News Flash

Pitkin County Press Releases

Posted on: July 14, 2022

Study to engage trail users to assess outdoor experiences

OST logo - white on green

Starting July 21, some trail users in the upper Roaring Fork Valley will be asked to carry a GPS unit that tracks their route and then participate in a survey to assess their experiences in the great outdoors.

The survey data is intended to help local land managers better understand visitor experiences and perceptions on a handful of trails in Pitkin County.

Partners in the project include: Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, City of Aspen, and towns of Snowmass Village and Basalt.

These agencies and local governments recognize that the pressure on recreational resources throughout the county has been steadily increasing, often reaching a level of use that exceeds the available infrastructure during peak times. With the continued increase in demand for trail-based outdoor experiences and the need to manage recreational use to minimize resource impacts or alleviate safety concerns, the partnership is seeking to better understand the dynamics at portals that are connected to local open space properties or federal lands.

This summer’s field work is the first step in a multi-year process to understand the challenges and develop strategic solutions to manage recreation in Pitkin County. 

Doctoral students from Utah State University’s Recreation Ecology and Management program will conduct the survey work. They will be stationed at five popular trailheads that provide access to adjacent public lands, where they will intercept visitors for the statistically valid survey. Participants will be asked to voluntarily carry a GPS unit that will record their route. Upon their return, they will respond to questions that explore social conditions and their experience during that visit.

The visitor survey data and additional research findings will be compiled into a baseline report that describes existing ecological information, use patterns and visitor expectations and experiences that will be built upon in the years ahead. 

In 2023, the partners will seek grant funding to engage a consultant to formalize a coalition and facilitate a planning process to establish a vision, goals and strategies to address recreation management across all public lands in Pitkin County.

Contact: Gary Tennenbaum, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails director | gary.tennenbaum@pitkincounty.com | 970-920-5355