Avalanche Creek closures in effect | AspenTimes.com

Avalanche Creek closures in effect

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” The Avalanche Creek area south of Carbondale is once again closed to some uses to protect the area’s bighorn sheep herd.

The annual closure, in effect from Nov. 15 to May 1, means Forest Service Road 310 in Avalanche Creek is closed to vehicles and the area north of Road 310 is closed to people. The entire area is closed to dogs.

The area’s low elevation, light snowpack and winter forage make it key winter habitat for bighorn sheep, according to Phil Nyland, Forest Service wildlife biologist with the Aspen-Sopris District.

“The seasonal closure is designed to provide a refuge for bighorn sheep during this critical period,” he said.

While the area is a popular place for snowshoe and cross-country ski use, the public is being asked to comply with the closure to keep from disturbing the sheep. The area is jointly patrolled by the Forest Service and state Division of Wildlife.

“Research shows that even what appear to be small reactions by sheep to people, traffic, and dogs cause impacts over a period of months in terms of raised stress levels, increased metabolism and decreased food intake,” Nyland said.

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People who comply with the order and stay on Avalanche Creek Road (Road 310) may catch a glimpse of the bighorn sheep. Also, Filoha Meadows along Highway 133, south of Carbondale near Redstone, and the area north of Thompson Creek are places where the sheep may be seen.

People visiting the Avalanche Creek area will be in compliance with the closure so long as they remain on the road and on foot, and leave their dogs at home, Nyland said. The road ends at the far end of the Avalanche Creek Campground. The Avalanche Creek Trail, beyond the campground, is open to winter use, he said.