Recently gates and gate locks on National Forest Roads on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest have been damaged or removed.

Many roads remain closed on the district for a number of reasons, including seasonal closures, resource concerns, project work and safety. Two roads closed due to the September 2013 Flood, Kelly Flats and 7-Mile had gates severely damaged. This requires the Forest Service to re-sign the area for safety and hire a contractor to reinstall gates. This wastes resources that could be accomplishing other vital work.

Locks on closed roads have also been cut or shot off, including one at Chicken Park. Following that, damage was done to the road impacting future users.

Forest visitors are reminded that roads are closed for a number of reasons, especially this time of year and following the flood. Road work will be taking place throughout the year to get more areas open to the public, but the more work that has to be done related to this vandalism the less work can be done in other areas.

This vandalism is also a crime. If you have information regarding this or other vandalism on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District, please contact the district office at 970-295-6700. Someone found removing a lock or damaging a gate could face a $525 fine up to a $5,000 fine and six months in jail and a mandatory Federal Magistrate Court appearance, along with the cost associated with repairs. Parking in front of closed gates is also illegal and could impede emergency response.

Just because a gate is open, doesn’t mean the road is – like in the Chicken Park example. It is each visitor’s responsibility to be aware of closures. To check the latest information on road status, please check www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/roads or call visitor information at 970-295-6700. Information about closures specifically in the flood area can also be found online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/floodrecovery.

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