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