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The Science Behind Wildlife Corridors & Vail Pass
Join Walking Mountains Science Center and researchers with the Colorado Corridors Project for a moderate day hike up Wilder Gulch, near Vail Pass. Learn about the Vail Pass Wildlife Byway, and how citizen scientists are helping gather crucial data in the effort to build safe wildlife passages across, and under, I-70. This moderate hike will take you from the shoulders of I-70 up to Ptarmigan Pass, above tree line, and in the heart of the White River National Forest. Along the trail we will learn about why this area is so important to our valley’s iconic wildlife species and what is being done to help protect these species for the future. This moderate hike is 7 miles round trip, with 1,300 feet of elevation gain.
The Colorado Corridors Project is an initiative of Rocky Mountain Wild and Denver Zoo to engage volunteers in wildlife monitoring at the Vail Pass Wildlife Byway proposed wildlife crossing structure locations. The Vail Pass Wildlife Byway on Interstate 70, between Copper Mountain Resort and the top of Vail Pass, has long been identified as an important movement corridor for wildlife in Colorado. Encompassed entirely by the White River National Forest, this area is an important habitat for many wildlife species, including elk, mule deer and one of the few known breeding populations of Canada lynx in Colorado outside the southwest corner of the state. Yet wildlife movement and habitat in the area are at risk due to the heavy traffic volumes on I-70, up to 22,000 vehicles on an average day. This much traffic presents a significant barrier to wildlife, with many animals no longer attempting to cross the roadway, or doing so unsuccessfully. To restore connectivity in the area, three wildlife crossing structures – one overpass and two underpasses – have been recommended to allow for the safe passage of wildlife over or under I-70 in the Vail Pass Wildlife Byway.
Date: July 19, 2020
Time: 9am – 3pm
Location: Wilder Pass Trail, Vail Pass
Transportation: Transportation from Walking Mountains Science Center, or meet at Vail Pass
Price: FREE (or $10 for transportation), pre-registration is required
6 miles, 800 ft (to end of trail) (5 hour program)
Peak Elevation: 11,700 ft.