Historic buildings could come under recreation fee umbrella

Sidebar by Bob Berwyn

Forest Service Fees – June 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

As Congress prepares to consider making the recreation fee program permanent, Forest Service recreation managers are putting together a wish list by identifying sites that could benefit from the cash infusion that fees can bring.

On the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, the emphasis seems to be on a series of historic buildings that the agency would like to open up to the public. Currently, there is very little funding available to preserve valuable historic resources.

Charging the public to visit the buildings would enable the Forest Service to do the needed work, says Pueblo-based Lance Tyler, recreation manager for the forest. Some of the structures could be operated as bed-and-breakfast type lodgings, or made available as conference facilities. Educational tours could also be part of the program.

First on the list is the Rourke Ranch, a New Mexico-style adobe ranch built in 1898, Tyler says. The Ranch is located in the Picketwire Canyon area, south of La Junta.

Tyler says the Roberts Cabin, south of Boreas Pass in Park County is also on the list, as is the Bassam Guard Station, located between Salida and Trout Creek.

“We’d probably look at some more opportunities for interpretive applications,” Tyler says, explaining that the self-guided tours at Picketwire Canyon are so popular that the agency turns people away.

Tyler says the forest might look at some of the popular areas around Clear Lake Reservoir, in the vicinity of Leadville, to see if they might be suitable for inclusion in the rec fee program.

Pam DeVore, who manages the program at the regional level, also mentioned the Chalk Creek Canyon area as a potential fee area.

Based on the sites the Forest Service included in the demonstration phase, program managers are looking for locations that see intensive use and therefore require hands-on management and a high level of maintenance.

All of the officials interviewed for this story say access to the majority of Forest Service lands will always be free. –BB