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Trust Our Land: Waiting for wildlife and hiking with friends

by Bergen Tjossem

Wildlife are one of our community’s most treasured resources. Deer, elk, and our other furry friends inspire and give us a reason to tread lightly in the backcountry.

Protecting wildlife is a responsibility that unites all of us. Trail closures are one of our community’s most important tools for giving wildlife the space they need during times of the year when they are most vulnerable. Elk and deer are in survival mode; even the slightest disturbances can have significant cumulative impacts throughout winter and spring. As our community grows, so too must our respect for wildlife and their needs.

Fortunately, awareness about the importance of trail closures has been growing in our county. This awareness, combined with efforts like Adopt A Trail’s Trail Ambassador Program, has resulted in a significant increase in trail closure adherence. Not only are local trail users increasingly willing to comply with closures, many have voiced support and volunteered their time and energy to spread the message.

To be a true friend of wildlife, give them space year-round. A rule of thumb is to measure your distance using your thumb. If you are lucky enough to encounter an animal on an open trail, extend your arm fully, close one eye, put up your thumb, and try to block the animal with it. If your thumb fully covers the animal, your distance is adequate. If you can’t cover the animal with your thumb, slowly give it more space until you can.

After a long winter, many of us are bursting with excitement to get out on our favorite trails throughout the county. Please remember that many trails around the county are still closed, so do some research before you go. Fortunately, Eagle Valley Land Trust’s Community Land Connection Series has you covered.

Join EVLT and partners all spring, summer, and fall for programs on protected land throughout the county. The series kicks off this Earth Day, April 22, with a nature break at Eagle River Preserve in Edwards with the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement and Nurtured By Nature Forest Therapy. The hike will explore Eagle River Preserve’s natural elements and the benefits of slowing down to recharge in nature. The Eagle River Preserve is permanently conserved thanks to a partnership between Eagle County Open Space and the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

Other hikes in the series include the Horn Ranch Historical Tour and the Harrington’s Penstemon Hike in May and June, respectively.

Back by popular demand, the Community Land Connection Series will also include two restoration projects (July and August) to assist landowners in improving and restoring their conserved lands.

To RSVP for EVLT’s Community Land Connection Series hikes and restoration projects, email or call EVLT at (970) 748-7654.

Jessica Foulis is the stewardship and outreach manager at the Eagle Valley Land Trust. She can be reached at EVLT is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more information about the Eagle Valley Land Trust and how it is conserving land and benefiting the community, visit

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