Burnt Mountain trails to close for elk calving habitat

Staff report
The closure sign and gate will remain up at Sky Mountain Park until after May 15.
Jeremy Wallace/courtesy photo

Snowmass Village animal services, Aspen Skiing Co., White River National Forest and Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced the following annual closures from Two Creeks to West Buttermilk for elk calving:

• Tom Blake Trail: Closed today to June 21

• Anaerobic Nightmare Trail, Sequel: Closed today to June 21

• Government Trail: Closed May 15 to June 21

May and June is the primary elk calving season. The closed area protects a specific habitat that elk chose each year for calving due to abundance of water, food sources and seclusion.

“We are lucky enough to have a wildlife presence in our own backyard that rivals national parks,” Laurie Smith, Snowmass Village animal services officer, said in a statement. “Protecting these species is so important that all four entities that manage our integrated trail system are working together to improve trail signage and public information on the seasonal closures.”

Wildlife monitoring cameras in 2017 revealed multiple closure violations by trail users, according to a statement from the town of Snowmass Village.

All violators were identified and cited. Stress and disturbance from humans can lead to abandonment of this critical habitat. Cow elk are recovering from winter and need to forage and nurse without disruption.

“It’s up to all of us — mountain bikers, hikers, or dog walkers — to respect these constraints to allow our local wildlife population to thrive,” Smith said.

The public is advised to honor closure gates and signs. Violators will be fined between $50 and $5,000.

For those who are eager to get out on trails, open areas this spring include:

• Highline/Lowline Trails

• South Rim Trail

• Ditch Trail and West Government Trail

• Sam’s Knob, Alpine Springs and Elk Camp work roads

The North Rim Trail and Sky Mountain Park also are slated to open after May 15.