Backcountry Skiing PROHIBITED & “Locals Only” Mandate In San Juan County, CO ( Silverton)

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Backcountry skiing is not current permitted in San Juan County, CO.

San Juan County, Colorado (Silverton) is the first location in the USA to ban backcountry skiing and all forms of backcountry recreation, as far as we understand.

“The San Juan County Sheriff’s Department is prohibiting recreationalists from backcountry activities in the County due to the limited Medical, Emergency and Search and Rescue Services available currently due to the Coronavirus COVID 19 crisis.”

– San Juan County, CO Sheriff’s Department, 3/21/20

image: Chris P

San Juan County has also put in place a “Locals Only” mandate that prohibits persons who reside outside San Juan county from entering San Juan county excepting essential services.

“…The San Juan County Sheriff is implementing a “Locals Only” policy, prohibiting all but essential services, HWY 550 drive through traffic, and San Juan County residents only.  This will apply to all San Juan County lands, as backcountry skiers and snowmobilers unnecessarily increase the potential for emergency and medical team response. Vehicles parked on the passes and all San Juan County roads not registered in San Juan County Colorado are subject to fines and towing.”

– San Juan County, CO Sheriff Bruce Conrad, 3/21/20

Red = San Juan County, CO
Map showing San Juan County, CO.

These measures above were taken due to the enormous amount of humans who came up to the mountains to recreate this weekend in Colorado who were not using “social distancing” nor being cognizant of our current Coronavirus pandemic.

See video below of Loveland Pass, CO yesterday with around 1,000 humans parking all over and being quite close to each other.

Ski resorts have been closed in Colorado since Governor Polis issued an executive order to close them on March 14th which is causing a surge in backcountry skiing and riding.

 San Juan County, Colorado Press Release

on “No Backcountry Skiing”

SAN JUAN COUNTY, 3/21/20:

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Department issues a stern warning to all backcountry recreation users. The San Juan County Sheriff’s Department is prohibiting recreationalists from backcountry activities in the County due to the limited Medical, Emergency and Search and Rescue Services available currently due to the Coronavirus COVID 19 crisis.
The SJC Sheriff has also issued a policy/order prohibiting all but essential services in San Juan County. US HWY 550 is open to DRIVE THROUGH traffic and San Juan County residents only. Vehicles parked on the passes, and on County roads not registered in San Juan County Colorado are subject to fines and towing. This applies to all San Juan County Colorado lands and County roads, as backcountry skiers and snowmobilers unnecessarily increase the potential for emergency and medical team response.

On Wednesday March 18th, San Juan County and the Town of Silverton declared a Local Disaster Emergency Declaration due to the spread of COVID 19 in the State of Colorado.

With the limited population size of San Juan County and our geographic isolation Medical, Emergency and Search and Rescue resources could easily be overwhelmed. San Juan County is being proactive in the Local Disaster Emergency Declaration and the San Juan County Public Health Order due to the current state of limited Medical and Emergency Resources.

Public Health experts anticipate that due to the highly contagious nature of the COVID 19 virus and the high travel of international and local travelers through San Juan County daily, San Juan County could see positive cases of the virus. In recent days, neighboring jurisdictions, San Miguel County and Hinsdale County have both documented their first local COVID 19 positive cases.

COVID 19 is a highly contagious virus that originated in China and has spread to numerous countries around the world including the United States and here in Southwest Colorado. On March 11, 2020 the Governor of the State of Colorado Jared Polis declared a State of Emergency for the State of Colorado and on March 13, 2020 the President of the United States Donald Trump declared a National Emergency for the United States of America as a whole.
Colorado State Highway 550 remains open to through traffic.

Check out sanjuancolorado.us to read the San Juan County Local Emergency Declaration and the Public Health Order in its entirety. An updated and revised PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER will be amended on Monday 3/23/20.

San Juan County, Colorado Press Release

on “Locals Only”

03/21/2020 Statement from the San Juan County Colorado Sheriff Bruce Conrad

Our community is geographically unique, allowing us an opportunity to experience less of the tragedy associated with Covid-19. Minimizing our exposure to the greater world, as well as practicing sensible limitations on our own interactions is the key to this outcome. At the same time, we have the potential to be very hard hit should this virus be transmitted throughout San Juan County and Silverton in the manner common illnesses tend to.


With these thoughts in mind, The San Juan County Sheriff is implementing a “Locals Only” policy, prohibiting all but essential services, HWY 550 drive through traffic, and San Juan County residents only. This will apply to all San Juan County lands, as backcountry skiers and snowmobilers unnecessarily increase the potential for emergency and medical team response. Vehicles parked on the passes and all San Juan County roads not registered in San Juan County Colorado are subject to fines and towing.


These are not extreme measures in these extraordinary times, and we are not the first community to enact them. It is not a cavalier decision made without regard for our economy or for the well-being of our citizens. It is in fact, our well-being at stake here.
San Juan County residents are being asked to self-quarantine, traveling around town and beyond should be limited to obtaining necessities, and solo or small party exercise outings. We have many resources in place for assisting locals in need and we will continue to be successful if we can minimize the impacts of the COVID 19 crisis.


This situation will be constantly assessed and evaluated with the goal of returning to normal operations and normal life as soon as safely possible. In the meantime, we are tough mountain folk. With good practices and care for each other, we will get through this better than most.
Sincerely,

San Juan County Sheriff Bruce Conrad


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2 thoughts on “Backcountry Skiing PROHIBITED & “Locals Only” Mandate In San Juan County, CO ( Silverton)

  1. This violates the the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, specifically “nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.

    If the law was uniform and stated that there will be no parking on 550. It would be legal.

    I’m not violating it, but I hope someone does and appeals the hell out of it.

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