The tiny town of Marble is used to being woken up from its winter slumber by throngs of tourists in the late spring, but not this Memorial Day weekend.
The community’s leaders are asking would-be visitors to respect both the state’s “safe at home” order requiring Coloradans to recreate with 10 miles of their residences, as well as Gunnison County’s public health order summary stating “although this order will allow Coloradans from other counties to visit Gunnison County to recreate starting on May 27, they will not be allowed to do so if the Colorado governor continues to impose restrictions on recreational travel.”
In other words, for the next week, Marble — a 56-mile drive from Aspen by way of state highways 82 and 133 — will remain closed to people who live 10 miles or more outside of the town until public health orders move into the next phase as scheduled the last week of May.
“The town of Marble faces an onslaught of recreational visitors, ATV users, motorcyclists, hikers, Jeep tours — I can go on and on — and it overwhelms the community,” Ron Leach said Wednesday.
Leach is Marble’s town administrator and retired as chief of Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District in 2018.
“The Town Council in Marble is very conservative in their approach to the COVID situation, and given the fact that we don’t have a law enforcement presence, all we can do is get the message out and ask for voluntary compliance,” he said, “and we would appreciate it if out-of-county visitors refrain from coming to Marble during the Gunnison County health orders.”
The town sent word to local media May 15 that its trustees were aiming to “slow the flow” into Marble by closing public services. And over the weekend, Gunnison County sheriff’s deputies were monitoring Beaver Lake, popular with outdoors types ranging from anglers to stand-up paddleboarders.
“The Gunnison County sheriff was advising visitors on the lake of the rules,” Leach said. “And most people were not aware of those rules.”
Authorities also will have a presence in Marble this holiday weekend, the town said Thursday in an update.
“Gunnison County Sheriff’s Department personnel have been dispatched to the Upper Crystal River area on recent weekends, advising visitors who are not from Gunnison County to leave Marble and the popular recreation spots surrounding it — Beaver Lake, the Lead King Loop jeep trail, and the many hiking trails around Marble,” the latest news release states. “Law enforcement presence will continue in Marble through the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.”
The 2010 census reported Marble had population of 131 residents. Leach said that figure is roughly the same today. Town limits encompass two-fifths of a square mile.
Pitkin County’s Board of Health recommends that Pitkin residents can recreate in “associated valleys” of Crystal and Fryingpan so long as they use common sense during the pandemic. Yet that recommendation factors in just the Pitkin portion of those valleys, both of which cross lines into other jurisdictions — the Crystal into Gunnison County and the Fryingpan into Eagle County.
The Pitkin County board reasoned that Polis’s order was more aimed at Front Rangers seeking a getaway to the mountains.
Gunnison County’s most recent health order, delivered May 13, eased up on second-home owner restrictions, and Leach said non-resident homeowners are permitted in Marble.
A summary of the Gunnison order states: “Non-resident homeowners are no longer required to isolate and self-quarantine upon their arrival in Gunnison County (but are still encouraged to do so) unless they test positive for COVID-19.”
In addition to Beaver Lake, other attractions in Marble include the historic Yule Marble quarry and Slow Groovin’ BBQ. The owner, Ryan Vinciguerra, also is the mayor of Marble.
The barbecue restaurant, essentially the only game in town when it comes to dining out, is open seasonally May 1 through Halloween.
“The summer is already small enough,” Vinciguerra said. “It’s a tough operating schedule when you’re just open in the summer, so it is challenging with the 10-mile rule. … If it stayed that way for the entire summer, that would be a doomsday scenario.”
Vinciguerra and Town Trustee Larry Good said the town is taking a united front on the 10-mile visitation rule, with Leach as the spokesman.
Good said town was quiet as usual during the wintertime, but it picked up a bit when family members had to return from college because of the pandemic.
“It’s been quiet,” he said, “and we’re looking forward to when it can ramp up,” he said.
Originally posted in The Aspen Times by Rick Carroll on May 22, 2020.