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Forest Service officials announce plans to restructure camping near Nederland


Camping restrictions, day-use rules will be implemented after Labor Day to protect health and safety

By K. Reid Armstrong

Working in close collaboration with local officials and community leaders, the Roosevelt National Forest is announcing plans to reconfigure West Magnolia’s designated campsites into better organized loops with services and amenities, such as metal fire rings, pit toilets, and trash receptacles. The plan includes improving signs and maps in the designated camping area, clarifying where camping is allowed, and clarifying that campfires are allowed within metal fire rings at designated campsites only.

West Magnolia serves as a gateway to recreation opportunities around Nederland. The area’s proximity to Nederland makes it attractive for visitors interested in enjoying the restaurants, services and activities in town. The Forest Service has been working in shared stewardship with partners over the past few years to enhance the extensive network of mountain biking and hiking trails around West Magnolia. Yet, there is growing public concern over health and safety issues caused by people camping outside of the designated campsites in the area.

“This is a heavily populated area with thousands of private residences, in addition to the high school and town, bordering the national forest,” said Boulder District Ranger Angela Gee. “Escaped campfires have caused on average, between five and 10 small wildfires per year in this small and densely populated area. In addition, this area serves as a critical drinking water supply for millions of Colorado residents.”

In August 2018, in response to public concerns, Forest Service staff conducted a collaborative review of the site with a team of law enforcement, fire officials and community stakeholders. The team proposed improving the placement and definition of the 22 designated existing campsites, adding metal fire rings to the campsites, partnering with the town to provide restrooms and trash facilities, improving signs and maps specifying where camping is allowed, continuing educational efforts by existing community outreach groups, and implementing stricter regulations outside of the designated dispersed campsites.

To support the team’s proposal, the Forest is enacting temporary restrictions across approximately 3,800 acres of National Forest System land immediately south of the West Magnolia dispersed camping area from the Gilpin County line north to the Town of Nederland and east to the Front Range Trailhead. The order will go into effect after Labor Day and will require camping in designated sites only, restrict campfires outside of metal rings in designated sites, and allow day use only. By keeping use to the hours between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., law enforcement can better educate the public about where camping is appropriate. Licensed hunting and fishing will be exempted from the day use only restriction.

“Our hope is that reconfiguring the campground will improve the user experience and that strengthening existing restrictions outside of designated campsites will improve the health and safety of the area for all users and neighboring residents,” Gee said.

The Forest Service will implement the review team’s recommendation in phases through community stewardship and partnership over the next few summers. Learn more about the site review, efforts to improve the area and provide comments and input at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/westmag.

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