No swimming in Hanging Lake (no dogs either)
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – On busy summer days, more than 600 visitors make the trek to Hanging Lake on the White River National Forest.
The volume of visitors has a huge impact on the delicate features of the lake, but when visitors violate the rules they are further destroying the resource.
“That volume has a huge impact on the area, and violations to the rules further accelerate that damage as well as the overall visitor experience,” said Rich Doak, recreation program manager for the White River. “When visitors choose to break the law, they can cause significant damage to this fragile lake ecosystem.”
Hanging Lake has a unique calcium-edge wall that holds the lake in place, giving the lake the illusion of hanging. T
he delicate wall is affected by body oils and can be compromised when visitors break the law and swim in the lake. Last weekend, several visitors to the lake chose to violate that rule, swimming in the water despite posted signs.
Additionally, dogs can harm the resource by jumping into the water. They, and other pets, are not allowed on the trail.
Visitors to Hanging Lake often feed wildlife in the area, especially chipmunks. “The animals are really habituated to people and even beg for food,” said Beth Boyst, wilderness specialist with the White River. “It’s dangerous … Those animals could transmit disease, and feeding them actually hurts the animals in the long run.”
Hikers are also reminded to stay on the trail and leave no litter behind.
An increased volume of visitors has meant a crowded hiking experience on weekends, but hikers must stay on established trails to avoid damaging vegetation.
Several volunteer organizations currently assist the Forest Service with the management of Hanging Lake. The Forest Conservancy provides volunteer rangers to patrol the area and teach Leave No Trace hiking practices. Boy Scouts from Carbondale assist with trash cleanup, and the Kiwanis Club of Glenwood Springs assists with trail maintenance.
Forest Service staff members are currently developing plans for installing new signs, replacing the boardwalk and benches, and building an interpreter kiosk.
Businesses or clubs interested in helping to sponsor the projects, or volunteers interested in assisting, should contact Beth Boyst at (970) 328-6388.
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