The U.S. Forest Service on Monday put out the following press release seeking trail ambassador volunteers in the Eagle River Valley:
MINTURN, Colo. – Local wildlife enthusiasts who want to help wintering wildlife in the Eagle Valley are encouraged participate in a virtual information and training session about becoming a Wildlife Trail Ambassador on Dec. 9 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Since 2017, the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District has partnered with the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Association on the Wildlife Trail Ambassador program, which uses volunteers to help educate the public about the importance of avoiding disturbance to critical winter wildlife habitat.
Winter is a critical time for deer and elk survival in the Eagle Valley, and the Forest closes specific trails in the winter to avoid disturbance from humans and dogs. If wintering big game are disturbed too often, they’ll more rapidly burn through their winter fat reserves and potentially abandon the best winter habitat available. This means they face a greater risk of predation or starvation, and may have reduced fawn and calf survival in the spring.
The need for public education is as strong as ever as the Forest has seen not only record public use of trails this year, but also a sharp increase in winter closure violations.
“Unfortunately, many of our seasonal wildlife trail closures were violated during 2020 winter/spring season. We saw a more than 700 percent increase in violations on the Everkrisp Trail alone. This is severely detrimental to our big game herds and we must do better. Ambassadors are key to making this change,” said Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Leanne Veldhuis.
This year’s ambassador program will focus on the formation of Ambassador Teams. Existing Adopt-A -Trail teams and new teams are welcome to join. Visit the VVMTA link to sign up for the training https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WIPFDkS5TW-LCUCqVK0osw.
For information about other seasonal trail closures, open trails, and current trail conditions in the Eagle Valley, please visit: https://www.vvmta.org/trail-closures/.