MONTE VISTA — The Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF) announced Monday, March 7, the annual spring road closures have begun across the Forest.
Each year, as late winter temperatures rise and cause snow melting, forest roadbeds soften and are at increased risk of damage from vehicle traffic.
Wheels can cause ruts in roads that can increase water run-off velocity and cause subsequent erosion. Increased silting into local water sources can be damaging to both the waterway and the aquatic life within.
Conversely, vehicles on soft roads can also cause large mud holes. To avoid these problems, roads are closed for short periods of time, to allow for drying and hardening of the roadbed.
“We urge the public to respect the seasonal road closures,” said Andy Kelher, deputy forest supervisor for the Rio Grande National Forest. “Road closures are necessary to protect the resource that we love so much.”
Kelher recognizes that restricted access to your favorite locations can be frustrating but encourages the public to understand that damaged roads cause costly maintenance and resource damage that can have widespread effects.
Closed roads are opened as soon as it is determined that the roadbeds will not be damaged by heavy vehicles. Often, roads may appear to be dry in lower elevations but may remain closed until the higher sections of the roads are also appropriately dry enough for vehicle use.
Current road conditions can be found on the RGNF’s home page by navigating to the individual ranger district’s “road conditions” link on the right side of the page.
All travel on the RGNF is regulated by the Motor Vehicle Use Maps that can be found online.