By Lorena Williams
The San Juan National Forest began seasonal closures of Forest System roads to wheeled motorized traffic, as well as motorized and some nonmotorized trails, on Dec. 1 and will continue with closures, based on snow conditions.
The Columbine, Dolores and Pagosa ranger district recreation staff will close gates on roads and trails temporarily to prevent damage to road surfaces and/or protect critical wildlife habitat. These roads will open in the spring as conditions allow, generally around May 1.
Travelers should always be prepared for winter conditions and travel with shovels, tire chains and appropriate safety equipment necessary for winter conditions.
Even if snow levels are not deep, wheeled motorized use can damage road surfaces during freezing and thawing periods. Seasonal road and trail closures also protect critical habitat for deer and elk in winter and early spring when temperatures are cold, snow is deep and food is scarce. During these critical times, human disturbance can threaten the survival of deer and elk, especially pregnant females.
Please visit the San Juan National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps and Road conditions Web page, https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sanjuan/maps-pubs/?cid=fseprd635856, for up-to-date road closures and conditions across all districts. District Motor Vehicle Use Maps also have an allowable access date table for roads.
The Pagosa Ranger District will be temporarily closing most Forest System roads and trails on a staggered schedule beginning Dec. 1, with the majority closing by Dec. 15 and 22.
Visitors to the national forest should be prepared to encounter additional closed gates on roads and trails across the San Juan National Forest as winter conditions develop.
For additional information on road closures, please contact the specific ranger district office at:
• Columbine Ranger District: (970) 884-2512.
• Dolores Ranger District: (970) 882-7296.
• Pagosa Ranger District: (970) 264-2268.
For information on current fire restrictions, conditions and recreation opportunities on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874.