Cedar Beauregard: New bike trails are destroying elk habitat | SteamboatToday.com

Cedar Beauregard: New bike trails are destroying elk habitat

One man’s pot of gold is another man’s bucket of tar sands, and more importantly, the population of elks’ strip mine.

As I visit my beloved elk country this fall bowhunting, I have come to a very sad realization. The new bike trail construction in the valley is the largest destruction of elk habitat in this region that I have witnessed in my lifetime. I know that’s a powerful statement, but I wholeheartedly feel it to be true.

Unfortunately, elk are very sensitive to consistent disturbance by humans. They simply won’t tolerate it and have to leave. No exceptions.

So, those families of elk that have been raising their young in the serene golden aspen scenery for thousands of generations have been displaced. Displaced being the politically correct term for "eliminating a population from existence."

The thing is wild animals’ population size is limited by the habitat they exist in. Eliminate the habitat, and you displace that living generation without killing them, but you have completely eliminated the lineage of that population, in essence killed multiple future generations.

I even believe these trails are more destructive than sprawl and development as people in their homes minding their own business co-exist with elk much better than a deluge of wheeling bikes through the forest itself.

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I know riding through the fern beds in the golden aspen forest is an exhilarating experience, but just know, your presence alone is like dumping tar sands in the living room, bedroom and kitchen of the elks’ only home.

Please realize this, and remember, as we plan these trails in the future, there are inhabitants that live in these wild places that have zero tolerance for our presence. They may not have a voice in the planning, but we, as a people, need to feel in our hearts their needs as well.

Cedar Beauregard

Steamboat Springs