Forest Service considering changes to local recreation sites


The U.S. Forest Service is currently conducting a recreation site analysis (RSA) intended to adjust the San Juan National Forest’s (SJNF) recreation program to meet the constraints of personnel, funding and public demand.

The RSA is an extensive evaluation of all existing recreation programs in the SJNF, accompanied by detailed plans of what will be done with each site and an analysis of what these changes mean for the environment and community.

The outcome of the RSA could range from the decommissioning, or removal, of certain recreation sites to the construction of new sites or modifications that fall in between.

There are 36 sites included in the RSA located within the Pagosa Ranger District.

The SJNF manages a large number of recreation sites, ranging from informal trailhead parking areas to full-service recreation facilities with drinking water, flush toilets, electric and sewage facilities.

The report states that the niche of the SJNF is to, “Maintain and enhance opportunities for dispersed and backcountry recreational experiences that rely little on developed facilities.”

The forest’s recreation program is extensive, with 127 recreation sites, 43 campgrounds, 1,824 miles of trail systems, 403 miles of trails in wilderness areas, Purgatory (Durango Mountain) Resort, and three Nordic ski areas under partnership agreements.

It also includes four wilderness areas — Lizard Head, Weminuche, South San Juan and Hermosa Creek.

From an initial examination of programs, the Forest Service has concluded that the current recreation program is unsustainable due to agency resources and maintenance liabilities.

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