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Weminuche Registration

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports

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Re: Weminuche Registration

Postby cftbq » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:16 pm

Well, appalling, but, unfortunately, not surprising. I have many thirteeners left in the (huge) Weminuche, and, now, even if I live long enough, I have to wonder if I will ever get the chance to climb them. I despair for my grandchildren's chances of even finishing the 14ers. It certainly looks like the day is coming when the mountains I love will be the exclusive province of the government-approved elite.
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and the power that animates the universe. That may not
match up with your anthropomorphic or teleological idea of
what "god" is, but it's good enough for me.

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Re: Weminuche Registration

Postby schrund » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:22 pm

Many times I've wondered what this State was like back in the 1970's or earlier - with less folks wandering around on the 14ers. But I do remember South Colony Lakes Road before the "new" TH, and I do remember Yankee Boy Basin before the mining renaissance, and I do remember the "confusing" set of roads before the South Elbert TH was built. And now I can have memories of Chicago Basin before the access limitations - reminiscent of Mount Whitney when you could just walk up, check-in and head off. We are blessed to live in this State :)
We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams... as "wild". Only to the white man was nature a "wilderness".
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Re: Weminuche Registration

Postby DaveLanders » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:44 pm

This is pretty much meaningless. As mentioned in the article, there are several other areas that are
already doing this. However, there aren't any fees, nor any limits on how many people can enter
a given area. Basically, it provides employment for another bureaucrat to sit at a desk and count
up the results of the registration forms, instead of having people out working on the trails, or
doing other things to mitigate the impacts of increased usage.

Re: Weminuche Registration

Postby KyleS » Sun Apr 07, 2013 6:29 pm

Look up any trip report about Chicago Basin and you'll read again and again about problems because of human overcrowding and a non-adherence to Leave No Trace principles. I've had to change my plans last minute when I pulled up to the Ute Creek trail head after a night of heavy rain to find 30+ pack animals heading up the trail. I think a little mandatory education on personal responsibility could go a long way to minimizing the impact up there without hindering anyone's access.

But they're not even suggesting that. They're just asking that you register so they know you're out there. I do this voluntarily in case of emergency and I don't see why this is a big deal at all.

And that's the Forest Service's job - to protect the forest. They monitor the populations of many species. Now humans, too. That's exactly what we pay them for.

Did we read entirely different articles?

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Re: Weminuche Registration

Postby TravelingMatt » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:09 pm

Not sure what this accomplishes, other than preparing for a fee/reservation system. However, Chicago Basin could use a marked/numbered campsite system similar to Maroon and Geneva Lake.
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

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Re: Weminuche Registration

Postby Vincopotamus » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:32 am

Full Disclosure: I was a FS Wilderness Ranger on the Columbine Ranger District in the Weminuche for 2 seasons in 2010 and 2011. Also, I know that the woman who managed the Weminuche for about the last 10 years just retired and a new wilderness manager is taking over this season.

That said, the mandatory registration is a 90 second burden the FS is imposing on wilderness visitors to fill out a simple info card, to help gauge usage. That usage data is incredibly valuable to the wilderness managers because it allows them to quantify use and plead their case for funding. Other Ranger Districts in southern Colorado are lucky to have 2-3, if any, wilderness rangers to clean campsites, pick trash out of fire rings, eliminate inappropriate/redundant fire rings, clear trees from trails, keep the yahoos in check and perform other stewardship in the backcountry. But because the Columbine RD (home of Chicago Basin) has been able to document use, they have typically been able to justify 6-7 rangers a year to take care of the wilderness. Last year, the district endured substantial budget cuts and could only hire 2 rangers.

The train and the Chicago Basin 14ers attract so many visitors that it really makes a world of difference to have those extra pairs of boots on the ground to help protect the wilderness values that make the Weminuche so special.

In 2010, my supervisor communicated to the Weminuche Wilderness manager that human waste was becoming a substantial problem in Chicago Basin, and we were asked for documentation of the problem. The following hitch, we spent 3 days inventorying and documenting over 100 campsites in Chicago Basin. It was almost frightening how you could walk to the center of almost any campsite, take a look around and ask yourself, if I had to 'go' right now, where would I 'go?' Walk off and visit those 'spots' and more often than not, they had either toilet paper, human waste, or both sitting on the surface. We tried to pick up the tp and bury the waste, but that is obviously not a solution. Equally bad were folks who grabbed a free ReStop/Wag-Bag from the TH, used it, and then left it in the Basin.

