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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.

Forest Service Releases Final Hanging Lake Decision

Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

Hundreds of thousands of people visited Hanging Lake last year, and the U.S. Forest Service says too much traffic has caused damage to the sensitive ecosystem. On Friday, the agency released its final decision to require hikers to get permits to visit the popular spot.


Elizabeth Stewart-Severy breaks down the latest details with host Zoe Rom.

The basics of the plan remain the same: There will be a permitting system that limits the number of people to 615 in one day, and those people will have to make reservations in advance. It’s meant to protect the unique ecosystem — a rare travertine lake with hanging garden plant communities. Officials say the entire area is being damaged with the heavy congestion. In peak season, more than 1,000 people make the short hike up to the lake.

Beginning in May 2019, hikers will need to take a shuttle to the trailhead, and the Forest Service is partnering with the City of Glenwood Springs to manage that new system. 

Glenwood Springs Town Manager Debra Figueroa said this assuages fears about how the permit system could hurt the city's economy; with the shuttle based in Glenwood Springs, people will still be coming to town before going to Hanging Lake.

Details on the shuttle service and the cost of permitting are expected later this fall. 


Aspen native Elizabeth Stewart-Severy is excited to be making a return to both the Red Brick, where she attended kindergarten, and the field of journalism. She has spent her entire life playing in the mountains and rivers around Aspen, and is thrilled to be reporting about all things environmental in this special place. She attended the University of Colorado with a Boettcher Scholarship, and graduated as the top student from the School of Journalism in 2006. Her lifelong love of hockey lead to a stint working for the Colorado Avalanche, and she still plays in local leagues and coaches the Aspen Junior Hockey U-19 girls.
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