Avalanche closure aids bighorn sheep | AspenTimes.com

Avalanche closure aids bighorn sheep

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The U.S. Forest Service is alerting people that the Avalanche Creek area in the Crystal River Valley will be closed for the winter starting Monday.

The annual closure is designed to reduce disturbances and stress on bighorn sheep while they are in winter range. The closure is on the advice of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The Avalanche Creek area, about nine miles south of Carbondale, is accessed by Forest Service Road 310. It is a popular place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The road is closed to vehicles during the winter closure. The area north of the road is closed to humans, and the entire area is closed to dogs. The closure is in effect from Nov. 15 to May 1. However, the road is open during the fourth big game season to allow hunter access.

“Avalanche Creek provides critical winter habitat for bighorn sheep,” said Phil Nyland, wildlife biologist for the Aspen and Sopris ranger districts. “The low-elevation, light-snowpack terrain that facilitates quick escape and presence of winter forage are key elements of bighorn sheep winter habitat. The seasonal closure is designed to provide a refuge for bighorn sheep during this critical period.”