Eagle to begin closing trails two weeks sooner than originally planned | PostIndependent.com

Eagle to begin closing trails two weeks sooner than originally planned

Ash Lohmann
Vail Daily
In alignment with BLM closures, soft-surface trails in the town of Eagle will be closed for use starting Dec. 1.
Jeff Woods | Special to the Daily

Soft-surface trails in Eagle will now close Dec. 1, two weeks earlier than the town’s historic closure date, following an Oct. 11 Eagle town council decision.

Town Manager Larry Pardee said that the Dec. 1 closure aligns with Bureau of Land Management closure dates, allowing for more cohesion throughout the region.

Pardee also said the new closing date establishes a balance between protecting treasured wildlife and enjoying top-tier recreation.

The decision came following a Sept. 27 suggestion from Eagle Open Space Manager Brian Lieberman, who notified the town that the Bureau of Land Management has changed their public land closure dates to Dec. 1. The BLM suggested Eagle do the same, Lieberman said.

The BLM says it is adjusting its closing dates from Dec. 15 to Dec. 1 in an attempt to extinguish the late-season hunt, restore habitats and protect roads.

“We appreciate the public’s cooperation in helping us protect wildlife and public lands,” BLM Colorado River Valley field manager Larry Sandoval said.

Because much of Eagle’s public land borders Bureau of Land Management public land, Lieberman said the Town of Eagle was put into a “tough situation” as Eagle’s trails, historically, have also closed for the season on Dec. 15.

“So, basically throughout the whole area, we’d have the same seasonal wildlife closure dates and potential benefits to wildlife, giving them 14 extra days at the beginning of the season,” Lieberman said in explaining why the change was needed.

Eagle County has also changed its trail closure dates to align with the bureau’s new dates. 

Lieberman informed the council the Eagle Open Space Recreation Advisory Committee also recommended the town adapt to the same seasonal closure dates as the Bureau of Land Management. 

“They thought this would be beneficial for consistency of seasonal closures,” Lieberman said.

Some residents expressed disappointment in the town council’s decision to close the trails sooner.

Eagle resident John Daly said hikers and bikers visit the area for year-round fun, attracted to Eagle’s open space, trails and adventure-centric culture.

“That’s why they live here, that’s what brought them here, that’s the quality of life,” Daly said.

Citing a 2001 Eagle community survey, Daly explained how he thinks further limiting the recreation opportunities in Eagle is misrepresentative of the townspeople’s values. The survey Daly recalled reports that residents moved to and have remained in Eagle primarily because of the scope of recreation opportunity the town has to offer.  

Lieberman said 25 public comments were submitted online on the topic, with 14 respondents supporting for the proposed date changes and 11 against.

The council’s vote in favor of the Dec. 1 closure was unanimous. Not only would the Dec. 1 trail closures make things more straightforward for many involved parties, but town council members said Dec. 1 is a reasonable time for the community to “step out” of the habitat and let local wildlife “do their thing.”

Lieberman said he and former Eagle Police chief Joe Staufer discussed what kind of enforcement would make the new closure date effective. In order to be supportive of hikers and bikers who aren’t in the loop on the updated closure dates, Lieberman said education will be the focus of enforcement for the trail closures.

To stay in-the-know on Eagle trail closures, information and updates can be found the open space and trail information page on the Town of Eagle website. Additionally, regional public land updates are available on the Bureau of Land Management website.

A complete list and maps of the areas affected by winter closures is available at https://go.usa.gov/xP64j and at the Colorado River Valley Field Office, located at 2300 River Frontage Road in Silt.

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