Wildlife Migration in the HD Mountains

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Wildlife Migration in the HD Mountains

Date: 06/23/2023     State: CO     Issues: Oil and Gas, Wild Lands, Wildlife     Partners: Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, San Juan Citizens Alliance Airport Origin : Durango, CO    


EcoFlight and our partners at San Juan Citizens Alliance are working to preserve remaining wildlife habitat in Wolf Creek and the HD Mountains, safeguarding Colorado's cultural landscapes, prized wildlife, and healthy forests.

The spectacularly rugged terrain of the San Juan Mountains around Wolf Creek Pass creates unique travel challenges for both humans and wildlife like deer and elk. As seen from the air, connective habitat and busy roadways alike are squeezed between snow capped peaks. The airplane provides a unique platform to examine wildlife migration corridors and habitat connectivity, and we were thrilled to have you along for the ride!

Acknowledging the need to protect critical connective habitat, federal agencies and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are kicking off their Statewide Habitat Conservation and Connectivity Plan! Protecting migration corridors and crucial seasonal habitat for species like elk and mule deer can help conserve our declining herds as they face threats from industrial, residential, and recreational development. Because these landscape level features span seasonal habitats across topography, they also help promote biodiversity and climate resilience.

In the San Juans, increasing recreation pressure and demand for natural resources put ever-growing pressure on dwindling wildlife habitat and connective corridors. In some ways, this region is becoming a model for how communities can better coexist with wildlife. For example, CDOT's successful wildlife overpass near Pagosa Springs is becoming an example for groups seeking to improve wildlife passages in other parts of the state. However, other challenges remain. This overflight examined migration routes for big game through oil and gas development in their crucial winter range in the HD Mountains, provided an aerial view of the proposed 8000-person resort near the top of Wolf Creek Pass in critical habitat for elk and imperiled lynx, and discussed the proposed - and later suspended - Jackson Mountain mountain bike trail system proposal in critical winter habitat for deer and elk.

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