This is an interesting story (1) because of the unique history of Greenback Cutthroat Trout and the discovery that they had survived in this particular drainage.
After more than five years of research, Kennedy concluded that Bear Creek was historically fishless. The greenbacks had been stocked sometime after 1874 by a man named Joseph C. Jones. Jones had come to Colorado as a prospector during the gold rush and later built an inn for the hordes of tourists that visited Pike’s Peak. There he built a series of fish ponds for guests, where it is believed he stocked the greenback far outside of its native range.
It was human stocking — the same practice that had killed off or pushed out so many of Colorado’s native trout — that had accidentally preserved the greenback. With only 800 individuals left in the entire subspecies, it would be up to humans again to save it.
Here’s an article in High Country News that tells the whole story. Philosophically, it raises interesting questions. Would ecological integrity requirements include moving the Bear Creek fish out, since they had been originally transplanted? How important is “genetic purity” compared to the ecosystem services provided by genetically motlier populations/subspecies of cutthroat trout?
(2) Here’s the Colorado Springs Gazette story on the potential lawsuit with a link to the CBD letter. It’s got everything.. a collaborative group from previous litigation..design disagreements..and it’s about a trail. Perhaps most interesting that it looks like CBD is distinguishing between impacts of hiking, mountain bikes, and motorcycles.
The Colorado Motorcycle Trail Riders Association sent a statement to The Gazette, criticizing the center’s “incessant zeal.”
“The long, thoughtful process that resulted in the rerouting of several popular trails in Jones Park represents a balance between preserving Bear Creek fish habitat and allowing reasonable recreational outdoor access for all users,” the statement read.
For years during the Forest Service’s analysis and reroute negotiations, motorists were barred from the singletrack closest to town. Now roaming the realigned Trail 667 on the north side of Kineo Mountain, they are “the crux” of the center’s concern, said the organization’s attorney, Margaret Townsend.
“If it was just a footpath or even potentially a mountain bike trail, it could have some impact, but not necessarily the same impact a motorcycle trail is likely to have,” she said in a phone call. “Of course we want folks enjoying the forest, and where the trail was going to be originally, that location wouldn’t have affected the greenback.”
So.. what do others think of the “impact” idea?
“We’ve got some concerns with upkeep; the trail’s not holding up the way it was sort of advertised,” said Cory Sutela, with Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates. “But it’s also pretty far from the creek.”
He’s no biologist, he said. “I’m a mechanical engineer, so I look at it technically, and it looks to me like sediment shouldn’t be able to get from the trail to the creek.”
Tim Volken of El Paso County:
The county “would appreciate reviewing any scientific data generated by the center indicating water quality concerns,” Wolken said. “This will be helpful in determining next steps
But to Allyn Kratz, president of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, the evidence is “overwhelming,” and not in the favor of conservation.
He said he raised concerns about the trail before it was built, noticing at least eight “ravines” on the mountainside while hiking the flagged route — “ravines created by water,” Kratz said, “and the water obviously went to Bear Creek.”
He said he was told Trails Unlimited would address this. But he was unsatisfied in the end and remains so.
“I would love to see (Trail 667) closed,” Kratz said.
Conceivably after previous litigation, the trail was designed with sedimentation concerns in mind. Does anyone know of studies about different on-trail users having different sedimentation impacts? This may be time for a field trip…