Fynn: Colorado needs to watch out for its parks

Fynn Bailey

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Colorado is a state rich with natural beauty.  It’s home to over 40 state parks with even more national parks, wild life preserves and public lands. Over a third of the land in Colorado is open to the public.

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The problem is that too many people want to see it.

While this is an issue in national parks all over the country, it is one that more people in Colorado should take notice of. Parks are overused and the high traffic from visitors actually degrades the nature the parks were intended to protect, as well as the visitor’s experiences.

Over 7.5 million people go to Colorado national parks ever year. An additional 12 million go to the state parks. This is a tremendous amount of guest considering only 5.7 million people even live in Colorado.

The Rocky Mountain National Park sees 4.5 million visitors a year by itself. On a crowded weekend, there is nowhere in the park that isn’t full of people. “We don’t have that magical place to send visitors on those days,” RMNP spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said.

All those people not only make a trip to the parks less “magical,” it’s also slowly killing the land itself. 

During the most recent government shutdown, where most park resources had been frozen, it was more obvious to see what humans were doing to the land. In the last month, mounds of garbage and human waste had been left all over major national parks, such as Yosemite, leaving potential long lasting effects and damage to wildlife populations. 

Some national parks in Colorado, even had to delay their re-openings due to the damages that had accumulated during the shutdown. 

The answer is not to limit the amount of people that can see the park since everyone should be able to enjoy nature. Therefore, the answer lies where it almost always does: funding. Parks need more money to maintain and organize this land.

To solve issues like crowded roads and parking, many parks like Zion and Yosemite have turned to using shuttles to bring people in. Unfortunately, planning of a continuous shuttle system takes money and manpower.

To help stop the natural erosion from said system, more money will be needed. Not to mention the $11.6 billion backlog on repairs needed just at national parks.

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Our parks aren’t just beautiful pieces of earth that deserve our protection they are also paying us back all the time. Rocky Mountain National Park added $455 million to Colorado’s economy in 2016. In total parks added $722 million that year.

chart describing parks and how many visitors they get as well as how muhc money they make for the state.
From Colorado Public Radio

Parks are a good investment. The more money we put into them for maintaining trails and organizing the masses that want to enjoy them, the more money we will get back as a state.

It can’t just be on the state government. People need to take personal responsibility for their waste and damage at parks. So when people go hiking they need to pick up their trash and stick to the trails. 

The culture of Colorado is built on a few key characteristics with the love of the outdoors being basically number one. As a state we should start putting our money where our heart is and consider better funding the park system.

Fynn Bailey can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online @FynnBailey