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Mesa Verde Seeks Public Comment On Reducing Overcrowding

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Mesa Verde National Park (credit: Jason Hussong)

Mesa Verde National Park (credit: Jason Hussong)

CORTEZ, Colo. (CBS4) – Changes could be coming to Mesa Verde National Park as park officials are asking for the public’s help on how to deal with overcrowding.

The park will be taking comments from the public until July 14 for a new transportation plan.

Deputy Superintendent Bill Nelligan told the Cortez Journal the plan has always been to redirect visitors to Wetherill Mesa instead of Chapin Mesa, which he said “gets overrun,” but so far they’ve been unsuccessful.

The narrow and winding system of roadways were designed primarily for visitors in private vehicles, but the system has become outdated as more visitors prefer to walk, bike or take a bus, if that option was available.

“There is not a public bus system at Mesa Verde due to the expense, but for this plan, everything is on the table, so it is something to consider,” Nelligan told the Cortez Journal.

Because of the overcrowding at the attractions on Chapin Mesa visitors have been experiencing long waits and haven’t been able to enjoy the park as they had expected, according to park spokeswoman Betty Lieurance.

Park officials feel that while the attractions on Chapin Mesa are overcrowded, the attractions on Wetherill Mesa, which are also spectacular, aren’t being visited nearly as much.

Also under consideration is the fact that the many vehicles that travel through the park are creating tailpipe emissions that is causing a haze and harms plants and animals, as well as impedes views of the attractions.

“Improving opportunities like trails separate from the road, and more self-guided areas, so visitors have a sense of exploration and discovery is the goal of the plan,” Nelligan told the Cortez Journal. “There is good hiking at the park, but a lot of it has an urban, paved feel that could be improved. There is a sense you’re just driving to the next overlook.”

Submit comments via mail by July 14 to National Park Service, Denver Service Center, c/o Treff Alexander, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, CO 80225.

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