Hot Spot

Blue Lakes; Mt. Sneffels Wilderness

Mt. Sneffels Wilderness, CO

The Blue Lakes in the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness are a spectacular set of cobalt blue lakes situated in a high alpine valley. This short 3.1 mile hike attracts visitors looking for an easy backpacking trip or day hike. Many of the area’s estimated 35,000 annual visitors tend to be from the Front Range of Colorado or the local western slope communities. The bulk of this visitation occurs in the short summer season, resulting in opportunities for cumulative recreation-related impacts. Impacts in this area include human waste (unburied waste and toilet paper), vegetation loss from campsite expansion, illegal campfire rings, social impacts and a sense of overcrowding, and parking issues. These impacts have grown with increases in visitation and overnight use in the last decade.

During this Hot Spot, we educated 467 people and worked toward better stewardship and protection of the 16,485 acre Mt. Sneffels Wilderness

Solution

Leave no Trace worked with staff from the US Forest Service to execute a week of training and educational outreach designed to address the severe recreation-related impacts occurring at Blue Lakes. The Team hosted a workshop for Forest Service staff, youth conservation crew members, Wilderness volunteers, and other local stakeholders that focused on teaching these individuals how to communicate the importance of Leave No Trace practices with the visiting public. These participants frequently have the opportunity to interact with visitors and influence their behavior before, during, and after their time at Blue Lakes. Leave No Trace staff also spent two days on-site with US Forest Service staff assessing the magnitude of the local impacts and educating visitors in the area. This enabled them to exemplify and give the Forest Service staff the tools and techniques for improving their contacts with visitors.

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