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Is Instagram killing the environment? Colorado's picturesque places being overrun

Posted at 10:21 PM, Nov 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-15 00:38:37-05

DENVER -- Our obsession with social media could be ruining the environment. All those insta-worthy locations around Colorado, and in other states too, are feeling the effects of people flocking for that photo.

Denver7 spoke to Colorado Parks and Wildlife about the problems they're seeing.

Rebecca Ferrell with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife says it all adds up, when person after person heads to that photo-worthy destination.

"I'm just one person. How much damage could I be doing if I want to get that one photo or that great opportunity?" said Ferrell.

Problems arise when people go off trail to get that shot, trampling on endangered plant species or putting graffiti on the landscape.

"There are definitely habitat issues for wildlife -- if people want to get too close to elk, for example, in Estes Park or Rocky Mountain National Park," said Ferrell.

There's even a guy on Instagram whose account shames people caught in the act. One of his many photos, a commercial photo shoot at Hanging Lake, had also attracted a ton of media attention. No swimming is allowed at the lake, and signs are visible.

But worst of all could be the trash and cleanup left behind by all the thousands of visitors.

"Things like human waste, dog waste collect because there just isn't a plan or outhouses or things like that are available," said Ferrell.

Conundrum Hot Springs outside of Aspen had to shut down just so park rangers could shovel it all out.

So for now a warning:

"100-percent: Enjoy the parks and the scenery that we have available, but do it in a smart way. We have trails that are specifically marked, we ask people to stay on those," said Ferrell.

For more information about the Colorado Parks and Wildlife rules and regulations click here.

To read more about the national organization Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics click here.