Forest Service asks users to apply better judgment on public lands
Multiple incidents raise concerns for White River National Forest officials
People partially freed from quarantine restraints headed into the national forest in droves, but several left a trail of trouble behind, according to White River National Forest officials.
Four people were base-jumping from the cliffs above Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, and one landed in the hospital. The trail to Hanging Lake remains closed, and off-trail travel is never allowed in this area, the Forest Service said.
“We never want to see people breaking rules and engaging in high-risk behavior, but it’s especially worrisome given the current situation,” White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said. “We don’t want to pull emergency officials away from focusing on the pandemic.”
If that’s not enough, every ranger district in the White River National Forest reported finding multiple unattended campfires last weekend.
“This isn’t rocket science. Follow the area fire restrictions. If you can have a campfire, enjoy it safely and make sure it is completely out before you leave,” Fitzwilliams said. “It’s only a matter of time before one of these abandoned campfires sparks a larger fire.”
The National Weather Service issued fire restrictions last week, citing high winds and low humidity.
A muddy trail is a closed trail
Chains on several seasonal Forest Service gates were cut to gain access to closed areas. In other areas, people are driving around the gates.
Those trails are closed to keep people from disturbing wildlife and damaging roads, Fitzwilliams said. Several other roads are open but are muddy, and suffered serious damage from motorized travel.
“Please stay off muddy roads. Be patient, these spring conditions will improve,” Fitzwilliams said.
You also need to pack out your trash, Fitzwilliams said.
“Public lands are a tremendous resource available to us during these stressful times. But people need to be responsible and use common sense. We are all in this together,” Fitzwilliams said.
If you see illegal behavior, Fitzwilliams asks that you contact your local ranger district or sheriff’s office.