Matt Zumstein, Norwood District Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, said Norwood is seeing increased traffic due to hunting season. The fall season typically attracts hunters from throughout the Midwest and the southern United States.
“You’ll see license plates from everywhere,” he said. “There are lots of people camping too, and Norwood feels busier with the hotels filled.”
Zumstein said he agreed the traffic was good for the town, especially from the Norwood Chamber of Commerce’s standpoint.
Additionally, hunters are typically very good visitors to attract to the town, he said. According to him, they don’t make a mess and they care about their environment.
“I think, for the most part, people want to do the right thing,” he said. “Hunters are really good about taking care of the land, and basically their sport depends on the health of the ecosystem.”
Zumstein said hunters know that the destruction of a habitat can mean less animals. Because of this, hunters usually act as good stewards of the U.S. Forest Service. He said their interests naturally seem to be aligned with the ideas of “leaving a light footprint” or “leaving no trace.”
As a whole, the hunting groups are mostly compliant in following all of the rules, he said.
Still, he said there are a few things to remember — principles that apply to hunters at this time, but to everyone who uses public lands.
Zumstein said he reminds the public to not leave unattended campfires and to make sure they are all of the way out before departing a campsite.
He said campers must pack out everything that they brought into a campsite, and this means garbage.
All traveling on U.S. Forest Service roads should stay on designated routes and trails for motorized travel. Zumstein said if the roads don’t have a sign, they are not open. At the Norwood Ranger District’s office, the Motor Vehicle Use Map is available and free for the public. It’s also posted on the district’s website.
He also said it’s important for all, whether hunting or not, to slow down on Forest Service roads. He said many people are sharing the roads right now — cattlemen, hunters, loggers and county employees — and it’s important to pay attention.
“With all of the people, it’s a lot of traffic on the road system,” he said. “I hope people travel at reasonable speeds. There is logging on some roads, and the county is out there finishing a project with dozers and graders. It can be a safety concern. So, we encourage sharing the roads and driving at safe speeds.”
He said for other information, all are welcome stop by the district’s office for the visitor center and bookstore (located at 1150 Forest St. in Norwood) or to call the office directly at 970-327-4261.
“We have hunting maps, guide books and other items for sale in partnership with the San Juan Mountain Association,” he said.
Woods Lake Campground, Zumstein said, will remain open during hunting season and is available to use free of charge. However, the water system there has been shut down for the winter.