Boulder City Council is thinking of enforcing new fees on non-residents using Boulder hiking areas. They are focusing on the Marshall Mesa Trails and Flatiron Vista Trail. (CU Independent file/Scott Franz)
Boulder City Council is contemplating charging non-residents for use of certain hiking trails, said Boulder City Councilwoman Lisa Morzel.
Morzel said the fees are only a consideration at this point and would target the Flatirons Vista Trail and Marshall Mesa Trail.
“It’s only a discussion; no formal proposal has been made,” Morzel said. “The discussion topic targets two trail heads in southern Boulder County that are frequented by several people outside Boulder County.”
She explained the council’s interest in the matter.
“There is a common agreement among the council and open space trustees that there is an inequity between heavy users from outside Boulder County versus those people who pay for the open space system by living or visiting here,” Morzel said.
Nicole Savarese, a 20-year-old junior psychology major and Boulder County resident, voiced her opinion on hiking trail charges.
“I’ve lived in Boulder my whole life and have loved growing up in a friendly and hospitable city,” Savarese said. “I think that’s very rare and special these days. To charge residents for access to open-space seems like the complete opposite gesture that Boulder is known for.”
Morzel explained the hiking charge consideration has resulted from the small amount of funding that can be allocated towards the trails.
“We have a budget to maintain,” Morzel said. “We have a small amount to maintain these trails, which comes from a general fund. They cost money and people should pay into it.”
Many factors need to be taken into consideration before a proposal is made, Morzel said.
“Enforcement still needs to be discussed,” Morzel said. “While license plates used to be adequate, that is not longer the case. Some places use an honor system.”
Max Stroup, a 19-year-old freshman open-option major, said he does not support hiking charges.
“Charging people to walk on hiking trails is ridiculous,” Stroup said. “Some things in life should still be free.”
Savarese said she thinks hiking fees may discourage some people from visiting Boulder.
“People that travel from Denver and other places are great customer candidates,” Savarese said. “People buy food, souvenirs and gas when they visit. If we charge for the one free thing, there’s less incentive for these people to come at all.”
Morzel said fees would be allocated towards keeping trails in good shape.
“We’re trying to make sure our trails are state of the art and well maintained,” Morzel said. “It’s great if people visit Boulder and we welcome them with open arms. All we’re talking about is monitoring these two trails, that many people use and then don’t visit Boulder.
Stroup, who said he is not a Boulder County resident, said he doesn’t think CU students should be charged for the use of hiking trails.
“CU has a lot of out-of-state students, including me,” Stroup said. “We obviously spend money in Boulder. I definitely don’t think it makes sense to charge students.”
Some people have become angered by the possibility of fees being implemented, Morzel said.
She said other ideas for funding the maintenance of trails are welcome.
“This whole idea that this going to be something that’s happening is just an idea,” Morzel said. “If people have better solutions, they are welcome to voice them.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kendall Schoemann at Kendall.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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