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Animas City Mountain and other trails close Dec. 1

Winter wildlife closures will go into effect for popular trail systems near Durango
Closures for wildlife habitat will go into effect Dec. 1. The annual closures provide wildlife with undisturbed habitat during the winter before they return to the high country in summer. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

The Bureau of Land Management has announced annual winter wildlife closures that will go into effect on Dec. 1.

Trails in recreation areas near Durango including Animas City Mountain, Perins Peak and Grandview Ridge will be closed to hikers and cyclists, and certain roads will be closed to motor traffic.

Each year, state and federal agencies announce closures to protect wildlife – primarily big game – throughout the winter season. As snowfall pushes elk and mule deer into lower elevation range, CPW closes those areas to human travel.

“Forage isn't as high quality or nutrient-rich for wildlife during the winter months,” said CPW spokesman John Livingston. “Animals ... get pushed down onto what we call winter range, where they will congregate in larger numbers and where the conditions are a little bit more suitable for them to basically survive that winter.”

If recreationalists violate the closures, they can cause hoofed residents of the land to flee – an energy expenditure that they may not be able to afford.

“They're just burning unnecessary calories that are really essential for them surviving the winter,” Livingston said.

Anyone who violates the closures could be cited and fined $140. BLM, CPW and forest service law enforcement will patrol closed roads and may enter closed areas if they find evidence that someone has violated the closures, said BLM spokesman Eric Coulter.

Livingston said his agency issues 12 to 18 citations per year and the BLM issues roughly a dozen. A list of USFS road closures can be found on the San Juan National Forest website.

Some years, certain areas near Durango such as the upper parts of Animas City Mountain and Perins Peak Wildlife Area will be closed beyond the end of April to protect the endangered Peregrine Falcon, which nests in those areas.

The Bureau of Land Management has announced its annual slate of winter wildlife closures for trails near Durango and across the southwest region. (Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management)

The following trails are slated to close Dec. 1:

Grandview Ridge
  • Big Canyon and Sale Barn trailheads (access located east of U.S. Highway 160).
  • South Rim trail, portions of Sidewinder and Cowboy trails on BLM lands accessed from Carbon Junction trail or Crites connect.
  • Grandview BLM trails (access from Three Springs).
Animas City Mountain
  • BLM lands above the lower loops (about 1.5 miles above the 32nd street trailhead).
Twin Buttes Area
  • All upper trails as marked.
Bodo State Wildlife Areas
  • Exceptions: the Smelter Mountain Trail is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., dogs are prohibited; small-game hunting is allowed in the area south of La Plata County Road 210.
Perins Peak
  • The area east of County Road 208 and west of Hogs back.

rschafir@durangoherald.com

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