Some trails in Bear Creek Park could be closed to help protect what the U.S. Forest Service calls the last known habitat of Colorado’s endangered native greenback cutthroat trout.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Senior Aquatic Biologist Doug Krieger says Bear Creek is home to between 500 and 700 greenback cutthroat trout that have adapted to this particular stream.
"They’re in a drainage that has a fair amount of sedimentation, some of that’s coming off of the trail system and so the habitat for that fish is threatened by sedimentation," Krieger said. "So you lose spawning areas, you lose depth in pools that these fish need for surviving during cold winter months and also during the heat of the summer."
After 2012 genetic testing showed these trout to have unique genetic composition, efforts to protect the area were intensified.
The Trails and Open Space Coalition has expressed concern about the potential closure and rerouting of the trails, saying it’s critical that whatever plan is put into place that it’s a compromise between trail users and watershed management.