Rio Grande Trail seasonal closure begins Dec. 1 |

Rio Grande Trail seasonal closure begins Dec. 1

The hundreds of hikers, bikers and rollerbladers using the newest stretch of the Rio Grande Trail over the last couple of weeks can rejoice – it’s open for another month.The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s management plan calls for the trail between Rock Bottom Ranch and Catherine Bridge to be closed from Dec. 1 until May 1 to lessen impacts on wildlife. The Aspen Times inaccurately printed in a recent story that RFTA would close that section of trail on Nov. 1.The article contributed to the confusion over a contentious issue. The paving of the trail and the closure were hotly debated. The trail opened early in October.RFTA’s board of directors approved the recommendation of wildlife biologist Jonathon Lowsky, who was hired to draft a management plan. He advised adopting two major recommendations from the Colorado Division of Wildlife: banning dogs altogether from the stretch between Rock Bottom and Catherine Bridge and restricting human use during winter months.The wildlife division consistently has requested the closure from Dec. 1 until May 1. The agency never requested an earlier closure.”This area has considerable use by deer and elk during the critical winter months when they are most susceptible to disturbance,” said the state agency’s latest letter on the topic. “During that time period it is important to limit disturbance to wildlife that may already be struggling to survive the winter.”

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