Breckenridge gondola ops to begin July 1 as biologists monitor wildlife
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE – The BreckConnect Gondola is to begin its first summer run July 1 as biologists monitor possible impacts to nearby bird populations.
The town and Breckenridge Ski Resort are working together to finance a study plan – with a yet-to-be-determined budget cap – that evaluates the gondola’s impacts.
“This is completely in addition to all the monitoring we’re doing regularly,” town open space and trails planner Heide Andersen said. “We won’t change what we do on an annual basis.”
Biologist Christy Carello has worked for the town for about the past seven years, and she has been monitoring life – including birds – in the Cucumber Gulch wetlands over which the gondola travels. She submitted a report to the town last year outlining concerns about the gondola’s impact to migratory birds during their breeding season in June and July.
Her findings differed from those of Rick Thompson, a biologist working for the resort, who said there would likely be no significant impacts.
Town council on Tuesday decided to support selecting Carello to conduct this summer’s studies on how the gondola affects the birds, town Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron said.
“Vail Resorts wanted us to appoint their own biologist to evaluate the impact to the gondola, rather than using our biologist,” he said Thursday. “It was close, but we decided to use the one we’ve been using the last seven years.”
The resort will need to approve the town’s plan before it’s official, and Thompson is to review the data-collecting methods and analyze the results, Andersen said.
Comment from Vail Resorts on the plan was not available by press time Thursday.
Andersen said the wildlife monitoring is expected to occur the week before and the week after the gondola’s run. Field technicians would be in areas under the gondola from 5:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. on those days, recording bird movements and noise.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or email@example.com.
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