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Forest supervisor says Hanging Lake not burned badly in fire, but 'not out of the woods' for future

Boardwalk, upper trail, cliff vegetation "not impacted" but surrounding areas burned "intensely"
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Posted at 6:55 PM, Aug 14, 2020

UPDATE (10:30 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 20): White River National Forest crews flew over Hanging Lake again on Wednesday night to take more photos of the area.

“We know the fire burned through some of the lower trail, but we haven’t yet assessed how much it was impacted. We will share what we find out once we are able to do that,” said White River National Forest spokesperson David Boyd.

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White River National Forest crews flew over Hanging Lake again on Aug. 20, 2020 to take more photos of the area.
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White River National Forest crews flew over Hanging Lake again on Aug. 20, 2020 to take more photos of the area.

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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – The supervisor of the White River National Forest said Friday evening that the initial aerial assessment done earlier in the day showed that much of Hanging Lake was not severely burned Thursday when the Grizzly Creek Fire moved through, though the area above the lake burned “intensely.”

Scott Fitzwilliams, the supervisor of the White River National Forest, relayed the new details during a community meeting Friday evening. (Starts about 11 minutes into video embedded below)

“I’m happy to announce that the immediate area around Hanging Lake – the boardwalk, the upper reaches of the trail, and the vegetation around the cliffs – was not impacted by the fire,” Fitzwilliams said. “However, the fire did burn intensely all around the area – above it and to the sides of it.”

Fire officials and people who frequent the popular destination had been concerned since Thursday, when the fire burned quickly through the area, that it might have been severely damaged. Fire officials had been awaiting a window Friday to be able to fly over the area.

And though Fitzwilliams said that the initial outlook was good, he warned that there could be future ramifications from the scorched earth and trees surrounding the lake.

“We’re not out of the woods … We won’t know for a while the long-term impacts because Hanging Lake is really about the whole hydrology of the area, but we are feeling good and we are really happy to report that.”

The city of Glenwood Springs said Friday that the Hanging Lake call center has “been inundated with the volume of calls” and asked for patience for the staff as they try to sort out reservations and the area’s closure because of the wildfire.

The city said that people with existing reservations could soon see other options.

“For existing reservations, there will be opportunities for visitors who may wish to donate their reservation fee to a restoration fund for Hanging Lake,” the city said.