Is it true? Is it possible? Have we achieved ‘sustainable tourism’? It seems like an ideological fantasy that was once another cliché catchphrase in the conference room or on the Zoom call. Of course, the definition of sustainable tourism is a subjective reflection on one’s own experiences. After the last two summer seasons here in Paradise, I have to go out on a limb here and say that we have done it. Perhaps not in every sector of our local culture and economy, but in the backyard, we’ve done it.
The very reason we started the CBCC in 2017 was to stem the tide of overuse, high volume impacts, and resource damage. Over those years, working alongside community partners, local government, the Tourism Association and STOR amongst others, ‘sustainable tourism’ did seem like a highfalutin fantasy. With collaborative efforts and messaging, we all worked towards that goal. Designated camping was indeed a huge catalyst for that positive change, and the last two summer seasons present enough data that help us go out on that limb and say we’ve done it.
The last two seasons, there were still camping spots to be found, even on the 4th of July. No particular weekend was ‘too busy’ in the backcountry. No particular weekend brought the doom and gloom of overuse, or heavy resource damage. Of course, the Lower Loop, the Lupines, OBJ, and other close to town and high use areas were crowded, but that was expected. Venture just that bit further from those areas, and you could find solitude and privacy, even on the 4th of July.
Sure, we have some sacrifice areas, and they are depressing, but essential. 401 for example, has become that sacrificial, highly visited trail that you don’t want to be a part of any given weekend of the summer. It’s a shame to see the volume, the shuttling, the massive user numbers on Gothic Road, one of our most sensitive and glorious drainages. While the hordes are making 9 point turns on Schofield pass and dropping off users, there’s still plenty of trail – and good trail – out there for us to make a full escape from that madness. Musician’s Camp and Tent City get a bit hammered, but rightfully so, now that there’s the infrastructure in place to deal with it. They are close to town, have cell service (Musician’s Camp), and make for a quick and convenient camp for visitors to the valley. We must have these consolidated and planned for sacrifice areas in order to keep the rest of our pristine backyard intact.
Town itself was still busy. That’s great! We can’t deny the hand that feeds, and we provide a first-class tourist and recreation destination. Now if we can only get some more restaurants open! Where are you Mr. Walter? I know of retail shops that had a good summer. From what we heard, hotel guests were down, but the revenues were the same or higher. The RMBL visitor center saw exorbitant numbers of visitors and although Gothic is such a sensitive and beautiful area, at least RMBL is there to educate and inform visitors, provide some amenities, and keep things in check. Now if we can only shut down that road to all those cars (Maroon Bells style), and get a wide recreation path from Snodgrass to Gothic.
Our CBCC crews this year were truly crusaders! They are trail and stewardship heroes, and we can’t speak enough about them. In our 6th season, this year’s crew brought the shine! Grant, Jake, Erik, Grant, and Joe were all stars! They are pros, and their good energy, positive spirits, and tireless efforts were so vividly witnessed across so many parts of our end of the Valley. From early season trees in deep snow on 409 and 402 (Strawberry), to the end of season efforts on 400, the boys went deep and far to put ‘sustainable’ into the trails. Along with CBMBA volunteer efforts, the boys put in huge efforts on the Hammer (405.3a) and extensive work on the new Mogul Storage Trails! What a gem they are – so close to town. We are humbled and grateful for the work the CB Land Trust does, and we were so honored to have the opportunity to build the new Long Lake Trail alongside them. We partnered with our friends at HCCA and the USFS to assist in their beaver dam analog project out on Trail Creek in the Taylor River drainage, and learned a lot in doing so. The boys spent serious time on the Teocalli Ridge climb and realized a sustainable tread that should hold up for some time. We partnered with Adaptive Sports and along with our hearty volunteers, we built a 200’ long timber wall to provide for a wider path along a steep bench on Lupine 1. We’ll always have work to do, and we love to do it!
Of course, there are always going to be the negative impacts out there … let’s review them, shall we? This year we pulled and remediated 3 backcountry toilets from the forest, found and removed another ‘hillbilly hot tub’, cleaned up the ‘Doha to Denver’ abandoned and illegal campsite, and of course found that pesky human waste to remove from trail heads and camping areas. Crews built more worm fencing to dictate proper designated camping areas, and monitored/stewarded the entire designated camping area (6 drainages) the entire length of the season.
We can’t ever say enough about our partners, and those that inspire us to do what we do. To our friends at the USFS/Gunnison Ranger District, we couldn’t be more thankful. We are proud to be STOR committee participants, and grateful for the Gunnison County Stewardship Fund and the National Forest Foundation for their lasting CBCC support. The Town of Mt. Crested Butte is a stalwart CBCC supporter (the very first CBCC supporter), and trusted partner. 1% for Open Space has been so good to us, and we are so proud to work alongside the Town of Crested Butte, and thankful for the recreation amenities they provide. We are humbled by the Gunnison County Met. Rec. District, and grateful for their benevolent support. Without the above mentioned, and without this all-star community support, the CBCC would not be. We are ever-grateful, and we’ll see you next year, in our 7th field season.
Please reach out anytime with observations, questions, or how to get involved at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association
CBCC 2022 Year End Stats
Trees cleared – 404
Campsites cleaned/monitored – 1,249
Miles of trail maintained/worked on – 52.92 miles
Trash collected – 1,263.9 lbs.
Reaches/Actual Contacts – 747
Fire rings decommissioned – 52
Human waste properly disposed of – 37
Drains built – 221
Feet of armoring/hardened trail – 170’
Campers outside of designated camping spots – 9