UPDATE: Motorcycle group leader not giving up on Captain Jack's

Posted by J. Adrian Stanley on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 4:47 PM

It's the end of an era for local off-road motorcyclists.

The U.S. Forest Service will close Captain Jack's trail and other trails in the Bear Creek watershed to motorized vehicles on Monday. The closure comes on judicial order after an environmental group sued. Connecting trails owned by Colorado Springs Utilities will also close.

From the Forest Service:

U.S. FOREST SERVICE TO IMPLEMENT TEMPORARY TRAIL CLOSURE IN BEAR CREEK WATERSHED MONDAY

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Dec. 7, 2012 — The U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Pike National Forest — Pikes Peak Ranger District is temporarily prohibiting motorized vehicles on USFS trails within the Bear Creek Watershed in El Paso County. The Order will go into effect on Monday, December 10 and remain closed until the conditions of the Settlement Agreement are met.

The following National Forest System Trails (NFST) are restricted:
• NFST 665 in its entirety
• NFST 667 from its junction with High Drive to its junction with NFST 701
• NFST 668 in its entirety
• NFST 701 in its entirety
• NFST 720 from its junction with NFST 701 to its junction with NFST 668

The Order is issued according to the terms of a Stipulated Settlement Agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the USFS entered in U.S. District Court. The CBD filed a lawsuit on September 17, 2012 citing violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) related to authorization of existing Off Road Vehicle (OHV) trails within the Bear Creek Watershed.

The public may continue to enjoy access to the area through the non-motorized trails which remain open. In addition, miles of motorized trails are available for recreational use throughout the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC).

For further information call the Pikes Peak Ranger District office at 719-636-1602, or access the PSICC webpage at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/. Navigate to “Alerts and Warnings” to read Order 12-21 and view a map of the closure area: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/psicc/alerts-notices/?aid=15778

Violators of this prohibition are punishable as a class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations or by imprisonment of not more than (6) months or both.

From Utilities:

Motorized vehicle access to Jones Park trails closed after USFS legal settlement

Dec. 7, 2012 — In response to U.S. Forest Service trail closures resulting from a recent legal settlement between the U.S. Forest Service and the Center for Biological Diversity, Colorado Springs Utilities is closing motorized access to connecting trails on land owned by the City of Colorado Springs and managed by Colorado Springs Utilities. Specifically, motorized access to all trails that occur in the Bear Creek watershed in an area known as Jones Park, including trails 622, 622A, 667, 668, 701, 720 and 720A. See map for trail locations, will be prohibited.

“Because of the location of Jones Park trails, the action taken by the U.S. Forest Service effectively closes motorized access to Jones Park as well,” said Kirsta Scherff-Norris, Wildlife Biologist for Colorado Springs Utilities. “We believe the responsible course of action is to temporarily suspend motorized access to ensure that we do not inadvertently encourage continued use.”

The temporary closure begins Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. The area will remain closed until an assessment of the watershed is completed and any associated land management changes are determined. The process is being led by the U.S. Forest Service and in collaboration with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, and Colorado Springs Utilities. The assessment is scheduled for completion in early 2013.

The public is invited to participate in the assessment process to determine the best long-term sustainable management of the watershed.

For details about USFS actions and planned public involvement, please contact Oscar Martinez, Ecosystem Staff Officer, at 719-553-1400.


——- ORIGINAL POST, Nov. 28, 7:42 A.M. ——-

The greenback cutthroat trout

In today's paper, we report that trails in the Bear Creek watershed, including the popular Captain Jack’s trail, will soon close to motorcycles and off-road vehicles.

The move is a result of a legal settlement between the U.S. Forest Service, which owns much of the area’s land, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The latter believes that closure is necessary to protect Bear Creek as a habitat for the threatened greenback cutthroat trout.

Of all those affected by the ban, Ned Suesse, trail coordinator for the Colorado Motorcycle Trail Riders Association, is among those who fought hardest to keep the Bear Creek trails open. Reached by e-mail, he sent the following reply:

I'm out of the country and mostly offline, but I have kept up with the general state of things. The settlement is not yet final, but in my opinion, it continues a long line of faulty reasoning. However, I am somewhat optimistic that it will open the door to a proper study of the watershed that can conclude with a responsible decision.

