Several Vail Valley trails closing to aid local wildlife
MINTURN — Several trails on the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest will be closed for the winter season starting Saturday to minimize disturbance to wildlife. The following trails will be closed to all human entry, including skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, hiking and any other mode of winter travel:
- Everkrisp Trail #2122: Closed Saturday to June 20
- Whiskey Creek #2348: Closed Saturday to June 20
- Eastern Hillside #2347: Closed Dec. 1 to June 20
- Knob Hill Trail #2021: Closed Dec. 15 to April 15
Winter is a critical time for deer and elk populations in the valley. Areas where these trails are located are prime habitat for these species and are essential for their survival. Animals are further stressed from human use in these areas, often using up important energy reserves fleeing from humans and dogs.
The Forest Service last winter documented 127 people and/or dogs on the June Creek side of the Knob Hill Trail, and 58 individual deer over the course of the winter closure. Monitoring showed more favorable results on the Singletree side, with only 21 people on the trail during the closure and 272 deer. Hiking and snowshoeing were the primary forms of recreation observed on closed trails.
“In our monitoring, we’re seeing deer and/or elk use these seasonally closed trails. However, we’re still seeing high human activity during closures in certain areas. Please respect the areas these animals need to survive during winter, and turn around when you arrive at a closed gate on any of these seasonally-closed trails,” acting district ranger Marcia Gilles said in a news release. “Remember, deer and elk need these areas to survive, you can go elsewhere to recreate.”
For more information about Forest Service trails and recreation opportunities, call the Eagle-Holy Cross Office, 970-827-5715, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or go to: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/whiteriver/recreation.
For information about other seasonal trail closures, open trails, and current trail conditions in the Eagle Valley, go to https://www.vvmta.org/trail-closures/.
Vail Valley Mountain Trail Alliance, together with the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District, manages a volunteer Trail Ambassador Program. Ambassadors spend time at the closure gates during both winter and spring closure seasons to help forest visitors understand the reasons behind trail wildlife closures. Go to VVMTA’s website, http://www.vvmta.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to become a trail ambassador.
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