Increased Traffic Puts a Strain on State Parks

Colorado parks have seen an increase in traffic in recent years as the state population grows, and has scheduled several meetings to discuss the fiscal challenges that presents.

Southeast region Parks and Wildlife spokesman, Kyle Davidson, says it can be difficult for state parks to keep up.

"If you have a hundred thousand--a million more people statewide--visiting these state parks, you're generating a lot more revenue through parks passes and things of that nature," Davidson says. "But when you've got people who are using the resources a lot more, that means you're going to have to maintain them a lot more."

Davidson says waste management, infrastructure, and utility costs are primarily affected by the increased traffic.

Lake Pueblo State Park has about 1.8 million visitors each year, more than any other of the 42 state parks according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. In the past, visitors mostly came through between the months of May and September.     

But Lake Pueblo State Park manager, Monique Mullis, says due to warmer weather, population increases, and improved camping technologies, they've recently had more visitors in early spring and late fall. 

"Our budgets don't always take into account extra use in these fringe seasons," Mullis says. 

Mullis says that usage has begun to put a strain on the park budget.

She says new legislation to raise the minimum wage in the state will add another fiscal challenge.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is holding public meetings to discuss these new challenges. There will be a meeting at the Cheyenne Mountain State Park Visitor Center on November 22 at 6:30pm, and at the Lake Pueblo State Park Visitor Center on November 29 at 6:00pm.