The Colorado Parks and Wildlife has asked the U.S. Forest Service to exclude mountain bikers from two trails in response to the pre- decisional Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan Environmental Assessment.
Specifically, the CPW is asking officials on the Columbine Ranger District to exclude mountain bikers from the Big Lick Trail, which has historically been open to mountain bikes.
Additionally, the CPW is asking that mountain bikes be excluded from the West Cross Creek Trail, in the event that the trail is cleared and becomes usable again.
CPW’s Trail Density Guideline
In general, the CPW recommends that the Forest Service closes twice as many miles of trail as it creates in the Hermosa Creek Watershed area.
“The north end of the SMA and the ski area has a high density of existing trails and roads. CPW is concerned that the inclusion of additional miles of trails will continue to further fragment and diminish the habitat effectiveness of this area. Therefore, CPW strongly supports the Hermosa Plan guideline that all new trail miles result in a reduction of existing trail miles at a 2:1 ratio,” said Matt Thorpe, a CPW Area Wildlife Manager. “This guideline applies to the SMA and includes trails within the ski area boundary and just outside of it.”
CPW Requests Seasonal Closures For Cyclists
While the Forest Service recommends a seasonal closure to motorized vehicles on the Hermosa Creek Trail, Jones Creek Trail, Dutch Creek Trail, and the Pinkerton Trail, the CPW is pushing for that closure to restrict bicycles, as well.
Dates included in the Forest Service-recommended seasonal closure for motorized vehicles are January 1 through April 30.
CPW suggests extending those closure dates to December 1 through April 30 and to also restrict mechanized travel.
“Elk were found to have a greater flight response from motorized and mechanized users than that for hikers and horseback riding (Wisdom et al. 2005),” Thorpe said in the letter. “CPW recommends extending the closure to include mechanized travel on these trails to minimize impacts to wintering big game.”
In other words, an elk that’s scared off by a mountain biker isn’t as likely to stick around for a hunter that wants to shoot it.
CPW: Ban Bikes On Big Lick Trail To Minimize User Conflicts
CPW supports the recommendation that the Big Lick Trail be restricted to non mechanized use only, Thorpe said in the letter.
Additionally, the CPW recommends limiting mechanized use of Upper Dutch/Pinkerton and Little Elk trails during the period of September 1- November 30 to reduce conflicts with hunters and outfitters, said Thorpe.
Submit Your Own Comments
To submit your own comments to the Forest Service regarding the pre-decisional Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan, email HermosaSMA@fs.fed.us by July 10th, 2017. Provide a signed letter, if possible. http://a123.g.akamai.net/…/nepa/97270_FSPLT3_3993304.pdf
To view the EA document and maps, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/
This blogger’s comments on the Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan Environmental Assessment: http://wp.me/p2Darv-2hP
Forest Service, Trails 2000, San Juan Citizens Alliance and San Juan Mountains Association obliterate illegal trail, live trees, near Hermosa: http://wp.me/p2Darv-2fH