across our lands and the effects it is having on our employees, our users, and our resources.
So this is an opportunity to collect info from various parts of the country. Have you seen any news stories, or have you observed yourself/spoken with people involved?
1. Has your area seen increases in people and camping on National Forests/BLM due to Covid-19?
2. Earlier in the year, outfitters I spoke with said that out of state bookings were down (planned vacations from out of state/country, as opposed to day or weekend trips). They were encouraging Front Range types to come and fill in some of the gaps. How does this look in your part of the country in terms of locals/nearby metros (if any)/out of state/country visits?
3. In the Colorado Springs area, we’ve also had what seems to be cases of local communities closing off places where people traditionally accessed National Forests due to some combination of avoiding Covid-19/too many people/too many people not behaving well. Have you seen any of this?
4. Based on observing previous years, there may be more people recreating on the National Forests around here during the week.. possibly due to more work from home and more flexible work schedules, and perhaps the need to get the kids outdoors and socially distanced. What have you experienced or read about?
5. What about recreation businesses? Here’s an example of a story on increases in RV sales. Here’s an example of a story on outdoor recreation businesses being hard hit by Covid. Maybe people are going to more individual and less guided recreation? Or perhaps the far-away people are staying away? Or perhaps in the Rockies, there are more people from neighboring States with no mountains and lotsa heat? What about other regions?