The facts show that the large majority of sedimentation from a trail owes to the existence of the trail, not its use. So, if the trail is unsustainable for motorized use, it is most likely also unsustainable for non-motorized use- anyone who has been in the watershed during a rainstorm can see how that works. So, closing the trail to motorized use does not represent a solution to sedimentation in the stream, and this settlement does not represent a solution for the trout.

The Center's press release on the settlement is below:

Agreement Will Protect Colorado's Rare Greenback Cutthroat Trout

Motorcycles to Be Prohibited Along Only Creek Inhabited by State Fish

DENVER— The Center for Biological Diversity and the Pike and San Isabel National Forest signed a settlement agreement today that will help protect the only creek in the world inhabited by rare greenback cutthroat trout, Colorado’s state fish. The agreement prohibits motorcycles and off-road vehicles from trails along Bear Creek, just outside of Colorado Springs, and resolves a lawsuit filed by the Center in September.

“We’re so glad the Forest Service agreed to do the right thing and protect the only place in the world where greenback cutthroat trout still live in the wild,” said Tim Ream, a Center attorney. “This endangered fish has been hanging on by a thread for decades. The last thing it needs is motorcycles tearing through its only home and filling the creek with sediment.”

Greenback cutthroat trout have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1978. A DNA study earlier this year determined that Bear Creek hosted the last pure and wild population of the fish. For years, though, off-road vehicles have been severely eroding Bear Creek Canyon’s steep slopes. The runoff harms water quality and is filling in deep pools that the fish use to hide from predators and survive winters and droughts.

Under the terms of the agreement filed in federal court today in Denver, the Forest Service is required to prohibit off-road vehicles on nearly all of the five trails that run through the Bear Creek watershed. Before any part of those closed trails can be reopened, the Forest Service will have to consult, as required by the Endangered Species Act, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that trail use would not harm the threatened fish.

“I am so happy that greenback cutthroat trout are finally getting the respect they deserve,” said Jack Hunter, a longtime Colorado Springs resident and advocate for greenback. “This was a known problem for the trout for years, but thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity, Bear Creek is finally getting real protection.”

The Forest Service also plans to complete a comprehensive assessment of the watershed that could result in additional changes to protect the fragile stream. While the settlement agreement does not include the Colorado Springs Utility, closure of the Forest Service trails in Bear Creek effectively closes all access by motorcycles to the Utility’s Jones Park land. Access by hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders is not affected by the agreement.

“This is a tremendous victory for the greenback cutthroat trout and the state of Colorado,” said Ream. “With today’s agreement, the state’s fish has a shot at survival.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Comments (19)

Showing 1-19 of 19

The wilderness does not need motorized vehicles running around spewing gas fumes, digging trenches, and creating run off...conflicting with wild life and humans.

report 9 likes, 23 dislikes   
Posted by TejonTech on 11/28/2012 at 10:10 AM

the forestry dept does not own the land. we the people do. the fish police care for our land, get it right.

report 0 likes, 18 dislikes   
Posted by mike on 11/28/2012 at 4:01 PM

This trail has been open to motorcycles for 50 years and your special fish has survived a half century of our evil motorcycles. By this theory...that this fish has survived 50 years of motorcycle abuse and its the "only" creek known that this fish can survive, then we should open all creekside trails to motorized travel. This is simply another bulk of lies by tree huggers to close public land.

report 20 likes, 9 dislikes   
Posted by ihatetreehuggers on 12/06/2012 at 10:59 AM

teh noise and air pollution and destruction needs to stop...plus it is better exercise to hike or bike

report 8 likes, 23 dislikes   
Posted by TejonTech on 12/06/2012 at 12:23 PM

Really TejonTech? People like you are the most inconsiderate, selfish and greedy people I have ever dealt with. The Captain Jack trail system is the ONLY trail open to motorcycles in ALL of El Paso County. How many trails do you have in the county for hiking and biking? I would bet well over 100 and we have 1 and now it's forced to close over a bogus argument about a stupid fish. Ill hike my ass up there and eat one just to piss you off.

Here is an idea. If you don't like the pollution and noise, THEN STAY OFF OUR TRAIL AND GO HIKE ONE OF THE 100+ THAT ARE DESIGNATED FOR YOUR TYPE OF USE! If you don't agree with that you snob, then put earplugs in and get over it.

