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Trails closed for winter reopen around Durango

Areas had been closed since Dec. 1 to protect winter habitat for wildlife
A cyclist rides past the closed trail sign and orange fencing that stretches across the entrance to the Sale Barn Trail on the southeast side of Durango. Several trails closed to protect winter habitat for wildlife opened Monday around Durango.

Popular trails around Durango closed to protect critical winter habitat for wildlife reopened Monday, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM said trails in Grandview Ridge, Animas City Mountain and Twin Buttes that connect to Durango are now open to recreation.

“These trails are within important big game winter range, so the BLM and the city of Durango close these areas to ensure the animals have adequate food and space,” said Connie Clementson, BLM Tres Rios Field Manager.

“It has been an unusually warm winter, and we appreciate the public’s support and adherence to the closures although it was tempting to access the areas during many of the springlike days in the last few months.”

Every year, the BLM cordons off areas that are critical winter habitat for wildlife from Dec. 1 to April 15.

The past few years, the BLM saw many people disregard the closure. Despite the limited number of patrol officers, and therefore patrols, the BLM wrote 19 tickets in 2016 and another 13 tickets in 2017.

This year, Tyler Fouss, a BLM law enforcement manager, said that people seem to be getting the message. During the 2017-18 season, only one ticket was written and five warnings were issued.

Fouss believes a combination of factors have resulted in fewer violations, such as increased enforcement, better signage and more robust efforts to get the word out that these areas are closed to recreation.

“And with the weather here less of a winter, people were able to get into areas that are usually snowed in,” Fouss said.

Many of the areas closed are accessed through Sale Barn, Big Canyon, Carbon Junction and Three Springs trailheads, the BLM said. The South Rim, Sidewinder and Twin Butte trails and the upper portion of Animas City Mountain are also open.

Areas managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bodo State Wildlife Area and Perins Peak State Wildlife Area west of Dry Fork Road (County Road 208) are now open.

Perins Peak State Wildlife Area east of Dry Fork Road is still closed until July 31.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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