Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project
A Greenback Cutthroat Trout in Bear Creek in the fall of 2014. Photo credit: Josh Nehring, Senior Aquatic Biologist, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Research published in 2012 revealed that the fish in Bear Creek are the sole remaining genetically pure self-sustaining population of greenback cutthroat trout. The population is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will evaluate these findings and conduct a status review to determine if the population should be listed as endangered. Concerns about the vulnerability of the fish prompted an Environmental Assessment to find a solution to protect the fish while allowing for appropriate and sustainable recreation in this very popular area. The assessment was complete, and implementation started in 2016.
The alternative selected from the Environmental Assessment is disclosed in the Final Decision document. The full project analysis is found in the Environmental Assessment. Both documents can be found under the related documents section below.
The Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project began on-the-ground work in 2016 and work will continue for the foreseeable future. The project protects the greenback cutthroat trout (greenback) while allowing for appropriate and sustainable recreation in this very popular area.
- Retained 15.5 miles of existing trail in the project area.
- Built 6.4 miles of new sustainable trail.
- Incorporated 1.7 miles of Buckhorn and Palmer non-system trails into the National Forest System.
- Closed and decommissioned portions of the old Bear Creek and Captain Jacks Trails. This closure removed 1.7 miles of trail from the water influence zone of Bear Creek and its trubutaries.
- Stream and hillslope improvements made to reduce sedimentation with extra focus on old trail crossings.
- Willows planted to stabilize stream banks.
- Instream habitat improvement along High Drive.
- Repaired and improved drainage on High Drive to reduce sedimentation into Bear Creek.
- Converted High Drive to administrative use only for motorized traffic.
- Instituted a regulation to prohibit public access off system routes, over-snow vehicles, and camping in the Bear Creek Basin.
- Instituted a regulation to prohibit open fires within the project area. (PSICC-2022-15).
- Instituted a regulation banning people and domestic animals (i.e. dogs, horses, pack animals, etc.) from entering or being in Bear Creek. (PSICC-2022-15).
- Institue a regulation requiring domestic animals to be leashed or harnessed on Trail 666 (Bear Creek) and the Mount Buckhorn Connector Trail. (PSICC-2022-15).
- Monitoring of trail conditions and user activity.
- Trail maintenance of all system trails.
- Reinforcing closures.
- Closure and decomissioning of illegal trails.
- Annual sedimentation monitoring.
Captain Jack's Area Trail System