Report recommends no Metcalf drainage trails
July 29, 2016
AVON — When the idea for more hiking and mountain biking trails in town was proposed on June 15, the community reacted with concern for wildlife.
Local Dave Petrowski said the Metcalf drainage area, above the hairpin turn on Metcalf Road, is a common area for deer to give birth.
"I love the trails, I mountain bike," he said. "But what mountain biker wants to go through an area with a bunch of houses?"
Petrowski said homeowners in the area, such as himself, have pushed the deer out of their natural habitat and into their yards by developing the area. The new trails system proposed for the Upper Metcalf area which was unveiled on June 15 would connect into the existing trails system on the West Avon Preserve, below the Upper Metcalf area, which was mostly built in 2014.
"At first I had three deer in my yard, now I have 10, 15," Petrowski said. "We pushed deer out of the area where they were living, and now they live in the community."
A downhill trail similar to the nearby Lee's Way Down trail was proposed for the Metcalf drainage area.
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Jim Benson, a 23-year-Wildridge resident, says deer drink water on his property all the time near Bear Trap and Wildridge roads.
"It's a big migration corridor right through there," he said.
STUDY: NO METCALF DRAINAGE TRAILS
Trails have been developed in other areas in Eagle County which are important to wildlife habitats, using seasonal restrictions to strike a balance between man and beast.
On Vail Mountain, the trails on the Back Bowls are closed every year from May 6 to July 1 for elk calving and migration. The North Trail system in Vail is closed from April 15 to June 15 every year, as well.
At the June 15 presentation of Avon's new trails plan, Bill Hoblitzell with the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association suggested seasonal closures could be a solution in Avon.
"Talk to biologists," he said.
The town did indeed talk to biologists with the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Division, who released a study of the area this week, recommending that no trails are developed in the Metcalf drainage area, which they refer to as Metcalf Creek.
"Metcalf Creek provides a significant block of intact wildlife habitat and a corridor from within the town out to the United States Forest Service boundary that allows wildlife to utilize this drainage without having to cross roads or developed home sites," the report reads. "Developing the proposed trails within the Metcalf Creek drainage would negatively impact wildlife habitat and the ability of wildlife to use it as a movement corridor."
Avon's trails steering committee will now use the Colorado Parks and Wildlife study to complete its trails plan update.
Matt Pielsticker with the town of Avon said the update will then be made available for the public's review in preparation for the Avon Planning and Zoning Commission meeting now scheduled for Aug. 16. Public comment is welcome at the meeting.
In the mean time, several walking tours of the proposed trails have been scheduled, one for today starting at noon. There was a Wednesday deadline to RSVP but interested parties can park at the Wildwood bus stop on Metcalf Road and along the road shoulder if they are curious about the trail. Two tours of the Wildridge Connector Trail are scheduled for Monday, one for noon and one for 5:30 p.m. Park at the intersection of Wildridge Road and Bear Trap Road in a gravel pull-off area.