News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Division of Wildlife are asking that Roaring Fork Valley residents respect the closure of some public lands as part of their effort to protect wildlife through the winter.The Forest Service has banned dogs and restricted recreation in the Avalanche Creek area, nine miles south of Carbondale. The seasonal closure has been in effect since 1993 to protect bighorn sheep that range there during the coldest months of the year.The road into that valley is closed from Nov. 15 until May 1. The area north of the forest road is closed to humans, and the entire area is closed to dogs.”The low elevation, light snowpack and presence of winter forage in areas like Avalanche Creek are what bighorn sheep need during this critical period,” said Phil Nyland, a wildlife biologist with the forest’s Aspen-Sopris District.People, traffic and dogs can disturb sheep that are resting to conserve energy or feeding to maintain body condition.”Research shows that even what appear to be small reactions by sheep to these things can impact them over a period of months in terms of raised stress levels, increased metabolism and decreased food intake,” Nyland said.The Forest Service usually catches several people a year in violation of the closures, and Nyland suspects the agency would catch many more with constant patrols of the area.Meanwhile, the state wildlife division’s seasonal closure is in effect at the Basalt State Wildlife Area from Dec. 1 to July 15. All activity is prohibited in the Basalt, Christine, Toner, Peachblow, Seven Castles and Schuck units. The closure doesn’t apply to Lake Christine or the shooting range.”The winter months in Colorado can be extremely tough for wildlife,” said Perry Will, wildlife manager for the Glenwood Springs area. “Animals need to devote all of their energy during the winter to gathering scarce food supplies.” See http://www.aspentimes.com/backcountry for more on area backcountry opportunities.

The White River National Forest could soon allow a hut to be built near Jones Gulch, a mile and a half northeast of Vance’s Cabin, and close to Chicago Ridge and Tennessee Pass. The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association proposed the hut in March, and there were changes to the proposal during the summer to reduce the impact on lynx habitat and other resources.Hikers, snowshoers and horseback riders would use the hut. Huts are often fully booked during January, February and March, and the White River National Forest expects nordic skiing and snowshoeing activity to increase nearly 4 percent a year.Public comments are due by Friday. Send comments to Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District, White River National Forest, P.O. Box 720, Eagle, CO 81631, attn: Brian Lloyd, acting district ranger, or e-mail to comments-rocky-mountain-white-river-eastzone@fs.fed.us. E-mails should include a mailing address. (Vail Daily)

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