Regulating the ‘last frontier’
SUMMIT COUNTY – Broken glass, empty cans, disputes among fishermen and water skiers, unleashed dogs, noise and human waste have apparently led to the first-ever set of rules at a popular recreation area. Green Mountain Reservoir, north of Silverthorne, was created in the 1940s by the people who played there. The U.S. Forest Service says regulations aimed at protecting the environment – such as leash laws and bans on campfires – have largely been ignored.
Users of the area “can be characterized as people that desire an unregulated environment,” forest service rangers wrote their plan to begin more aggressively managing the reservoir. “Some value Green Mountain because it is the ‘last frontier,’ an unregulated environment that allows users a great deal of freedom to do what they please,” the report said. “The reservoir is a ‘local’s favorite,’ used heavily by people who live within 100 miles, with 90 percent of the use occurring on weekends in the form of destination camping.”According to the Forest Service, campers at Green Mountain tend to be working class people who prefer to rough it in tents, pickup campers and old camp trailers. These campers don’t ask for much in the way of services other than clean bathroom and place to put trash. “In short, they like Green Mountain Reservoir just the way it is and don’t desire a lot of interaction with the Forest Service,” the report says.
But baby boomers in self-contained RVs, who want a high level of services, have been visiting Green Mountain more frequently of late, and the Forest Service is spending $1.2 million on improvements over the next 10 years.
The funding will come at least in part from fees collected at the reservoir. Visiting the park will cost $5 per vehicle and camping overnight is $10. Season passes will cost $65.The recreation areas around the reservoir will be staffed by four people throughout the summer. Portable toilets will be required at North and South Cow Creek campgrounds, as well as at the Willows and Elliot campgrounds.The forest service also will enforce a leash law and crackdown on off-road vehicles, said Ken Waugh, recreation staff officer for the Dillon Ranger District.”Leave one of your toys at home,” Waugh said.It will be illegal to ride anywhere other than in and out of the campgrounds on designated roads. “That’s going to make some people unhappy,” he said. For more information on the new rules at Green Mountain Reservoir, go to: http://www.dillonrangerdistrict.com/projects.htm#green_mountain_res