Monday, October 14, 2019

National Visitor Use Monitoring Surveys in Progress

The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland will launch a yearlong effort to gain a better understanding of how many visitors recreate in the National Forest. This National Forest survey was conducted in 2015 on your National Forest and we are returning 5 years later to update the information previously gathered, as well as to look at recreation trends over time. This process known as National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM), will occur every 5 years, is geared toward collecting data on what types of recreational activities visitors engage in and how satisfied they are with the facilities and services provided.

The Forest Service and contract employees will be working in developed and dispersed recreation sites and along Forest Service roads, they will be wearing bright orange vests and be near a sign that says “Traffic Survey Ahead”.

The information gathered is useful for forest planning and even local community tourism planning. It provides the National Forest managers with an estimate of how many people actually recreate on federal lands and what activities they engage in while there.

This recreation visitor program gathers basic visitor information. All responses are confidential, in fact a person’s name is never written anywhere on the survey. The basic interview lasts about 8 minutes. The questions visitors are asked include:

* Where they recreated on the Forest?

* How many people they traveled with?

* How long they were on the Forest?

* What other recreation sites they visited while on the Forest? and

* How satisfied they were with the facilities and services provided?

Although the survey is entirely voluntary, we would appreciate it if visitors would pull up and answer a few questions. It’s important for them to talk with local people using the forest as well as out-of-area visitors so all types of visitors are represented in the study. Even if you answered the survey questions once already, we would like to talk to you about each of your National Forest visits, so if you see us out there again, please stop for another interview.

For more information the survey visit

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, October 11, 2019

Being Bear Aware - Hyperphagia by the Numbers

Twenty chicken sandwiches, 10 large orders of french fries, 10 soft drinks and 10 milkshakes. That’s the approximate fast food order needed to total 20,000 calories, the amount Colorado Parks and Wildlife says a hungry black bear needs to consume every single day as they pack on the pounds to build up their fat reserves to survive winter hibernation.

While Coloradans are enjoying the sights and sounds of autumn, bears are reaching the peak of hyperphagia, an instinctive metabolic response to the changing seasons. Hyperphagia triggers a “feeding frenzy” to gain much-needed fat storage to help ensure winter survival. Bears will continue their intense search for food for up to 20 hours per day through mid-December, or when natural food sources are no longer available. As colder autumn weather brings frost and freezing to the state and natural food sources begin declining, bears may look to humans for easily accessible meals.

“Since early April, our staff has received nearly 5,000 bear incident report calls, and over half of those have been about bears finding food sources,” said CPW Interpretation and Wildlife Viewing Coordinator Mary McCormac. “If given a choice between foraging for food for 20 hours or getting all the calories needed from a few dumpsters in one alley, which would you choose? Bears are extremely smart and will try to get as many calories as quickly and as easily as they can before denning for the winter. That really puts it on us as humans to be responsible with our property, especially our trash.”

With the need to quickly build fat reserves, bears will seek out food sources that provide a higher caloric intake such as fallen fruit, nuts and especially the types of meals found in your trash can or bird feeders. Giving bears easy access to food allows them to become overly comfortable in populated areas. This often leads to bears becoming more aggressive and increases the possibility of a dangerous human-bear conflict.

“This time of year, CPW fields dozens of calls each day regarding bears turning over trash cans, entering homes and showing little to no fear of people when looking for food,” said McCormac. “The only reason we get so many of these calls is that people are being careless; not locking their doors, not securing their trash, keeping bird feeders out and generally not being careful when they know bears are looking for an easy meal. Living responsibly with bears is everyone’s responsibility.”

Bearproofing homes, cars and other personal property not only helps keep people safe, but it can also prevent conflicts and even the needless death of a bear.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Major Search Effort Launched For Clues Pertaining To James Pruitt Disappearance In February

Rocky Mountain National Park announced yesterday that approximately fifty Search and Rescue Team members were involved in additional search efforts for James Pruitt on Wednesday, October 9. Pruitt was last heard from on February 28, 2019. Yesterday’s search efforts were concentrated in off trail areas in the Prospect Canyon drainage and the Glacier Gorge drainage above Jewel Lake. Five teams, comprised of forty searchers, conducted grid searches in areas heavily covered with thick timber, dead and down trees, thick willow, tall grass and mountain streams.

Throughout the summer, smaller teams have focused specific search efforts in other segments of the search area. The general search area has also experienced significant visitation over the last four months. Unfortunately, no clues have been found.


On March 3, 2019, search efforts began in the Glacier Gorge area of Rocky Mountain National Park for James Pruitt, 70, of Etowah, Tennessee. After a vehicle parked at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead was determined to belong to Pruitt Sunday morning, March 3, rangers contacted Pruitt’s family in Tennessee. His family confirmed he was in the area and hadn’t been heard from since Thursday morning, February 28, at approximately 10 am. They were unaware of his destination for that day.

More than two feet of snow accumulated in the Glacier Gorge area between Thursday, February 28 and Sunday, March 3. That significant snowfall in mountainous terrain added to the challenge of search efforts, making finding clues to Pruitt’s whereabouts even more difficult.

Active search efforts took place March 3 through March 9. The overall search area encompassed approximately 15 square miles and included the Glacier Gorge drainage, the Loch Vale drainage and the Glacier Creek drainage. Searchers concentrated efforts in the heavily forested areas near Bear Lake and the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, the Nymph Lake area, Chaos Creek area, the Alberta Falls area, Lake Haiyaha, Mario’s Gully east of Lake Haiyaha and the winter trails to Mills Lake and The Loch. Off snow packed trails, searchers encountered chest deep snow in numerous areas.

