Local News Briefs | PostIndependent.com

Local News Briefs

CARBONDALE, Colorado – The U.S. Forest Service has closed the Avalanche Creek area to reduce disturbance and stress on bighorn sheep in their winter range.

“Avalanche Creek provides critical winter habitat for bighorn sheep. The low elevation, light snowpack, terrain that facilitates quick escape and plenty of winter forage are key elements of bighorn sheep winter habitat.” said Phil Nyland, wildlife biologist for the Aspen and Sopris ranger districts.

“The seasonal closure is designed to provide a refuge for bighorn sheep during this critical period.”

While Avalanche Creek is a popular place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, the public is asked to comply with the closure to give the bighorns the best chance possible to survive the winter.

“Research shows that even what appear to be small reactions by sheep to people, traffic, and dogs cause impacts over a period of months in terms of raised stress levels, increased metabolism and decreased food intake,” said Nyland.

Located nine miles south of Carbondale in the Crystal River Valley, Forest Service Road 310 (the Avalanche Creek Road) is closed to vehicles. The area north of Road 310 is closed to human use and the entire area is closed to dogs. These closures are in effect through May 1.

The area is jointly patrolled by the Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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