Dispersed Camping and Overcrowding Taking its Toll on Public Lands

"Local public lands volunteer groups documented more than 2,800 dispersed camping sites that generated more than a ton and a half of garbage, the report found. More than 550 sites were contaminated by human waste." -David Gilbert (The Colorado Sun)

Gilbert, D. (2022, February 4). Dispersed camping is out of control in Chaffee County. Officials are seeking solutions. The Colorado Sun. Retrieved From

We have all heard it before and we will hear it again, but our public lands are being loved to death. Mountain communities, Forest Service offices, and the Bureau of Land Management are scrambling to get a grasp on overcrowding and dispersed camping on our public lands. The article tagged in the link above is specifically based on the negative impacts of dispersed camping in Chaffee County, but we are seeing the same statistics and negative impacts here in Grand County and numerous other places of the mountain west. Public lands visitation in Colorado has soared, citing 42% more visitors per year when compared to before the Covid Pandemic. This coupled with an 11% decrease in public land agency funding has spelled trouble for our natural places. New publically established dispersed campsites, garbage, and human waste are among the biggest issues and land management agencies are struggling with how to control it. Many are considering closing areas to dispersed camping or establishing designated campsites and requiring people to make reservations. Some areas have already resorted to taking these measures, but it is still too early to analyze the impacts of these decisions. In the meantime, if you get out to camp on our public lands please practice Leave No Trace and try to leave our natural spaces as you found them!