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Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Colorado 14ers access and fee issues only, please
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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby SteveBonowski » Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:50 pm

jsdratm actually has summarized the trails issue rather nicely. Sedimentation is a major problem; and was confirmed in the OHV grant presentation last month by the Colorado Motorcycle Trail Riders Assn. CMTRA applied for, and should receive, an OHV grant for work on a re-route of the trail away from the stream. I say "should receive" as while the grant was approved by the State Recreational Trails Committee on March 11, it still needs final approval next month by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission. Their grant application was endorsed by the CMC, in a letter to the OHV subcommittee of State Trails, back in January.

Since there is always a lag of a year in the grant process, work would not start until 2014 (grants have to be in the "long bill" (budget bill); gets passed in this session of the legislature; signed by the governor; takes effect July 1; then the contract prep period starts).

You can see a summary of things on their web site: www.cmtrail.org . Their current partners include, among others, Trout Unlimited and a mountain bike group. In terms of closing off all access, the motorcycle group opined, and probably rightfully so, that they were being singled out.

I think Matt Payne summed it up in a different way: this is not an "us vs. them" situation.

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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby Jim Davies » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:00 pm

The motorcycle people are no longer being "singled out", if that makes them any happier. The FS plan to be presented at the open house (as described in the watershed assessment) would close off ALL access to Jones Park and most of the Bear Creek watershed above Josephine Falls, including hikers and off-trail climbers.

Whether sedimentation is a "major problem" is questionable. The trout have survived through decades of off-road motorcycle use in their watershed, and the Parks & Wildlife biologist who documents the "30% drop" said that he thinks this is measurement error or natural fluctuation, since the trout he saw were fat and healthy (see the csindy story).

btw, I'm still waiting to see their announcement of the open house (which is only 8 days away). I suspect they're stalling because they know what a furor this will cause.
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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby jsdratm » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:27 pm

Thanks for the additional info Steve, that sounds promising even if it will take a while.

Even if trout were removed from the equation, the fact remains that the trails need major work or they will keep eroding and further damage the landscape. I remember hiking along 667 and having much of the trail covered in running water because the water melting off Tenney Crags does not drain properly to the creek and instead flows down the trail. There was also a very ugly section of trail near Jones Park that had eroded several feet below where it normally would be and braided. I'm glad to see the RMFI and the CMTRA working on the problem, and like Mr. Payne said, anyone interested in keeping the trails open should volunteer and/or donate money to help the cause. If we can't fund the USFS sufficiently to handle routine trail maintenance, we have to take responsibility to fix the problem. If I remember right, they only have a handful of rangers to cover the entire Pikes National Forest.

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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby RockyMountainMustang » Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:34 pm

Here's a link to a Denver Post article. http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_21622897/pure-greenback-cutthroat-trout-confirmed-remote-colorado-stream


It sounds like they want to close it off immediately, but ultimately plan on making new trails that would prevent more erosion into Bear Creek. So what if the Forest Service closes it off for a couple of months or a year? If it helps a last surviving population of threatened greenback cutthroats in the state, it seems worth it, at least from a conservationist's perspective. In all honesty, I applaud them, they are doing their job - listening to the biologists in order to help protect our natural resources. It seems too often we wait to act until it's too late and there's no saving unique, at-risk populations. If everyone who loved the area worked together to re-route and build new trails, they'd be able to let recreational users back in sooner. There is certainly no shortage of trails in Colorado, or more specifically, the Colorado Springs area . I like hiking in the area, but I understand the need for temporary closures and occasional environmental repair in high usage areas.

There's a delicate balance to conserving natural areas and permitting recreational usage. This is why things like Leave No Trace and trail crews are so important, because there's such a high volume of use that fragile areas aren't designed to accommodate. Look at California, where National Parks are moving more and more into trail quota systems. When I visited Yosemite last summer, I was initially pissed off, thinking how it took all the spontaneity and fun out of it having to make reservations way in advance, but unfortunately there's a need for it. Sure, it's inconvenient, but I guess I'd rather have that than have it feel like in some kind of day-after-Thanksgiving sale, walking a 17mi. RT trail in a crowd of 1,200 people (Half Dome). That being said, I still dread the day where it may be necessary to do that with Colorado's 14ers. (I know it may feel like it impinges on people's freedom, people feel that they should be free to climb a mountain when they want to, but with that freedom comes the responsibility to do what's right for the environment. The 14ers are our escape and our playground, but they are other species' homes.)
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"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable." - Helen Keller

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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby susanjoypaul » Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:09 am


Thanks for sharing the article - lots of good info there and in your post, too.

