Forest implements camping restrictions in popular areas to address overcrowding

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Forest officials yesterday announced new camping restrictions in response to overcrowding caused, in part, by homeless members of the labor force. The impacts on the forest from too many people camping has been increasingly problematic in recent years.

District Rangers Mary Moore and Todd Stiles have decided to implement a new system for dispersed camping that requires vehicles to park in marked designated sites in some areas of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The areas covered in this decision on the Jackson and Blackrock Ranger Districts include Spread Creek/Toppings Lake drainages, Shadow Mountain, lower Gros Ventre drainage, and the Curtis Canyon/lower Flat Creek drainage.

Places like Curtis Canyon have become the go-to choice of 90-day wonders for cheap housing.

Additionally, the area around Curtis Canyon campground and the Gros Ventre Wedding Tree will be managed for day use only (overnight camping will not be allowed) and the camping stay limit will be five days in the Spread Creek/Toppings drainages between May 1st and Labor Day.

The decision also includes changes to the Motor Vehicle Use Map to better reflect actual conditions on the ground and a decision to remove the pedestal grills at the Cache Creek to reduce wildfire risk.

The decision to implement a new system for dispersed camping responds to the increase in visitation in National Forest areas near Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. Dispersed camping has resulted in several undesirable impacts, notably unattended campfires, food storage/litter violations, public safety concerns, improper human sanitation, damage to soil and vegetation from off-route motor vehicle use, and some conflict between day use and camping use.

With an increasing number of wildfires linked to abandoned campfires, Jackson District Ranger Mary Moore noted that it is imperative that we improve management of dispersed camping, particularly within the wildland-urban interface.

Blackrock District Ranger Todd Stiles emphasized that our decision is not about reducing overall camping opportunities; rather our intent is to better manage where campsites are located to improve overall resource conditions and the visitor experience.

“We are committed to being able to adapt how camping is managed over time to accommodate people to the maximum extent possible while sustaining the land and experiences that make people want to return,” Stiles said.

Implementation of the new designated site system will be a work in progress and the Forest Service welcomes help from the public. New signing has been put in place in three of the areas. More signing, maps, website information, site work, and recruitment of ambassadors is planned for the coming year.

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