DURANGO, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement officers have reported a number of trespasses as the days grow longer and warmer within the Grandview Ridge and Animas City Mountain closures. To protect critical wildlife habitat, these closures took effect Jan. 31, and will remain in place no later than April 15, 2012.
“We understand the BLM lands adjacent to Durango provide a scenic getaway and a great place to hike, bike and explore, but these areas are closed to recreational use at this time to protect wildlife habitat,” said Connie Clementson, BLM Tres Rios Field Office manager. “These areas are important to hundreds of deer, elk and other wildlife because in the winter snow depths increase and food becomes scarce at higher elevations.”
Deer and elk are especially vulnerable to disturbance in winter when they must conserve energy to survive. When humans encroach into areas where herds have migrated to find food and find shelter, the animals must expend energy running through deep snow to avoid the intrusions. Winter and early spring closures protect deer and elk from having to use up the energy they need to survive the elements the closures also avoid displacement of herds to the Animas Valley and along the US Highway 550 corridor.
Dogs are especially dangerous to deer and elk trying to survive winter. Regardless of our intentions, wild animals move to avoid people and pets. Even in heavy brush, elk can detect a person or a dog from 1,000 feet away a distance of more than three football fields. As a result, they may move up to a mile to avoid perceived danger. Areas protected from disturbance help deer and elk survive the winter and bear healthy young in spring. Even a deer or elk that appears to have escaped unharmed may have less chance of surviving winter as a direct result of expending stored energy to outrun dogs or flee the perceived threat of humans.
“The public can help by respecting the closures, keeping your pets on leashes and encouraging others to follow the closure notices,” said Clementson.
There are many other opportunities for winter recreation near Durango. Areas open to the public adjacent to Durango include the Horse Gulch and Raiders Ridge areas, Fort Lewis College Rim, Durango Mountain Park, Dalla Mountain Park and Junction Creek/Colorado Trail west of Durango.
Maps of the closure area may be obtained from at the Durango Public Lands Office located at 15 Burnett Court in Durango. The areas affected by this closure order are posted with appropriate regulatory signs and/or physical barriers.
For additional information or to report violations in these areas, call the Tres Rios Field Office (970) 882-7296.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2012, activities on public lands generated $4.6 billion in revenue, much of which was shared with the States where the activities occurred. In addition, public lands contributed more than $112 billion to the U.S. economy and helped support more than 500,000 jobs.