Calling all volunteers! The Forest Service needs your help monitoring seasonal trail closures and talking to the public about the importance of these closures for wildlife. In partnership with the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance, the Adopt a Trail Wildlife Ambassador program will be kicking off its second year beginning April 15. The next volunteer training is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 10 at the Holy Cross Ranger Station in Minturn. Please take part to learn how you can become a Wildlife and Trails Ambassador.
Spring is a critical time for deer and elk populations in the valley. Deer and elk will follow historic pathways to stopover sites to reach their high-elevation summer range. Animals use this time to recover from the long winter and gain enough fat from the spring green up of grasses and flowering plants. Nutrient-rich spring forage is essential for females to successfully produce 1-2 young which they will seek to raise in seclusion. Studies have found that disturbance to cow elk and does during this time of year has led to lowered calf/fawn survival rates.
“Over the past two years, the Wildlife and Trails ambassadors have had a huge impact talking to the public about importance of these seasonal closures,” said Aaron Mayville, district ranger. “I would like to extend a big thank you to the ambassadors and to the community for the continued support of this program – please continue to do your part and choose one of the many open trails to recreate on this spring.”
The Wildlife and Trails Ambassador program has a proven success rate. Volunteers have come in contact with over 1,000 trail users since the program’s start in 2018. Last year, the Forest Service wildlife crew documented 44 people violating the spring closure on the North Trail over the course of 2 months, as compared to 2017, during which almost 200 people were documented on a closed trail in just 9 days. Hiking and trail running were the two main types of recreation observed during the closure.
Please do not use the following trails during the listed closure period. Gates and closure signs are located at all trail closure points.
- Knob Hill #2021: Closed currently – April 15
- Whiskey Creek #2348: Closed currently –June 20
- Eastern Hillside #2347: Closed currently – June 20
- North Trail #1896: April 15 – June 20
- Buffehr Creek #2111: April 15 – June 20
- Son of Middle Creek #2136: April 15 – June 20
- Paulie’s Plunge/Stone Creek #2349: May 15 – June 20
- Two Elk #2005 (from the west entrance at the second bridge to the east end at the Vail Bike Path): May 6 – June 30
For information about other seasonal trail closures, open trails, and current trail conditions in the Eagle Valley, please visit: https://www.vvmta.org/trail-closures// . Contact Michelle Wolffe, adopt-a-trail coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you're interested in becoming a Wildlife Ambassador and attending the training session. For more information about Forest Service trails and recreation opportunities, contact the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger Station at 970-827-5715, or stop by during business hours weekdays 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.