Monday, July 28, 2008

Forest Service considers closing small Colorado campgrounds

ASPEN — The U.S. Forest Service is considering closing three small campgrounds in the Aspen-Sopris District and possibly charging hikers, skiers and snowmobilers a $1 fee at the winter closure gate on Independence Pass.

None of the closures or the fee are imminent, according to an official with the White River National Forest supervisor’s office. They are contemplated in a planning document called a recreation facility analysis. But that plan outlines management options, not definitive direction, said Rich Doak, recreation manager for the White River National Forest supervisor’s office.

That document was completed in August 2007 but was only unveiled on the forest’s website this month. National forests supervisors across the country are under a mandate from the Forest Service’s Washington, D.C., headquarters to finish an exam of their developed recreation facilities by the end of 2008 and determine which should be closed, improved or left alone.

The White River National Forest’s plan raises the prospect of closing the Silver Bar Campground in the Maroon Creek Valley; Elk Wallow Campground in the Fryingpan Valley; and Portal Campground up Lincoln Creek. In addition, a fee at the winter closure gate on Highway 82 east of Aspen could be charged if a toilet needs to be installed there, the document says.
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