Regional Forester’s Closure Order still in effect
While Gov. Jared Polis’ “Safer at Home” order has loosened restrictions for business, nothing has changed for U.S. Forest Service managed lands.
A Regional Closure Order published April 7 by Rocky Mountain Region Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien states that “Entering or using a Developed Recreation Site or portion thereof, including developed trailhead facilities” is prohibited.
The still-closed sites include campgrounds, day-use areas, picnic areas, and any other constructed facility amenities – such as potable water stations, fire rings and grills, picnic tables, restroom facilities with flush or vaulted toilets, and trashcans and trash collection services.
The Regional Closure Order is in effect through May 31.
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“We’re following all the state orders as well as all of the county orders, which as you probably know by now, some of them can be more restrictive than the governor’s order,” said Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner. “Pitkin County is still under a stay-at-home order (until May 8), and most of the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District is within Pitkin County.”
So although the governor’s order allows for outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, cross-country skiing, running, etc., the Forest Service is “not necessarily encouraging those activities” Warner said.
“Dispersed-type recreational activities are still allowed,” he said. “But the governor is recommending that people don’t travel more than 10 miles away from their home for outdoor recreation. So while we’re open for dispersed-type recreation, it’s discouraged at the state level.”
With early May being the height of what is commonly known as “mud season” in the Rocky Mountains, many of the closures are more standard for this time of year than they are COVID-19 related, Warner said.
Summer motorized travel season officially begins May 21 in the White River National Forest. Until that time, no motorized vehicle use or wheeled travel is allowed on National Forest System roads, unless those roads are shown as open in the Winter Motor Vehicle Use Maps. These same dates apply to mountain bikes as well.
Motor Vehicle Use Maps, as well as bicycle maps, are available online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/whiteriver/landmanagement/?cid=stelprdb5328670
“A lot of the dispersed areas people would go to recreate on — the roads are still closed, or they’re muddy and not necessarily the experience people are looking for,” Warner said. “So I would caution folks not to get too far out there, just because a lot of the closed areas don’t open up until May 21.”
The Forest Service asks that people be responsible when recreating on forest lands by using the following tips:
- Stay on designated roads, trails and areas identified on the Motor Vehicle Use Maps.
- Adhere to site-specific opening dates to protect our wildlife and other natural resources.
- Be respectful of other visitors.
- Be respectful of property boundaries and know what uses are allowed if you enter non-Forest Service property.
- Do not widen trails by going around obstacles and do not create shortcuts.
- Avoid wet, muddy trails.
- Cross streams only at designated fords.
For more information, contact the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District at 970-963-2266, or visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.
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