More plantings first step on bike trail
Aspen, CO Colorado
PITKIN COUNTY ” It looks as though it will be hedges for the herons for now, but there may yet be changes to the seasonal closure dates of the Rio Grande Trail between Rock Bottom Ranch and the Catherine Store Road bridge.
Users of the embattled, 400-meter portion of the popular downvalley bike trail may notice a few more trees and a hedge of river hawthorn and chokecherry springing up along the trail this summer.
The plantings are part of a broad effort to bring great blue herons back to a “heronry” they have occupied since the 1970s, but abandoned in early May. The additional landscaping will help shield the trail from the nesting area.
But other decisions regarding the trail as it passes close to the now-vacant heron nests will wait until next fall, after a special commission has had time to investigate the matter and make recommendations to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board, which oversees the trail.
The RFTA board of directors talked about the trail vs. herons issue for about two hours on Thursday, in response to claims by adjacent landowners that the opening of the trail to bicyclists and others on May 1 caused the herons to decamp from their nests.
Approximately 25 people attended the meeting, many of whom spoke either in favor of increases to trail closure times or in favor of increased human use and even a reduced period when the trail is closed to use.
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The Roaring Fork Valley has, by-and-large, avoided the mountain pine beetle and spruce beetle infestations that have decimated parts of the state. However, a 2019 aerial survey showed the Roaring Fork watershed has an outbreak of Douglas-fir and western balsam beetles.