Hot Spot

South Colony Lakes; Sangre de Cristo Wilderness

Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, CO

The South Colony Lakes, perched high in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness in southern Colorado, see a variety of recreation-related impacts from a diverse array of user groups. However, the largest portion of these users is made up of mountaineers looking to conquer one of several 14ers, or peaks over 14,000 feet, found in the Sangre de Cristo range. As the popularity of the 14ers continues to increase, so do the impacts. The South Colony Basin, which gives easy access to three of the peaks, sees impacts from improper disposal of human waste, damage to vegetation from the proliferation of campsites, and social trails. The Westcliffe office of the San Carlos Ranger District has one full time ranger and, even with the addition of two seasonal rangers, is hugely understaffed making addressing these impacts even harder.

During this Hot Spot we educated 330 people, including a newly formed local volunteer group, and helped protect three 14ers and Colony Lakes

Solution

Leave No Trace staff spent a week in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness and the surrounding community working with the San Carlos Ranger District rangers and local stakeholders to address the recreation-related impacts facing the area. The team led a three-hour workshop with participants from the nPS, BLM, USFS, a local volunteer group, and several guiding companies from around the region. This workshop gave the participants an in depth understanding of Leave No Trace techniques to help protect South Colony Lakes and the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness.

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