40% of Colorado’s most important moose habitat is affected by recreational trail use

New analysis shows extent of overlap and highlights opportunities for responsible recreation management

Denver, Colo. – Today, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership unveiled new analysis showing that 40 percent of Colorado’s most important elk habitat is affected by trail use and proposed sensible management options to facilitate sustainable recreation and lasting conservation of Colorado’s big game animals.

“This analysis is intended to facilitate conversation and provide useful information so that land managers and outdoor recreationists can more effectively conserve iconic big game species like elk while enjoying high-end recreational opportunities. quality”. said Liz Rose, the Colorado field representative for TRCP. “Outdoor recreation is a cornerstone of Colorado’s economy and central to our state’s identity, and this is one of the reasons science-based management of our natural resources, including wildlife It’s so critical.”

The analysis presented today builds on a growing body of research showing the extent to which different types of recreational trail use displace moose from otherwise suitable habitat. This information, used in conjunction with data representing motorized and non-motorized trails from the COTREX database, suggests that more than 8 million acres of Colorado’s most important elk habitat could be considered elk avoidance areas, given their response of well-documented flight to recreationists. .

Displaced moose could face population declines, and this means fewer opportunities for hunters and wildlife watchers alike. You can see a summary of this analysis and maps representing its findings here, and read why this data matters to athletes here.

To ensure that important habitats remain connected and usable for elk and other big game animals, the TRCP has proposed the following:

  • Avoid the highest priority moose habitats when planning recreational infrastructure whenever possible.
  • Limit the use of motorized and non-motorized roads and trails during certain times of the year when elk or other large game are present, if important habitat cannot be avoided.
  • Limit the density of motorized and non-motorized roads and trails in important habitats where these time-of-use restrictions are not practical.

The TRCP analysis comes a year after the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Department of Transportation released recommendations to conserve important habitats and big game populations that highlighted the need for improved recreation planning and coordination. between jurisdictions. The departments also recommended moving recreational pressure away from the most important big game habitats and keeping trail densities low in high-priority habitats.

The Colorado Bureau of Land Management is currently deciding whether to include recreation among the factors considered in the scope of its Big Game Resource Management Plan Amendment, which will guide land use planning efforts to conserve animals. of large game such as elk on public lands throughout the state. Athletes have been encouraging the BLM to use the latest science and consider all relevant factors in this process, including the impacts of trail-based recreation on big game hunting. The TRCP recently launched an online advocacy tool that allows Coloradans to send messages to the BLM in support of these priorities.

“The challenges our wildlife faces in the future won’t necessarily be the same as they faced 50 or 100 years ago, and the science is clear that trail-based recreation is having an impact in Colorado and throughout western California. the United States as a record. Many Americans enjoy the outdoors.” said Madeleine West, director of TRCP’s Center for Public Lands. “If we can raise awareness of the issue and bring stakeholders together to work on collaborative solutions, there’s no reason we can’t have the best of both worlds in terms of doing what’s best for wildlife and providing abundant opportunities to the environment. outdoors, all while growing our outdoor recreation economy.

Founded in 2002, TRCP is the nation’s largest coalition of conservation organizations, uniting and amplifying sports voices by convening hunting and fishing groups, conservation organizations and outdoor businesses with a common purpose.