JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Jefferson County Open Space is asking recreationalists to be mindful of trail closures during wet weather. Since the weekend, it has issued more than a dozen citations letting hikers and bikers know it’s serious.
“Some of those received written warning and actually more than two dozen did received a citation for the violation of being on the muddy trail,” said Matt Robbins, Community Connections Manager for Jefferson County Open Space.
The fine for recreating on a closed trail is $150.
“They were folks that were really egregious. Where, it was clear that they had passed through an area that had multiple signs. We had some incidents where we tried to make contact, and they either walked or ran or road away and so when we finally caught up with them, they received a citation,” he said.
Robbins says it’s more about education than fines.
“A lot of it is, they just aren’t thinking about the ramifications of their actions. They’re just not thinking through what happens if they say, ‘oh I just went for a hike for an hour. It’s just a little bit of mud?’ or ‘I rode my bike just a little ways.’”
On Wednesday, Robbins met CBS4 at the trailhead to Apex Park. One of several with a temporary weather closure. It wasn’t long before he spotted two men and their dog, hiking.
The pair from Florida had already been issued a fine and while they understood, they didn’t think the trail was that bad.
It’s a complaint Robbins hears frequently, but he says staff looks at conditions daily and make decisions to close based on a number of factors.
“We have over 240 miles of trail, and we have staff that go out and hike every mile of that trail and then we can determine what the expectations are.”
He says one day on the trail can ruin it long-term for everyone.
“If you’re on the trail, you think about the erosion that can happen when you’re in there it’s muddy. You’re displacing the water and the mud and the soil. If you leave the trail you’ll be walking onto different plant life that cannot simply just be replanted, and if you do it enough and it’s trampled, you’ll actually kill the plant and then that widens the trail and changes the experience.”
Not to mention, the ruts frozen footprints make in the mud.
“We enjoy our trails and any damage that occurs this week because of the few, will change the experience for the many who come next week when it warms up.”
Currently, there are trail closures at seven parks around Jefferson County.
Jefferson County Open Space regularly posts information about conditions and closures online. You can also sign up to receive alerts on closures directly to your phone.