Thursday April 6, 2017
Boulder County Parks & Open Space Headquarters
5201 St Vrain Rd
Have you ever sighted an elk as you ride the trails at Rabbit Mountain? Have you noticed an increase in the number of elk up there over the past decade?
BCPOS has done some elk telemetry studies that indicate the herd has not only increased dramatically but has ceased to migrate from Rabbit Mountain to the high country. Instead, they stay at Rabbit Mountain year-round, causing damage to shrubs on the preserve and to crops on neighboring agricultural lands. Staff says they have evaluated several management actions to mitigate the elk impacts, including encouraging adjacent property owners to “harvest” them, administering fertility control, trapping and transplanting them, professional culling, fencing, less palatable crop alternatives, and hazing by walking behind the animals. Staff claims none of the listed techniques will be effective enough, so they now conclude that the only remaining alternative is hunting. In the proposed scenario, the entire property would be closed to all other recreation during hunting season. However, trails were not even discussed as an elk management technique, nor was more aggressive hazing.
In 2013 BCPOS began a comprehensive “Rabbit Mountain Management Plan” which would have evaluated many different aspects of how to manage the property, including what’s working and what isn’t with regard to the wildlife, weeds, access, and trails. However, The Flood of 2013 diverted staff’s ability to do planning in favor of flood mitigation, and the Rabbit Mountain Management Plan has never been revived.
BCHA submitted a detailed plan in 2013 for how the trail system at Rabbit Mountain could be significantly improved, and all of the points we made then are still valid today.
We believe the original comprehensive plan process should be reopened now, and that elk management should be part of the overall plan instead of merely a stand-alone topic. This is an excellent opportunity to advocate for more trails!
Here is a link to the web page about this meeting and the plan. Please try to attend the meeting and provide your input. If you can’t make it to the meeting but would like to submit comments online, enter them on the web page above.