Seasonal closures in effect for elk calving | AspenTimes.com

Seasonal closures in effect for elk calving

Staff report
A concealed camera on lower slopes of Burnt Mountain produced this image of an elk calve traveling with two cows in the spring of 2014. Wildlife experts say a spring trail closure is vital to give the animals the solitude they need at a critical time.
Courtesy photo | Courtesy photo

The White River National Forest, Snowmass Village Animal Services, Aspen Skiing Co., and Colorado Parks and Wildlife remind the public to be aware of the annual closure of the Two Creeks to West Buttermilk area to protect critical elk calving habitat.

Cow elk recovering from winter have high energy demands. Elk have chosen to return to the Two Creeks-West Buttermilk area every year because the area offers the water, food and seclusion they need to forage and nurse without being startled or disrupted.

“Stress and disturbance by humans could lead elk to abandon this critical habitat or to abandon elk calves,” said White River National Forest Biologist Phil Nyland. This closure protects critical habitat during the primary calving season in May and June.

These trails are closed until June 21:

• Tom Blake Trail

• Anaerobic Nightmare Trail, Sequel

• Government Trail No. 1980

Kurtis Tesch of Colorado Parks and Wildlife also emphasizes the need for habitat protection: “Overall deer and elk numbers in the Roaring Fork Valley and surrounding areas are down and have been showing a steady decline over the last several years. This decline can be linked to the use, and sometimes abuse, of recreation in and around vital habitat areas. We can’t continue to abuse these critical areas, fragment already diminished habitat and apply added stress to these already struggling animals. It is imperative that people respect these closures.”

Wildlife monitoring cameras have shown hikers and cyclists recreating in the closed area. Please be advised that those violating the closure will be fined. Fines can range from $50 to a maximum of $5,000. This video, with footage from wildlife monitoring cameras, illustrates the importance of the closure: https://youtu.be/J8GMnXhKpyU.

“We are lucky to have a variety of wildlife on our National Forest and surrounding Snowmass Village that rivals many National Parks,” said Laurie Smith, Snowmass Village Animal Services officer. “Protecting these species is important to all entities, and we are working together to improve trail signage and public information on the seasonal closures in this area.”

Many trails remain open. Suggested alternatives during the closure include the Highline/Lowline trails, South and North Rim trails, Sky Mountain Park, Sam’s Knob, Alpine Springs, Ditch Trail, West Government Trail and Elk Camp work roads. For other trail suggestions or more information on seasonal closures, contact the Sopris Ranger District at 970-963-2266.


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