The BLM is revising their camping and travel management plans in Chaffee County, Colorado which has become very popular in the recent years. With access to the Arkansas River and areas such as Buena Vista and Salida, these are some of the most sought after areas to visit for dispersed camping in Colorado. The travel management portion is located on 13,000 acres and the Camping Management Plan affects 38,000 acres.
During the scoping phase of this project the BLM received over 400 comments and many of those were from our members and supporters expressing concern with proposed restrictions to travel and camping. Because of the feedback received the BLM has refined the alternatives presented to reflect these comments and the wants and needs of users.
This plan is split into several management areas: Shavano, Pass Creek, Fourmile, Pass Creek, Browns Canyon National Monument Entrance/Hecla Junction and the Burmac/Methodist areas. The Shavano area is probably the most popular area for use seeing all types of users from dispersed campers, vans, 5th wheels and RV’s.
BRC is encouraged by the response the BLM has given to the comments they received previously and the current proposal states:
“Those not supportive of the action alternatives as presented expressed concern about loss of camping opportunities, displacement from closures, impacts to recreation experiences due to increased regulations, and road closures in association with the travel management portion of the action alternatives. In response to the comments the BLM refined the alternatives, including the Proposed Action”
We appreciate the significant improvements the BLM has made however we believe the proposed alternative still restricts responsible campers too much. Alternative D is the proposed action however, BRC supports Alternative C which is the Motorized Access Priority Alternative. Alternative C would offer more mileage open year round within the different management areas than Alternative D.
Currently the majority of the areas allow a 300 or 100 foot allowance for cars to park off the road for camping. The proposed action would only allow for one car width off the road which would greatly jeopardize any type of dispersed camping experience. We typically see a 100 foot allowance throughout public lands and believe the BLM should adopt this same standard in this planning area.
BRC always encourages leave no trace principles which would leave your campsite unrecognizable. The BLM is using current campsites to number amount of campsites needed as a way to “designate” dispersed campsites. BRC supports designated dispersed camping as long as it is offered in addition to a variety of camping experiences alternatives. However, if you used correct leave no trace principles, your campsite would not have been counted in this process that only recognizes hardened sites. We believe this is an inaccurate way to measure use and needs and also discourages users from truly leaving no trace. BLM should not be punishing responsible use by eliminated the preferred experiences of responsible users.
Comments for this plan are being accepted until October 8, 2022. Please let the BLM know that all current routes should be included in the travel management plan and the camping management plan needs to accommodates all users and future users.
BLM reference materials can be found here: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2012291/510