Adopt a Trail Ambassador program seeks volunteers to build public awareness about wildlife | VailDaily.com

Adopt a Trail Ambassador program seeks volunteers to build public awareness about wildlife

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MINTURN — The Forest Service needs help monitoring seasonal trail closures and raising awareness among the community about wildlife. In partnership with the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association, the Adopt a Trail Wildlife Ambassador program will kick off its second season beginning in November. This cohort of volunteers helps the Forest Service to staff various trailheads with critical seasonal wildlife closures to inform the public about the importance of undisturbed winter habitat for wildlife.

"We are grateful for our volunteers last year who helped raise awareness about wildlife in our valley. We are excited to continue the program this year with our partners," said Rick Truex, acting district ranger. "It takes an entire community to help protect our wildlife during the harsh winter months. Please do your part and respect the trail closures this winter."

Winter is a critical time for deer and elk. Food resources can be scarce, and cold temperatures can stress wildlife. Disturbance by humans and dogs often causes deer, elk and other wildlife to flee and unnecessarily use energy. This can impact their ability to survive over winter and successfully reproduce and raise their young.

Last spring, the Forest Service wildlife crew documented 44 people and two dogs violating the seasonal closure on the North Trail. The main type of recreation observed during the trail closure was hiking and trail running.

The following trails will close for winter:

• Everkrisp Trail No. 2122: Closed through June 20

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• Whiskey Creek No. 2348: Closed Nov. 23 to June 20

• Eastern Hillside No. 2347: Closed Dec. 1 to June 20

• Knob Hill Trail No. 2021: Closed Dec. 15 to April 15

Contact Michelle Wolffe, Adopt A Trail coordinator, at ecadoptatrail@gmail.com if you are interested in becoming a Wildlife Ambassador. For more information about Forest Service trails and recreation opportunities, contact the Eagle-Holy Cross Office at 970-827-5715 or stop by during business hours, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.