Crater Trail Environmental Assessment Newsletter
Rocky Mountain National Park is considering options for management of the Crater Trail, which originates near Milner Pass and extends to above tree line east of the Continental Divide. Park staff will be preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) and invites public input in advance of preparation of the EA. The Crater Trail in its current configuration is resulting in harm to park resources and is not sustainable from a trail construction and maintenance perspective. The public scoping process has begun and comments are invited through October 3, 2016. The EA will analyze a range of alternatives to meet project objectives, evaluate issues and impacts on park resources and values, and identify mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.
The Crater Trail is a one-mile-long trail on the east side of Specimen Mountain. It differs from other trails in the park in that it is an informal route that was not designed and constructed, but developed over time. As a result, the trail is steep and severely eroded in sections, impacting the alpine tundra and cultural resources. The trail is in designated wilderness and is part of the Specimen Mountain Research Natural Area. The trail is typically closed annually from May to August 15 during the bighorn lambing season. For the past two years, the Crater Trail has been closed year 'round pending the outcome of the EA process.
Preliminary options that have been identified for management of the trail and surrounding area include reconstructing the trail within the current alignment, rerouting the trail to a less steep gradient, or permanently closing the trail. Also under consideration is allowing continued use of the current trail and implementing minor improvements within the limits of the existing trail maintenance program (the no action alternative). If the trail or segments of the trail were abandoned due to reroutes or closure, abandoned trail segments would be restored to natural conditions through active replanting or natural revegetation.
The attached newsletter provides further information about the project, along with maps and photographs of the project area.
09/01/2016 - 10/03/2016
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