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Fish and Wildlife Habitat Protection

Pine trees and scenic, close up view of a snow covered ski run at Beaver Creek

As the resort's founders planned Beaver Creek and the surrounding village, they took into account how to protect the wildlife and even improve the habitat. Initial habitat programs included the preservation of a three thousand-acre parcel of land near Stone Creek on the eastern edge of the mountain, identification and preservation of specific elk calving corridors, ski area boundary identification buffers, gladed runs and tree islands interspersed among wider runs, and air and water monitoring and maintenance systems.

Resort planners and operators took wildlife habitat protection into account throughout the construction process and operating plan. Construction was restricted in areas to minimize wildlife disruption and to coincide with elk calving. Each year, the resort’s operating dates and posted closures reflect sensitivity to wildlife. In conjunction with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, sensitive areas remain closed from May 1st through July 1st for elk calving season.

Trails were designed on Beaver Creek Mountain with fish and wildlife habitat in mind. Many of the trails are studded with tree islands that offer protection to both small and large mammals as they cross the open runs. Trails are re-vegetated with native grasses after any disturbance to reduce soil erosion and waterbars are placed periodically to slow down spring runoff.

To maintain stream flows on Beaver Creek, the resort pumps water uphill from the Eagle River to replenish Beaver Creek in an effort to protect aquatic life. Beaver Creek Resort constructed a reservoir near the top of the mountain that holds 127 acre-feet, or approximately 41,000,000 gallons, of water. This reservoir is filled in the spring by snowmelt and runoff and is stored until the beginning of the following winter to be used for snowmaking. The benefit of using water from the reservoir is that it reduces the amount of water diverted from streams during sensitive times of the year. When consistent flows are maintained, fish and aquatic habitat are better off.

Among the many other stipulations to help protect the very important wildlife at Beaver Creek is the control of dogs. In a proactive move, resort officials banned dogs in the village for resort guests and full time residents must adhere to strict leash laws and control ordinances.

In fairness to the resort’s winged population, Beaver Creek adopted two programs specifically targeted toward birds, though many of the area’s small critters have benefited as well. Beaver Creek established a program that left naturally dead, noninfested trees, or snags, standing upon the mountain. These snags were subsequently utilized by the resort’s feathered population as ideal nesting and perching locations. This program addressed both the disruptive need for extraction methods and demonstrated a sensitivity to the resort’s resident wildlife.

In addition to these natural perching and nesting facilities, the resort went a step further. During the spring of 1999, Beaver Creek Resort, with much assistance from Eagle County Boy Scout troops and Forest Service representatives, built 50 nesting boxes designed specifically for the Native Mountain Bluebird. Resort environmentalists identified studies showing that Native Mountain Bluebird populations had been decreasing in Colorado due to logging of forests, and competing cavity nesters (Tree Swallows and Violet-Green Swallows). Upon completion these boxes were placed on Beaver Creek Mountain in habitats favorable to the bluebird.

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