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The environment desk at Aspen Public Radio covers issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the state of Colorado including water use and quality, impact of recreation, population growth and oil and gas development. APR’s Environment Reporter is Elizabeth Stewart-Severy.

Conundrum At Conundrum Hot Springs: Large Crowds Hurting Environment

High Country News/hcn.org

White River National Forest officials are concerned about overuse at Conundrum Hot Springs, outside Aspen. Forest Service staffers recently pulled more than 35 pounds of trash from the popular recreation area and the number of visitors continues to grow.

Visitors hike from Aspen and Crested Butte to reach the hot springs in the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness. The area sees more than 3000 people each summer. Martha Moran with the Forest Service says the numbers are impacting the area’s Wilderness character.

"The Wilderness value is about solitude and having that quiet spot. And, up there, on a normal basis during the busy season, there are more 20 groups per day and it’s quite the party scene."

During their last haul, the staffers pulled toilet paper, bullet shells, clothing, towels and even light bulbs from the area. Over the years the Forest Service has enforced rules like no dogs and campfires to curb the impacts. Now, they’re considering additional measures.

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