DELTA, Colo -- The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest issued a Forest Supervisor’s Order restricting dispersed camping in the area known as the “Gothic Corridor” near Crested Butte from June 15 to August 15.
The popular mountain biking, hiking, and off-roading area includes lands along National Forest System Road 317 (NFSR #317) from the southern gate near Mt. Crested Butte to the boundary with Gunnison National Forest at the top of Schofield Pass.
Day use of lands in the area is still allowed and camping in the Gothic Campground is still permitted. The order also prohibits motorized vehicle travel off designated routes.
The Forest Service said there has been heavy usage in the corridor for many years, but 2015 was a tipping point.
“In some ways the area is being loved to death,” said Lee Ann Loupe, a Forest Service spokesperson for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests. “Heavy usage during the peak period was causing significant damage – there was more trash, human waste, and vehicle traffic.”
Loupe said the Forest Service worked with the city government of Crested Butte, landowners, local residents, and researchers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab to come up with the new plan. The Gunnison Ranger District issued a proposal as part of a NEPA scoping process this past February and March and received over 80 comments. The Forest Service said the final plan was issued to protect resources and manage conflicts.
Ian Billick, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Gothic, said heavy usage in the corridor was affecting the Lab’s research sites in the area. “We’ve had issues with trespass and visitors driving and camping inside of the research plots,” said Billick. “On public lands, you have to work out issues with your neighbors, but the numbers had gotten so large, it passed the point where we could work it out.”
Click the map below for details on the extent of the area affected by the restrictions.