BLM continues Wolford closures | SkyHiNews.com

BLM continues Wolford closures

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will continue with seasonal closures of big game wildlife habitats near Wolford Mountain Reservoir.

The BLM requested to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to work with Grand County and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to enact a seasonal closure of access to BLM lands via County Roads 224, 25, and 227 for the critical wildlife winter range.

BLM Field Office Manager Stephanie Odell expressed concerns of vehicles entering wildlife habitats near Wolford Mountain Reservoir. Odell said BLM's concern was regarding vehicles (not including snowmobiles) entering BLM land via certain roads that travel through big game habitat protection areas. Odell said the BLM's law enforcement has been struggling to keep vehicles out of the areas.

The BOCC agreed that they did not want to see permanent or temporary gates installed, but that they were fine with snow berms to act as barriers. Commissioner Kris Manguso said plow trucks already make barriers in these areas when they pass by the entrances to the roads, but crews can add to the existing barriers to keep vehicles out. Odell said the BLM would also install more closure signs in the area.

Snowmobiles are still allowed on the closed roads, given that they stay on the road and do not venture off.

Mark Campbell, Kremmling's Town Manager, expressed concerns that the closures could impact the town's emergency evacuation plan that they are in the process of developing. Odell reassured Campbell that in the event of an emergency the closures would be lifted, and since there are no permanent gates there would be no extra obstacles other than snow barriers.

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Campbell said Kremmling's evacuation plan uses US Highway 40 east and west, but may use one of the county roads if US 40 was unavailable.

Odell said the BLM's normal closure dates are Dec.15-April 15. These dates are estimated for an average snowfall year, but can change if snow arrives early or late—as it did this year.

Lyle Sidener, CPW Manager for Area 9 said the closures would be important from CPW's standpoint to protect wildlife. Sidener said the closures are most important in the springs because wildlife are weakened by a long winter, and disturbing them before they have recovered could result in higher death rates.

No vote was cast to allow the closures, but all three commissioners agreed they would allow it.

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