West Magnolia Dispersed Recreation Evaluation #NP-2033

Commenting on This Project

The Boulder Ranger District is seeking informal comments on improving dispersed recreation in West Magnolia area around Nederland, Colo. It is most helpful if comments and suggestions are framed as actionable items that fall under the categories of “engineering,” “education” and “enforcement.” An example of the three “E” triangle, when dealing with a bear issue, the engineering solution might be installing bear boxes. The education piece would be informing people via signs on how to use the bear boxes properly as well as teaching bear safety. The enforcement piece would be have regulations in place requiring people to use the bear boxes and writing tickets if they don’t. The Forest Service values public participation. Communications from the public, including commenters names and contact information will become a part of the public record for this effort. All comments must be respectful to all Forest users. These are public lands and any actions we take must respect everyone’s civil rights and may not single out any specific user group.


The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests are a special place. These forests are not only the Front Range’s shared backyard but a national treasure bringing people from across the country to get out of the city bustle; breathe the cool fresh mountain air; stretch and strengthen their bodies; commune with one another; and be alone.

As Colorado and the nation’s love and appreciation for recreation and the outdoors grows some of the places we value most are experiencing growing pains including user conflicts safety concerns  and impacts to important natural resources such as wildlife watersheds and vegetation.

One such place that’s been generating community concern for many years is the West Magnolia area near Nederland. Twenty years ago this area was home to more than 60 regularly-used undeveloped campsites. In 2001 then district ranger Christine Walsh designated and numbered 22 campsites along Haul Road asking users to camp only at the numbered sites. The strategy has had limited success.

Site Evaluation

On August 1 2018 District and Forest staff met with a group of community leaders representing the Nederland Board of Trustees Boulder County Boulder Sheriff’s Office Colorado Parks and Wildlife Nederland Police Department Nederland Fire Department PROSAB Peak to Peak Forest Watch NICHE Nederland Area Trails Organization and Boulder Mountain Bike Patrol. Together we toured the area and discussed options for acheiving the vision of the West Magnolia area as a recreation hub for non-motorized trails and camping amenity near the Town of Nederland.

The group considered ways in which education engineering and enforcement could be improved to enhance the experience of all users to limit conflict and to better protect the natural resources to sustain healthy habitat for wildlife and healthy watersheds.

What was clear is that this area has a high value as an access point to trails and town and that the ability to camp is an important part of that experience. The group brainstormed some short-term (low-cost highly feasible) fixes as well as some long-term management solutions. We are now compiling these into an informal report and recommendations.

Examples of the short term engineering ideas the group generated involve better placement and definition of designated campsites in more visible and accessible areas away from trails and natural water features that might be habitat for wildlife. Some of the education ideas included improved signs and maps and continuation of educational efforts by groups such as Peak to Peak Forest Watch and NICHE that are already showing success. Short-term enforcement ideas included stricter regulations (i.e. closures) to camping outside of the designated dispersed sites. The full list was much more comprehensive.

The full report is available here: West Magnolia Dispersed Camping Site Evaluation

What's Next

We also know that West Magnolia is not the only area experiencing growing pains. The Forest’s leadership team is responsible for managing 1.5 million acres of public land spanning from the Wyoming border south to Mount Evans and west to Loveland Pass and Grand County. Our ultimate goal is to manage dispersed recreation on a landscape scale not to deal with hot spots on a case-by-case basis pushing issues down the road. We want to address dispersed recreation holistically offering a variety of opportunities across the landscape that provide quality experiences for everyone.

As we develop our recommendations and proposed actions for West Magnolia and beyond we will be posting updates here. If you have previously provided your input via email your feedback has been captured and it is not necessary to resubmit again here.

See how others have commented on this project in the Reading Room.

Thank you again to all those who #GoBeyond for your public lands.

Option to Submit Comment Electronically

The form below can be used to submit your comments to the responsible project official.

National Forests have the option to post comments for public viewing on this web site via a public reading room. Active reading rooms allow the public to read or download your letter, including your contact information. If this project has an active reading room, a link labeled “Public Comment Reading Room” will appear on the main project page. The agency may withhold letters containing proprietary information, sensitive cultural or habitat locations, profanity, etc. All letters, including those not posted, will be considered and included as part of the project record.

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