I don't think anyone wants to see the species wiped out due to recklessness or overuse of the area, but I'm hoping they find a better solution than closing access. Anyone trying to finish the El Paso county ranked peaks list is going to have a tough time of it with the trails closed. I already did all the peaks back there, and have no plans to repeat them, but there are others working on that list. I know how selfish and short-sighted that sounds, but that is the peak-baggers' point of view. More recently, I've enjoyed the waterfalls in the area: Josephine Falls on Bear Creek, and Undine Falls on the Seven Bridges Trail.

If anyone sets up a trail day please post it here - I would gladly give up a weekend to assist with trail-building.

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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:51 am

RockyMountainMustang wrote:It sounds like they want to close it off immediately, but ultimately plan on making new trails that would prevent more erosion into Bear Creek. So what if the Forest Service closes it off for a couple of months or a year?

Just to be clear, that article was from last year, and the "temporary" closure to motorized use is already in effect.

What's planned in the future is to permanently close all of the Jones Park trails to all users, including hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers.

The way to get less crowded trails is not to close off big chunks of them. This is a big loss for the local hiking community.

Also, the pure greenbacks are now being bred in hatcheries, and there are probably more of them in "captivity" than in Bear Creek at this point.

Susan, Friends of the Peak has a series of Seven Bridges maintenance Thursdays scheduled this summer, starting May 30th. http://www.fotp.com/7-events/projects
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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby RockyMountainMustang » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:26 am

I would agree that closing it off completely, PERMANENTLY, doesn't seem reasonable. Should the trails be rerouted and properly reinforced, I don't see how it would negatively impact the watershed. I also don't think peakbagging is selfish or inherently harmful to the environment. I was simply trying to point out that if we, the people who use the trails, don't care about the well-being of those trails and the areas they go through, then who will? We are Coloradoans - we love our mountains and we like to be out on them - they are part of our heritage and our identity.

In regard to the green cutthroat trout captive breeding program, it's great that we have one, but that doesn't necessarily correlate to their well-being and ultimate survival as a species. It would be necessary to find at least one, ideally several successful locations to re-establish them where the species would be able to thrive, while maintaining their genetic integrity. Ex. There are more tigers living in captivity in the US than there are left in the wild - tigers sitting in a cage here does nothing to get them off the endangered species list.

As this summer is shaping up to be as dry as the last, I think the even bigger issue facing Colorado's watersheds will be the consequences of potential wildfires. Which, if anyone is interested, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (https://fw.civicore.com/voc/index.php?section=opportunities&action=list&Itemid=321) will be doing restoration work on areas impacted by the Waldo Canyon Fire on March 30 and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute will also being doing restoration work in the Blodgett Peak area on April 5 (http://www.rmfi.org/volunteer-rmfi).
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable." - Helen Keller

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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby Waggs » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:00 pm

Severy Creek says hello!

And as far as I know, the trail is STILL not open.

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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:24 pm

Waggs wrote:Severy Creek says hello!

And as far as I know, the trail is STILL not open.

Waggs

Nope. They talked about it last year, but it hasn't happened yet. My wife points this out whenever I say something like "maybe they'll determine it isn't a separate species"...."remember Severy Creek".
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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby mattpayne11 » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:33 am

RockyMountainMustang wrote:As this summer is shaping up to be as dry as the last, I think the even bigger issue facing Colorado's watersheds will be the consequences of potential wildfires. Which, if anyone is interested, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (https://fw.civicore.com/voc/index.php?section=opportunities&action=list&Itemid=321) will be doing restoration work on areas impacted by the Waldo Canyon Fire on March 30 and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute will also being doing restoration work in the Blodgett Peak area on April 5 (http://www.rmfi.org/volunteer-rmfi).


Thanks for posting this - you can sign up for updates from RMFI on when volunteer opportunities are happening. They fill up quite quickly too. :-)

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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby KentonB » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:46 pm

Wow... Another one of my favorite hiking areas closing. I think Jones Park was one of the first hikes I ever did after moving to the Springs 20 years ago! Fortunately, I've tagged all the mountains in that area, but it will be a shame to see it close. :(

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Re: Access Alert: Jones Park, Upper Bear Creek to be closed

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:36 pm

I just noticed that on the map of proposed trail changes
the Seven Bridges trail will be "open seasonally". In the existing trail map
it's labelled as "open year-long". Maybe it's just a typo, but... ](*,)
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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