The Western Colorado University (WCU) Master in Environmental Management (MEM) Program has conducted a Data Collection Initiative (DCI) in the upper Gunnison Valley. The purpose of the DCI is to collect winter user data at various trailheads so land management agencies and others have valid data to assist in the decision making process. A pilot program was completed in winter 2016-17 with limited data collected in the Slate River drainage. The pilot project was conducted by Brian Lieberman as part of his Master’s thesis. He also conducted an online survey that had 313 participants.
The Winter 2017/2018 effort was led by WCU graduate student Douglas Shaw with research supervision provided by Professor Melanie Armstrong. Infrared motion detector cameras were utilized to collect data at six drainages near Crested Butte, Colorado. Camera data was downloaded periodically and users were counted in one direction only. On site observations were also conducted to verify the data.
The monitoring periods varied at each trailhead. The total number of users recorded for the duration of the respective observation periods 24,413 recreationists. The largest user group (collectively) was “non-motorized” users (approximately 71%). The data is summarized in the table below, “Compiled Trailhead Use Data”.
The Winter 2018/2019 effort will be led by WCU MEM graduate student, Kendall Cox. Her thesis emphasis will include data collection and in-depth data analysis utilizing multiple years of data.
To date, funding has been provided by $2,500 grants from Town of Crested Butte (2018) and the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley (CFGV)(2017). Silent Tracks has provided matching funds totaling $4000. Funding is ongoing.
Please Donate for Data and help the DCI meet its annual $10,000 project goal. All donations are tax deductible and will be used exclusively to fund this effort! Thanks for your support!
Doug and Brian’s reports can be found on the right, under “Documents and Resources”.