Forest Service releases proposed management plan for Hanging Lake

Contact(s): Paula K. Peterson: (970) 827-5159 or pkpeterson@fs.fed.us


View of the popular Hanging LakeGLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – Aug. 22, 2017 - The White River National Forest has released the proposed management plan for Hanging Lake, which initiates a 30-day public comment period. Hanging Lake, a National Natural Landmark, is situated off Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, between the resort communities of Vail and Glenwood Springs.

Hanging Lake is distinctive not only for its beauty, but for its geological composition, a large and rare example of a travertine deposition lake and hanging garden plant community. The uniqueness of the lake, accessibility and widespread promotion has prompted visitation to increase over the years earning the lake status as one of Colorado’s top “bucket-list” hikes. In 2016, approximately 150,000 people visited Hanging Lake, a large increase from recent years. As visitation to the lake continues to rise each year, the results are natural resource and facility degradation, safety issues, parking congestion and impacts to the visitor experience.

To help preserve a quality visitor experience and reduce the impact to the area, the proposed plan sets a limit of 615 users per day, year-round, which would be managed through a fee-based reservation system.

Line of people along Hanging Lake Trail“Our goal is to protect and preserve the unique and fragile natural resources at the Hanging Lake area while sustaining high quality visitor experience for many years to come,” said Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Aaron Mayville. “As any returning visitor can attest, the challenges associated with managing Hanging Lake have grown in the past several years. We’ve been working with stakeholders to put together a management plan over that time, and I’m pleased to finally share that good work with everyone.”

The plan also proposes a mandatory shuttle system to manage daily capacity during the “peak” season (May-October). Shuttles would not be mandatory during the “off-peak” season (November-April); however, the daily capacity would remain in place and managed through a fee-based reservation system. The proposed plan includes an adaptive management strategy that relies on monitoring to ensure objectives are achieved and that the plan continues to be effective in the face of future changes.

The proposed fee-based reservation system would specifically cover costs associated with a permit system and/or transportation. Depending on the final decision, additional funds may be needed to help with maintenance and management of the area. Any decision making process for collecting fees for maintenance and management will be done as a separate process outside of this NEPA process and under the laws and regulations for that process such as under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

Public, partner and stakeholder input will be instrumental in the final design of the Hanging Lake Management Plan. The proposed management plan and associated project documents can be found at this link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=50479.

There will be a public open house from 5-7 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Glenwood Springs Library located at 815 Cooper Avenue in Glenwood Springs, Colo. to discuss the proposed plan. The public is encouraged to attend, learn more about the process and give feedback.

“We know people will have specific questions about the shuttle and reservation systems, but at this point in the process, we are still gathering comments and working out the details of how to implement the plan,” said Mayville. “Please submit your comments and let us know your thoughts and suggestions so we can work them into the process.”

Since 2013, the Forest Service has realized the need for comprehensive management at Hanging Lake and convened a partner working group to address short and long term management challenges. This group has worked collaboratively over the past several years to address the current challenges and also to help inform a strategy for the future.

How to Comment:

The environmental review process will culminate with a decision being issued by the Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger. The White River National Forest is providing this scoping period for the public to submit comments on the proposed plan. The comment period provides an opportunity for interested members of the public to have early and meaningful participation in the process.

Your questions and comments regarding this proposal are an integral part of the process. Respondents should include: (1) name, address, email, telephone number and organization represented, if any; (2) reference “Hanging Lake Plan” at the beginning of your comment; (3) specific facts, concerns or issues, and supporting reasons why they should be considered.

Specific written comments on the proposed project will be accepted until midnight, Sept. 21, 2017, or 30 calendar days following publication of this notice in the Vail Daily. The publication date in the Vail Daily, the newspaper of record, is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period. The regulations prohibit extending the length of the comment period.

Written comments must be submitted via mail, fax, electronically, or in person (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays) to Aaron W. Mayville, District Ranger, o/c Paula K. Peterson, Project Leader, P.O. Box 190, Minturn, CO 81645, FAX: 970-827-9343, Electronic comments including attachments can be submitted to https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=50479.

The proposed action is subject to an objection process, which includes an opportunity to object before the final decision is made. This process includes another 30-day comment period upon the release of the draft environmental assessment. Individuals and organization who provide comments during the 30-day scoping period and/or the 30-day comment period on the draft environmental assessment will have standing to file objections.

To receive correspondence regarding this project, or if you have additional questions about this project, please contact Paula K. Peterson at (970) 827-5159 or pkpeterson@fs.fed.us.

 





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/whiteriver/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD556034