Once a hidden gem amongst the many scenic treasures of the Upper Crystal Valley, the Lead King Loop has exploded in popularity with recreationalists of all stripes in recent years. While hikers, cyclists, snowshoers and skiers continue to explore the loop in non-motorized ways, traffic from off highway vehicles has dramatically increased, bringing with it unwanted impacts on residents, wildlife and vegetation, and taking from many the opportunity for a peaceful experience with nature and an increasingly rare quality of life.
While residents of Crystal share the increase in noise, dust, sanitation and safety concerns with their neighbors in Marble, it is that tiny town which has become the gateway to the loop and as such, has had to confront the onslaught of issues that have come as a result of unmanaged travel.
In 2018, Gunnison County Commissioners tasked the Marble Board of Trustees to form a working group to begin laying the groundwork to develop a recreation management plan for the LKL. Members of the group include representatives from the White River National Forest Service, Gunnison County, Western Colorado University, Marble, Crystal, and CVEPA.
Currently led by Ron Leach, Town Administrator, and Corrine Truesdell, Masters candidate in Environmental Management at Western Colorado University, the group is trying to find enforceable ways to mitigate impacts while assisting the Forest Service in gathering data of loop users, a required, multi-year process in developing recreation management plans on FS roads.
While many support the goals of the working group, others in the community believe change should happen more quickly through County action. Alex Menard, head of the Marble History Museum, is one of the proponents for immediate change.
Read the Convening Report that Describes Recent Working Group Activities - Complied by Corrine Truesdell
Residents of Marble and Crystal say 13-mile Lead King Loop is being loved to death - Aspen Journalism article by Heather Sackett