Swan Mountain recpath section closed
SUMMIT COUNTY – The new Swan Mountain section of county’s recpath has been closed to all human uses through March 31 to protect wildlife habitat.”We want to prevent any disturbance of foraging bald eagles and wintering elk,” said Ken Waugh, recreation staff officer for the local Forest Service ranger district. “It was anticipated that the new corridor could result in more people recreating in the area so it was decided that the rec-path should be closed in the winter,” Waugh said.The Swan Mountain area is an important winter range for elk. There are easily accessible food sources on the south and west facing slopes next to thick forest which provides cover where elk conserve energy. The presence of humans and their pets can cause stress to elk which in turn forces them to use large amounts of energy. This weakens them and reduces their chances of surviving the winter. “Forest visitors should always view wildlife from a safe distance and keep pets under control. If the wildlife starts to run or walk away, you are too close,” said Tom Kroening, of the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW).CDOW discourages use of the Swan Mountain area because of the wintering elk. However, anyone using the area is asked to keep their pets close to them. Owners can be fined if their dog chases elk, deer, or other wildlife. Summit Cove and the Swan Mountain Road, the two access points to the Lowry segment of the rec-path, will be posted as closed to all public uses. The entire area is already closed to snowmobiles. Winter recreationists can use another nearby trail system accessed from the trailhead on Forest Glen Road in the Whispering Pines Subdivision. Disturbance to elk in this area is minimal if users stay on the trail. Periodical law enforcement patrols will be conducted to ensure compliance. For additional information contact Ken Waugh at the Dillon Ranger District office, (970) 262-3446 or the front desk at (970) 468-5400.
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