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Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363
If helicopter resources are available, Rocky Mountain National Park staff will be conducting helicopter operations to fly tread material to two trail locations beginning September 18 and continuing through early October. The Glacier Gorge parking area will be the base of operations for this project and will be closed during this time.
This project is the culmination of two large trail reconstruction projects; the Nymph Lake to Emerald Lake trail and the Loch Vale to Sky Pond trail. The helicopter will transport trail tread material which is a gravel and dirt mixture. According to Dave Larsen, the Trails Supervisor for Rocky Mountain National Park, “This material is used to ‘top off’ built trail structures such as rock walls, waterbars and other erosion control structures. Along with the built structures, this material allows the park’s trail crew to provide a sustainable and user-friendly trail for two popular trails as well as lessening impacts from erosion.”
Rocky Mountain National Park is managed as recommended wilderness. Therefore, all management decisions affecting wilderness must be consistent with the “minimum requirement concept.” The minimum requirement concept reviews whether a proposed management action is appropriate or necessary for administration of the area as wilderness, does not pose a significant impact to wilderness resources and character and that the techniques and types of equipment minimize impact to wilderness resources and character. For this project it was determined by park staff that using a helicopter to fly in 200 tons of material in 7 to 10 days had a minimum impact compared to the estimated 250 days of packing tread material by mules or digging up the material on site.
The Bear Lake Road and area trails will remain open, with some possible minor delays as the helicopter flies over certain areas. The short trail leading from the Glacier Gorge parking area will be closed when the Glacier Gorge parking lot is closed. Access to Alberta Falls, Mills Lake and the other network of trails in the area will be available from the Bear Lake parking area.
Weather and availability of a helicopter may change this project schedule. Due to fires in the Pacific Northwest and Montana, helicopter resources are currently difficult to schedule. Please call the Rocky Mountain National Park information office at (970) 586-1206 for current project information. Funding for these trail projects is from a variety of sources including Rocky Mountain Nature Association donations and park fees.