Assisting Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members has been Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue based in Boulder County, Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol, Douglas County Search and Rescue, Alpine Rescue Team, numerous dog teams from Larimer County Search and Rescue, Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States, and the Colorado Search and Rescue Association. On Tuesday, March 5, a multi-mission aircraft (MMA) from the State of Colorado assisted efforts with fixed-wing aerial reconnaissance over Sky Pond, Lake Haiyaha, Flattop Mountain and Bierstadt Lake.

James Pruitt is still a missing person and our investigation will continue.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Living Step By Step on The Colorado Trail

Have you ever wondered what it's like to hike the entire Colorado Trail - from Denver to Durango? This video from Keith ("Spreadsheet") and Gina ("Mulch") do an excellent job of showing what to expect, what you'll see, and what it takes to tackle the 485-mile Colorado Trail. This, their second attempt. was completed in 33 days. On their first try, in 2015, they ran out of time just 75 miles short of the finish. Hope you enjoy:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Old Fall River Road In Rocky Mountain National Park Will Close To Vehicles For The Season October 7

Old Fall River Road closes for the season to vehicles on Monday, October 7. The road will be closed to all uses from Monday, October 7, through Thursday, October 10, for park staff to conduct road maintenance. On Friday, October 11, Old Fall River Road will reopen to bicycles, leashed pets and walkers through November 30. Leashed pets and bicycles are only allowed on the road, not on side trails. On December 1, the road will revert to trail status.

Old Fall River Road provides access to Chasm Falls, as well as the Chapin / Chiquita / Ypsilon Mountain hike.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please visit or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Senate bill increases funding for the National Park Service by $133 million

Last week the United States Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations bill for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. If enacted, it would increase National Park Service funding by $133 million and improve funding for other federal agencies that support our parks’ wildlife, clean air and water. The increased funding commitment will better protect park resources, support jobs, address overdue park maintenance needs and enhance the experience for 330 million annual park visitors.

Statement by John Garder, Senior Director for Budget and Appropriations for the National Parks Conservation Association:
“Our national parks continue to face significant funding challenges for everyday operations and maintenance needs that help keep our most treasured places up and running safely for all to enjoy. This bi-partisan bill, through the leadership of Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tom Udall (D-NM) and support of the committee, provides additional resources for rangers whose numbers have been on the decline for years, and helps fix crumbling park roads and aging facilities. The bill also shows strong oversight of the administration’s damaging effort to reorganize the Department of the Interior, in part by defunding it.”
Key provisions that benefit our parks include:

• Provides a $62 million, 2% increase for the operation of national parks, supporting park stewardship, overdue park repairs, visitor programs and park rangers.

• Restricts new funding for the reorganization of the Department of the Interior, which threatens the management of our parks, their resources, the employees of the National Park Service, and its partner land management agencies.

• Increases funding for Park Service federal land acquisition, better protecting Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Cumberland Island National Seashore and many other parks.

• Provides needed support for National Heritage Areas, supporting historic preservation and interpretation at communities throughout the country.

• Provides increases to address the Park Service’s nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog, helping to fix our park roadways and aging infrastructure.

• Urges protections for Chaco Culture National Historical Park from new oil and gas development on adjacent federal public lands.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, September 30, 2019

Over 70 miles of Medicine Bow National Forest trails cleared this past summer; wilderness solitude monitoring underway

The USDA Forest Service, in conjunction with Wyoming Conservation Corps, American Conservation Experience, and Wilderness Outreach, was able to commit resources to improving trails on the Laramie and Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger Districts over the course of the summer. With a focus on trails within wilderness, the Forest Service and trail crews were able to clear over 70 miles of trail this season in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Accomplishments include clearing fallen trees from the entirety of system trails within the Savage Run Wilderness and Encampment River Wilderness, including clearing over 800 trees along the Encampment River Trail (470). Most trails in the Platte River Wilderness and Huston Park Wilderness have also been improved – including the complete clearing of Douglas Creek Trail (506), Platte River Trail (473), and Baby Lakes Trail (859). There are plans to continue trail maintenance and improvements in the 2020 season, dependent on funding.

The Forest Service would like to thank American Conservation Experience and Wyoming Conservation Corps for their combined 7,680 hours of work to clear trails, as well as Wilderness Outreach for their 960 total hours of work on the Douglas Creek Trail. Thanks to Common Outdoor Ground (COG) for collecting valuable planning information, such as the location and number of downed trees, through the Rapid Trail Assessment Project.

The Forest Service has partnered with COG, a community organization in southeast Wyoming, to monitor solitude conditions in the Huston Park and Encampment River wilderness areas. This partnership is possible in part thanks to the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, for the Wilderness Stewardship Performance grant awarded to COG.

Solitude monitoring includes recording encounters within wilderness areas during at least a four-hour period. Those interested in assisting with the solitude monitoring program may participate individually or through an organized group. Signage for the solitude monitoring program as well as monitoring handouts will be available at major trailheads of the Huston Park and Encampment River wilderness.

For more information about volunteering for the wilderness solitude monitoring program, contact: Meghan Kent, Wilderness Solitude Lead for COG,

For more information regarding the wilderness solitude monitoring program and wilderness stewardship, contact: Rhaude Dahlinghaus, Forest Service Recreation Assistant,

Ramble On: A History of Hiking