Seasonal trail and road closures explained and reinforced with signs and gates
Known as the “Banana Belt” for its relatively mild winters, Chaffee County hosts many species of migrating wildlife. Elk spend a lot of time in the valley bottoms where snow is shallower and they can forage for food. Other forested areas are important for birthing and raising young animals in the spring.
To protect this type of critical wildlife habitat from human disturbance, seasonal closures are placed on specific trails and roads during certain times of the year. The closures are not followed by all outdoor enthusiasts, who sometimes do not understand the impact of their presence on wildlife.
Common Ground supports projects that install sturdy gates and signs at seasonal closure areas to encourage the public to follow rules that support wildlife in Chaffee County. To date, volunteers with the Quiet Use Coalition have worked with the U.S. Forest Service to address 10 areas by installing lockable gates, signage and adjacent fencing to encourage people to make responsible travel and recreation choices.
Project monitoring indicates that gates and signs can help, as volunteers have noted tracks in snow or dirt showing that people traveled up to the new infrastructure and turned around.