For my money, I think that requiring visitors to stop for 90 seconds and fill out a registration card greatly increases the odds that they will stop and read the LNT ethics and practices and hopefully get some more folks to be more conscientious of their impact in the wilderness. I'm sure many wilderness veterans will find this to be another instance of the FS overreaching with silly regulations, but for every savvy visitor we met, we met another less-than-savvy visitor - and a disproportionate amount of those less-than-savvy visitors were in Chicago Basin.

I haven't met the new Weminuche Wilderness manager so I can't speak to his/her plans, but I know that in the past, both the wilderness manager and lead wilderness ranger on the Columbine have encouraged rangers to be a 'courteous host' and educate rather than cite >90% of visitors in violation of wilderness regulations. In my time as a ranger, we always asked for compliance first, and only cited in the instances where someone violated a blatant regulation (ie campfires in Needle Creek), or if they were in violation of multiple regulations at once.
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Re: Weminuche Registration

Postby mattpayne11 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:48 am

Vincopotamus wrote:Full Disclosure: I was a FS Wilderness Ranger on the Columbine Ranger District in the Weminuche for 2 seasons in 2010 and 2011. Also, I know that the woman who managed the Weminuche for about the last 10 years just retired and a new wilderness manager is taking over this season.

That said, the mandatory registration is a 90 second burden the FS is imposing on wilderness visitors to fill out a simple info card, to help gauge usage. That usage data is incredibly valuable to the wilderness managers because it allows them to quantify use and plead their case for funding. Other Ranger Districts in southern Colorado are lucky to have 2-3, if any, wilderness rangers to clean campsites, pick trash out of fire rings, eliminate inappropriate/redundant fire rings, clear trees from trails, keep the yahoos in check and perform other stewardship in the backcountry. But because the Columbine RD (home of Chicago Basin) has been able to document use, they have typically been able to justify 6-7 rangers a year to take care of the wilderness. Last year, the district endured substantial budget cuts and could only hire 2 rangers.

The train and the Chicago Basin 14ers attract so many visitors that it really makes a world of difference to have those extra pairs of boots on the ground to help protect the wilderness values that make the Weminuche so special.

In 2010, my supervisor communicated to the Weminuche Wilderness manager that human waste was becoming a substantial problem in Chicago Basin, and we were asked for documentation of the problem. The following hitch, we spent 3 days inventorying and documenting over 100 campsites in Chicago Basin. It was almost frightening how you could walk to the center of almost any campsite, take a look around and ask yourself, if I had to 'go' right now, where would I 'go?' Walk off and visit those 'spots' and more often than not, they had either toilet paper, human waste, or both sitting on the surface. We tried to pick up the tp and bury the waste, but that is obviously not a solution. Equally bad were folks who grabbed a free ReStop/Wag-Bag from the TH, used it, and then left it in the Basin.

For my money, I think that requiring visitors to stop for 90 seconds and fill out a registration card greatly increases the odds that they will stop and read the LNT ethics and practices and hopefully get some more folks to be more conscientious of their impact in the wilderness. I'm sure many wilderness veterans will find this to be another instance of the FS overreaching with silly regulations, but for every savvy visitor we met, we met another less-than-savvy visitor - and a disproportionate amount of those less-than-savvy visitors were in Chicago Basin.

I haven't met the new Weminuche Wilderness manager so I can't speak to his/her plans, but I know that in the past, both the wilderness manager and lead wilderness ranger on the Columbine have encouraged rangers to be a 'courteous host' and educate rather than cite >90% of visitors in violation of wilderness regulations. In my time as a ranger, we always asked for compliance first, and only cited in the instances where someone violated a blatant regulation (ie campfires in Needle Creek), or if they were in violation of multiple regulations at once.


Thanks for providing your perspective on this discussion - very well said sir

Re: Weminuche Registration

Postby mtnfiend » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:03 am

Registration aside, it would be interesting to know what would happen to people's behavior (Chicago basin in particular) if they were cited and fined for not following wilderness regulations?
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