PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Mother Nature will no longer be paying the price for the shutterbugs' free-for-all.
Crews from the U.S. Forest Service are currently installing posts and ropes to guide visitors along Maroon Lake.
The lake, accompanied by the 14,000-foot Maroon Bells as backdrop, is regarded as the most photographed place in the state.
The guidance system will feature two lakeside observation areas particularly suited for picture-takers of the iconic Colorado scenery. It puts an end to the social trails and trampled vegetation that resulted from previous unrestrained access.
"We just want to create a good way to keep people on the trail," said Karen Schroyer, district ranger for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District.
More than 320,000 people visited Maroon Lake in the fall of 2017, she said. During September, parking spaces were full before the welcome station was staffed at 7 a.m.
"It's kind of like going to Yellowstone to the see the geyser," Schroyer explained to the Aspen Times.
Now, future portraits, photographs and selfies will be taken here more in line with "Tread Lightly" and "Leave No Trace" principles of environmental sensitivity.
"Over the years, with the numbers of people up there each summer, it's easy for people to get off the trails and create a picnic area," Schroyer said. "You can see where people have created new trails.
"Creating shortcuts and social trails … kills the vegetation and creates erosion problems with the soil."
One-third of the funding for the $30,000 project comes from the Aspen Environment Foundation. The project is expected to be completed at the end of the summer tourism season.
"It's actually an improvement," Schroyer said. "It looks really nice."
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