Trails in the Bear Creek watershed, including the popular Captain Jack’s trail, just outside Colorado Springs, Colo., have been closed to motorcycles and other off-road vehicles following an agreement between the Pike and San Isabel National Forest and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in September to close the trails after a DNA study earlier this year determined that Bear Creek has the last pure and wild population of the greenback cutthroat trout, Colorado’s state fish. The trout have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1978, according to the center’s news release.
The agreement, filed in federal court in Denver on Nov. 21, requires the Forest Service to prohibit off-road vehicles on nearly all five of the trails that run through the Bear Creek watershed. Before those trails could be reopened, the Forest Service would have to consult with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that trail use wouldn’t threaten the trout. Advocates at the Center for Biological Diversity say motorcycles using the trail drop sentiment into the creek, endangering the fish.
Though motorized use of the trails is prohibited, the agreement does not affect hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders.
Ned Suesse, trail coordinator for the Colorado Motorcycle Trail Riders Association, told the Colorado Springs Independent that most of the sedimentation comes from the existence of the trail, not it’s use. He says the trail, then, should be closed to all traffic.
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