Southwest Colorado residents frustrated with tourists damaging fragile tundra

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OURAY COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Some people living in Colorado’s high country are noticing an uptick in the number of people who are causing damage to tundra and precious lands.

“Ouray is a beautiful mountain town in the summertime,” said Paula Damke.

Dampke lives in Ouray County, and like her neighbors, she’s seeing visitors come in who aren’t familiar with Colorado’s terrain.

According to Damke, they’ll take Jeeps and ATVs into the mountains to explore, not realizing — or ignoring — the rules.

“What they’re doing is illegal. You can’t go anywhere where you’re going to damage the tundra. And they don’t seem to understand that,” Damke said.

Damke is also a member of “The Jeeps of San Juans” Facebook group. Several people have put up posts echoing the issue.

“My wife and I went up to Clear Lake outside of Silverton this weekend. I’ve been going to this area for over 30 years. NEVER have I seen anything like what I saw this weekend. People camping in the tundra meadows, trampled hillsides where the good wildflowers are, and tire tracks literally through the fields of wildflowers. Sad and disheartened is how we felt when we left,” Tony Litschewski wrote on Facebook.

The Jeeps of San Juans Facebook page provided the following post with some helpful tips for visitors.

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