Biologist: Site for Eagle project not critical for wildlife
EAGLE, Colorado ” The wildlife biologist who authored a report calling for the preservation of the Brush Creek Valley as critical wildlife habitat is also weighing in on the Eagle River Station proposal.
His conclusion: The development parcel east of town is not now and never will be important wildlife habitat.
Jerry Powell of Wildlife Specialties of Lyons, Colo. recently compiled a report titled “Preserving the Town of Eagle’s Quality of Life by Protecting Wildlife Habitat in the Brush Creek Valley” for a local Eagle Valley Habitat for Wildlife group. In that report, Powell noted that the pastures and agricultural lands in the valley south of town are critical habitat for many wildlife species.
But he doesn’t offer the same verdict when it comes to agricultural lands divided by Interstate 70.
“Agricultural lands can be extremely important to wildlife, but it has to be in the correct setting,” said Powell, who was recently hired by the Eagle River Station developers.
He said the presence of I-70 means animals are in danger as they migrate around the area. In fact, deer and elk should be discouraged from using the area, he said.
Audience members didn’t question Powell’s credentials, but did question his conclusions.
“There’s not been a year I haven’t seen elk and wild animals on that property,” said 45-year resident Rick Evancho. “You can’t tell me that animals aren’t on there and it isn’t critical to the wildlife, because it is.”
Resident Jan Rosenthal-Townsend noted that using the word “critical” has particular connotations when applied to wildlife habitat. As such, maybe the Eagle River Station property isn’t critical habitat but it is important to wildlife.
“How can the animals not be impacted?” she asked.
“Elk are opportunistic animals. There are animals using that site, but the parcel isn’t critical to their survival,” Powell responded.
“Biologically speaking, there is no reason this development should not go forward,” he said.
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