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Some public lands to close for winter to protect wildlife

Closures beginning Dec. 1 will help mule deer and elk through the colder months
Certain public lands will close Dec. 1 to protect elk and mule deer populations moving down from higher elevations for the winter. (Jerry McBride/ Durango Herald file)

Starting Dec. 1, certain lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the city of Durango will close to protect mule deer and elk that move down from higher elevations for the winter.

“The public’s cooperation helps ensure that these critical areas remain available for wildlife that are under increased stress during winter months,” said Connie Clementson, BLM Tres Rios Office field manager.

The agencies coordinate to identify key wildlife areas for protection, while keeping other areas open for winter recreation.

These area trails are closed to public use annually from Dec. 1 to April 15, with a possible extension to April 30 if conditions warrant:

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 land accessed from Carbon Junction Trail or Crite’s 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 Area

  • Exception: 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.

The Perins Peak area east of County Road 208 and west of Hogsback will be closed through July 31. Perins Peak is open only to pedestrian traffic for the remainder of the year, and the northernmost trails on Animas City will also be closed through July 31 to protect nesting peregrine falcons.

These areas will remain open for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and skiing:

Horse Gulch, Telegraph, Crites and Skyline areas

  • Meadow, Stacy’s, Mike’s, Telegraph, Crite’s and Sugar trails.
  • All of the Raider Ridge Trail to Medicine.
  • Down and Out and Snake Charmer trails.
  • Carbon Junction trailhead at Highway 3 to Telegraph via Crite’s Connection are open.

Lower Twin Buttes trails

  • Access off U.S. Highway 160 west; upper loops are closed.

All of Dalla Mountain Park

  • Access off Junction Creek Road.

Overend Mountain Park

  • Access at Leyden Street and Hidden Valley Circle.

Trails around Fort Lewis College and along the Rim

  • Lions Den, Chapman Flow and Jump Line.
  • The Rim, Squawker, Talker, Skyline and Shocker trail (accessed from the Powerline Trail).

The Colorado Trail

  • Access at Junction Creek.

A 1.5-mile loop trail on the lower portion of Animas City Mountain

  • Access from the Birket Drive and 32nd Street trailheads or Dalla Mountain Park.

CPW data about deer and elk movements throughout the year indicates that closing areas to human activity is necessary to protect critical foraging habitat and enable the animals to conserve energy for winter survival.

BLM reminds those out recreating this winter to remember to observe wildlife from a distance and keep dogs under control at all times.

njohnson@durangoherald.com

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