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Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

In just a few weeks, black bears around the Roaring Fork Valley will settle down for a season of hibernation. But until then, they are on the hunt for food that will help them last through the winter. That hunt draws them out of the forests and hillsides and into town, where unsecured garbage serves as a tempting source of calorie-rich sustenance. 

As those bears wander into human-dominated areas, police are often called into action to make sure all parties remain unharmed, both two-legged and four.

DJ Hannigan / Colorado Parks and Wildlife

 

Roadside signs warn "bears are clever." Stories of bears digging through trash cans abound. As autumn rolls around, Colorado Parks and Wildlife warns that people should be on the lookout for hungrier bears.

The region's black bears are entering a period called hyperphagia. As the animals prepare for hibernation, they are on the hunt for food, packing on calories ahead of winter hibernation.

Mountain Edition: June 14, 2018

Jun 14, 2018

This week, hosts Zoe Rom and Christin Kay bring you the week's news from the Roaring Fork Valley. 

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

People, plants and animals all enjoy the nearly 5,000 acres of land owned by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. To make sure the shared space remains a thriving ecosystem, Open Space and Trails is turning to data collected on site.

New wildlife ordinance has teeth

Jun 8, 2018
aspenpitkin.com

After a series of incidents between humans and wildlife - particularly with bears -  it is now illegal to harass wild animals in the City of Aspen. The new ordinance doubles fees for harassing wildlife within city limits.

Courtesy of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails

July in Aspen is peak tourist season. As part of a monthly series on Roaring Fork wildlife, Elizabeth Stewart-Severy checked in on some visitors from the south who are in the middle of some critical work this summer. It’s time for migratory birds to stretch their wings.

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

The late June heat above Carbondale is dry and sneezy. Butterflies flutter through the sagebrush, stalked by teams of net-wielding students and scientists.

Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service

With summer season warming up, area wildlife agencies are reminding people to respect trails that remain closed.

Courtesy of Aspen Center for Environmental Studies

Young and newborn wildlife often attract the attention of well-meaning citizens. Wildlife agencies and local nonprofits are reminding people to keep their distance.

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy/Aspen Public Radio News

As more and more people make use of public lands for skiing, hiking and biking, wildlife experience additional strain. This week, two Colorado researchers are in the Roaring Fork Valley to discuss how best to balance recreation and wildlife conservation.

Courtesy of pitkincounty.com

The immensely popular Sky Mountain Park trails close Thursday for the winter season.

 

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails lead ranger Pryce Hadley said the closures are key to protecting wildlife, especially elk, during the most stressful season.

Last day for public input on biodiversity policy

Jul 14, 2016
Courtesy of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails

The public comment period for Open Space and Trails’ new biodiversity policy closes today after two extensions.

 

The draft policy sets biodiversity - not recreation - as the top priority in making decisions about Open Space and Trails’ properties.

Aspen Community School Adopts New Safety Measures

Apr 20, 2016
Marci Krivonen

The Aspen Community School is implementing a new safety plan that includes drills like “lockdowns” and table-top exercises. The increased security is meant to prepare for events like an active shooter, a bear inside the school or a wildfire. As contributor Marci Krivonen reports, schools across Colorado have been increasing security since Columbine in 1999.

Moose population growing statewide

Mar 20, 2016

Moose are starting to appear in more populated areas in Colorado. One was spotted only a couple of weeks ago in Glenwood Springs. Experts/wildlife officials said this is expected to become more common as the moose population continues to grow in the state. Aspen Public Radio’s Barbara Platts has the story.

White River National Forest

Forest Service officials say early data shows record numbers of visitors to high use areas in the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness over the summer.

Moose are moving closer to Aspen

Sep 18, 2015
Facebook/Pitkin County Open Space and Trails

Pitkin County’s Open Space and Trails Department is planning to put up signs about moose on some of its properties after several reports of sightings. 

It’s the first time in recent memory moose have been spotted at places like the North Star Nature Preserve, along the Hunter Creek trail and near the Roaring Fork River in the midvalley.

Education materials on how to behave around moose are prolific in areas like the Maroon Bells. Now, Assistant Director of Pitkin County Open Space Gary Tennenbaum says his department will add them to their properties.

Marci Krivonen

Too many people are storing food in their tents in the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, so the Forest Service is mandating bear resistant containers.

Forest Service District Ranger Karen Shroyer says the decision comes after recent human-bear conflicts in the heavily used wilderness area. It stretches over 160,000 acres and includes the Maroon Bells scenic area.

For decades the Aspen Valley Land Trust has kept open spaces in the Roaring Fork Valley from being developed. Now, the organization’s director is preparing to step down. Martha Cochran sat down with Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen. She says the work AVLT has done to permanently preserve land is not just critical for views and historic land uses, like ranching, it’s important for wildlife.

Martha Cochran is executive director of Aspen Valley Land Trust. She’s stepping down at the end of the year, but intends to stay in the Roaring Fork Valley.

High river flows good for bugs, wildlife

Jun 22, 2015
Cornelia Carpenter

Bugs and wildlife are benefiting from higher-than-normal rivers in the Roaring Fork watershed. Heavy rain and snowmelt have boosted flows to flood stage in some areas. It’s positive for the river ecosystem.

River flows are above average on the Roaring Fork, Frying Pan, Crystal and Colorado rivers. It’s good news for water quality and wildlife habitat along the riverbanks. The flows knock away dirt buildup in the spaces between rocks on the riverbed. Rick Lafaro with the Roaring Fork Conservancy says that’s where bugs live.

Marci Krivonen

The management of a nature preserve east of Aspen is getting an update, in part, to address overcrowding. The section of the Roaring Fork River that runs through the North Star Nature Preserve is busy in the summer and traffic piles up along Highway 82. Aspen resident Phil Dwyer has seen it first-hand.

"It’s amazing how much traffic is out here. It’s great that it’s popular. But, the parking has been long and lining the highway for quite a ways."

nwcoloradohunting.com

Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants input on how it should operate in the coming years. The agency generates its own $200 million dollar budget. The lion’s share comes from hunting licenses and similar fees. And that revenue is dropping because the agency is selling fewer licenses. CPW is looking for public input on how to make up for the losses, which could include new user fees. 

“Have you heard about the moose?”

Jul 11, 2014
wikipedia

Moose are showing up this summer at one of Aspen’s most popular destinations; the Maroon Bells.  Already there have been reports of moose charging hikers and the Forest Service closed the trails there for a day this week. The trails have reopened but rangers are warning visitors to be aware of the potential danger.  As Aspen Public Radio’s Dorothy Atkins explains they are also considering other options.

allvail.com

The White River National Forest is working toward the final stages of updating its oil and gas plan. The document sets out rules for the energy industry, like where and when they can operate on the Forest. And, it could impact what happens in the Thompson Divide. The agency is updating the old plan partly because oil and gas operations have advanced in the area. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

mape_s/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Forest Service is chipping away at plans to improve habitat on 10’s of thousands of acres in the Roaring Fork Valley. The large-scale project includes thinning overgrown vegetation in areas like the Frying Pan and Crystal River Valleys. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

More Bears and People in Colorado mean More Problems

Jun 21, 2013
Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Aspen sits smack dab in the middle of prime black bear habitat, and already this year several sightings and home break-in’s have been reported. The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife takes those reports and deals with problem bears. Julie Mao is a Terrestrial Biologist for the agency. She told Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen as populations of bears and people grow in the state, more run-in’s with the bruins are expected.