Think smart about Carbondale-to-Crested Butte bike path | AspenTimes.com

Think smart about Carbondale-to-Crested Butte bike path

In regards to the Carbondale-to-Crested Butte bike path proposal, there are suggestions that closing the trail in the winter might work to keep critical winter habitat safe for the elk, bighorn and other animals that depend on it for their survival.

It won't work, because right now, it doesn't work. I live across from Avalanche Creek, closed to dogs November to May. Virtually every week of last winter I found fresh dog prints up the closed road alongside human tracks. I spoke to three different parties with unleashed dogs beyond the gate, all from Roaring Fork Valley. When I asked one gentleman if he had read the posted signs ("Absolutely No Dogs," "Critical Winter Wildlife Habitat"), he laughed — "I don't read signs!"

A winter closure will never guarantee the safety of the elk and bighorn herds that depend on Filoha Meadows and the Crystal River valley bottom for their survival.

If Alternative B is chosen, there will be two new walking paths at Avalanche Creek winter closure gate. Violators can park out of sight of the highway, and walk unseen right into Filoha Meadows in a matter of minutes. No matter how stiff the fine, or how big the sign, all it will take is one person with an unleashed dog to scatter those herds for weeks, effectively destroying the value of that winter habitat.

Protect the slivers of wildlife habitat that are left, and keep the bike path along Highway 133 from Red Wind Point to Filoha Meadows. The wildlife biologists all agree on this. The long-term costs of trying to police humans on closed winter trails would be better spent on building a smart bike path, using Alternative B where wildlife are not threatened, and Alternative A where needed (Red Wind Point, Janeway, Avalanche, Narrows, Filoha segments, at the very least). A bonus for using Alternative A is that you'd be able to pedal from Carbondale to Penny Hot Springs. Using Alternative B, you'd be on the wrong side of the river! Special thanks to local government folks who are earnestly listening to all concerns. Comment at http://www.pitkinostprojects.com by Nov. 15.

Diane Madigan

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