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Front Range open spaces say increase in visitation is leading to destruction of trails and parks

Jefferson County Open Space park
Posted at 10:15 PM, Apr 30, 2020

DENVER – A group of Front Range open spaces is pleading with Coloradans to practice responsible recreation during the coronavirus outbreak in the state, as irresponsible activities are leading to the destruction of our trails and parks.

Rangers, ecologists and staff members from Boulder County Park & Open Space, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, Denver Parks and Recreation Mountain Parks, and Jefferson County Open Space said they’ve seen trail widening and plant damage, disturbances to sensitive habitats by people illegally entering wildlife closures and other areas closed to the general public, as well as visitors creating “social trails” that threaten areas many wildlife species need to thrive.

All consequences of the high number of people that have taken to the trails over the last month.

The four agencies have tried to manage the large number of people coming in to recreate by temporarily closing crowded trailheads and full parking lots but said in the joint plea Thursday they may implement more closures to mitigate trail and natural resource damage.

Despite the effort, the agencies expect the high number of visitors to continue and their tax revenues to decline, decreasing overall open space maintenance efforts, which is why they’re asking that the public follow these guidelines to prevent rail closures and raise awareness of the importance of shared public lands:

-- Wear a face covering AND maintain six feet of physical distance while on open space trails.
-- Stay as close to home as possible and to avoid unnecessary travel. If visitors encounter a full or crowded area, they should move on to another area.
-- Park only in designated parking areas.
-- Visit open space areas in groups of four or fewer people. Larger groups can impede traffic on area trails and make it difficult for people to maintain social distance.
-- Walk through the mud and keep off the vegetation when stepping off trail is necessary.
-- Adhere to dog regulations for specific trails, pick up after their dogs, and remove their trash.
-- Stay out of wildlife closure areas and other areas closed to the public.
-- Know their limits and not take any risks to help protect first responders.

To help visitors recreate responsibly, the agencies also offered detailed open space maps and closure areas, which are available below:

-- Boulder County
-- City of Boulder
-- Jefferson County
-- City and County of Denver