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Eagle County land managers, businesses pondering federal mask mandate

Forest Service still working on guidance for wide-open lands

Federal land managers are working on guidance for a Jan. 20 executive order requiring mask use on federal land.
Special to the Daily

There’s a new rule requiring everyone to wear masks on federal land. Folks at the U.S. Forest Service are waiting for guidance as to what that means for the millions of acres of federal land west of the Mississippi River.

Eagle Holy Cross District Ranger Leanne Velduis said her office is still awaiting further direction about how the new order will impact forest users.

“I think we’ve been getting a lot of questions about this,” Veldhuis said. But without clear direction, people at local Forest Service offices must wear masks inside, and maintain social distance outside.



At Paragon Guides, guide Rachel Solomon said the executive order hasn’t really come up yet. Solomon said people on Paragon’s tours this winter have to wear masks or face coverings, but can pull them down when on the trails.

Still, she added, the masks are needed when people need to be close to each other.



“We want to make sure everyone’s safe.”

Masking may be different if people from the same household are in the backcountry on their own, Solomon said.

At Cripple Creek Backcountry, Gracie Moody said the president’s executive order hasn’t really come up at that business.

While customers have to wear masks and maintain distance in the store, “What people do on their own is out of our control.”

Moody noted that people going into the backcountry these days tend to go with those in their own households or families.

“Nobody’s really meeting up with large groups right now,” Moody said.

Besides, she added, when it’s cold, people tend to keep their faces covered anyway.

The rule

“…to protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce, and to ensure the continuity of Government services and activities, on-duty or on-site Federal employees, on-site Federal contractors, and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines.

— Jan. 20 executive order from President Joe Biden


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