Proposed Seasonal Trail Closures on Eagle County Owned Homestead “L” Open Space
A letter from ECOS Director, Marcia Gilles
Eagle County Open Space (ECOS) has been working closely with Homestead HOA, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to implement the area wildlife closure critical for wildlife habitat in the Homestead L Open Space. I have decided not to implement the mandatory closure for the winter ’22/’23 season, but I anticipate an area closure going into effect on December 1, 2023.
Instead, this winter, ECOS will sign the area of most concern for wildlife management objectives toward the south end of the property beyond the mapped trail system. The signs will give users a better understanding of why a closure is necessary and expectations for behavior if they so choose to go beyond the signs. This winter we will host a rigorous education campaign with volunteers, social media, newsletter updates, and continued discussion with CPW, EVLT, the Homestead HOA board, and the community. The extra year of planning, gathering wildlife and human observations will inform the 2023 closure map that will balance recreation access and wildlife conservation values. ECOS staff will present more information at the December board meeting.
As a reminder, the fall and early winter are critical for wildlife’s winter survival. Here are a few things you can do to support wildlife and increase your enjoyment of the official trails:
· To avoid harassing wildlife it is recommended to leash your dog and travel in areas where wildlife are not present. Trail users and dogs can directly impact the survival of wintering for deer and elk. Dogs chasing wildlife creates unnecessary stress and depleted energy reserves.
· Stay on designated trails. Increased off-trail travel has led to new “unofficial” trails within mapped critical winter range habitat for elk and deer.
· Be considerate of others. Pick up dog waste and trash.
Thank you for the continued commitment and stewardship of the Eagle County Homestead L Open Space. If you have questions or concerns about Open Space management, contact me at email@example.com, or the Open Space Manager, Peter Suneson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~Marcia Gilles, Director of Open Space and Natural Resources
Representatives from Eagle County Open Space and Colorado Parks and Wildlife attended the Board Meeting on Friday, September 9, 2022 at 10:00am to discuss the possibility of wildlife closures on portions of the Homestead ‘L’ Open Space. Many community members attended to express their thoughts on the topic. Layton Stutsman, with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, shared a document on the importance of seasonal trail closures.
Representatives from Eagle County Open Space and The Eagle Valley Land Trust attended the Board Meeting on Friday, December 9, 2022 to have continued discussion on Eagle County Open Space trails presenting information on proposed wildlife closure areas for the 23-24 winter season and answering questions. Here are links to the information that was shared at the meeting:
More information on proposed closures available on Eagle County’s website
We invite any interested residents email your comments to email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org
Preserving our Trail Systems Hiking, walking, and riding bikes on muddy trails creates long-term damage to the trail surface. The resulting soil erosion and vegetation damage can drastically shorten the lifespan of a trail. In consideration of preserving our trail systems we ask that you do not use our trails when muddy. That said, you can use the trail when it is frozen, such as early in morning before it thaws. If you find the trails are muddy, please do not take shortcuts or walk on vegetation to get by. You may also notice some of our Homestead trails have additional closure signage, as we are restoring some areas that have been made into shortcuts that we are revegetating. We will be posting some signage to get the word out, as will Eagle County at the L Open Space. A message from Eagle County Open Space: Help Open Space dollars go farther by keeping to dry, durable surfaces. Fixing trail and vegetation damage costs tax dollars that could be used on other conservation projects. Your decision to avoid these areas can help keep trails from eroding and vegetation from being killed. All trails at Homestead L Open Space are closed when muddy conditions exist. Extended or more permanent closures may result if resource damage continues to occur. During the “mud seasons” soft surface trails will likely be frozen and suitable for use during the early morning hours or until the sun hits the trail surface. Help keep the trails on the Homestead L Open Space Open, by considering alternative locations for hiking, walking, and biking if the trails are muddy. Please contact Phil Kirkman or Peter Suneson at 970-328-8698 for questions. Trail Etiquette for Hiking with Dogs There are a multitude of great hiking and biking trails in Homestead and throughout the Vail Valley. We are currently in the process of creating trail maps of the Homestead Trails, in the meantime feel free to check out these other great resources:
Open Space Documents (presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting)
The Homestead Board of Directors appointed the following community members for our volunteer trails committee at the June 11, 2021 Board Meeting: Scott Bowers, Kathleen Halloran, Dave Bishop, Norman Bowles, Karen Shupe, Grant Smith, Gabe Shalley, Ann Portell, Jane Hall, John and Patricia Lee, Brett Donelson, Dustin Nyhus, Kris Miller, Mike Polk, and Bill McNamara (Chairperson and Board Liaison)