The fact is, inconsiderate people like you who think your way is the only way need to be stopped. The more trails you close forces more motor traffic on the only ones left open. This leads to the closure of those trails down the road due to over usage. If our trails are all closed up, we are not going to just sell off our bikes and quit the sport. We will fight back and ride the trails anyway, and make new ones without any control by government or the public. Having designated trails for motorized use is important or the end result is chaos. Continued closures lead to heavy traffic and safety issues for us. Most of us obey the signs that say "no motorized use" and we stay away. Do you really think that will continue if everything closes up? If you do, you are in for a big surprise.

The majority of motorcyclists are very considerate to others. We take care of our trails, we fund many organizations that maintain the trails and we clean up after ourselves. There are a few that don't, but there are also many hikers and mountain bikers that leave trash, shoot guns and leave ammo and are pigs in general.

You will never get rid of the idiots and you’re an example. It's people like us, responsible riders that clean up and maintain these trails. If it weren't for us, you would not have these trail systems. Many of them were created by dirt bikes, and are now closed to us but exist for your entertainment. We all have a right to enjoy public land, You have your right to enjoy public land in a quiet environment free from dirt bikes. We should also have the right to enjoy our trails free from ignorant people like you who think the world should suddenly adopt the same opinions and beliefs as you have.

I will respect this closure and will stay off the trail until a final outcome. I am hoping we can re-route the trail system to keep both sides of this argument happy. This is reasonable. If however the trail system closes without anything to take its place, well then I will wave to you as i ride by with a smile on my face. Screw your fish.

And for those that think dirt bikes are not exercise, I enjoy all three activities and nothing compares to the physical demands of riding a dirt bike. There is no comparison, but you would not know that TejonTech because you have never done it, or at least done it with any skill behind it. Here is yet another example of your ignorance.

report 25 likes, 9 dislikes   
Posted by ihatetreehuggers on 12/06/2012 at 8:57 PM

Really TejonTech? People like you are the most inconsiderate, selfish and greedy people I have ever dealt with. The Captain Jack trail system is the ONLY trail open to motorcycles in ALL of El Paso County. How many trails do you have in the county for hiking and biking? I would bet well over 100 and we have 1 and now it's forced to close over a bogus argument about a stupid fish. Ill hike my ass up there and eat one just to piss you off.

Here is an idea. If you don't like the pollution and noise, THEN STAY OFF OUR TRAIL AND GO HIKE ONE OF THE 100+ THAT ARE DESIGNATED FOR YOUR TYPE OF USE! If you don't agree with that you snob, then put earplugs in and get over it.

The fact is, inconsiderate people like you who think your way is the only way need to be stopped. The more trails you close forces more motor traffic on the only ones left open. This leads to the closure of those trails down the road due to over usage. If our trails are all closed up, we are not going to just sell off our bikes and quit the sport. We will fight back and ride the trails anyway, and make new ones without any control by government or the public. Having designated trails for motorized use is important or the end result is chaos. Continued closures lead to heavy traffic and safety issues for us. Most of us obey the signs that say "no motorized use" and we stay away. Do you really think that will continue if everything closes up? If you do, you are in for a big surprise.

The majority of motorcyclists are very considerate to others. We take care of our trails, we fund many organizations that maintain the trails and we clean up after ourselves. There are a few that don't, but there are also many hikers and mountain bikers that leave trash, shoot guns and leave ammo and are pigs in general.

You will never get rid of the idiots and you’re an example. It's people like us, responsible riders that clean up and maintain these trails. If it weren't for us, you would not have these trail systems. Many of them were created by dirt bikes, and are now closed to us but exist for your entertainment. We all have a right to enjoy public land, You have your right to enjoy public land in a quiet environment free from dirt bikes. We should also have the right to enjoy our trails free from ignorant people like you who think the world should suddenly adopt the same opinions and beliefs as you have.

I will respect this closure and will stay off the trail until a final outcome. I am hoping we can re-route the trail system to keep both sides of this argument happy. This is reasonable. If however the trail system closes without anything to take its place, well then I will wave to you as i ride by with a smile on my face. Screw your fish.

And for those that think dirt bikes are not exercise, I enjoy all three activities and nothing compares to the physical demands of riding a dirt bike. There is no comparison, but you would not know that TejonTech because you have never done it, or at least done it with any skill behind it. Here is yet another example of your ignorance.

report 18 likes, 7 dislikes   
Posted by ihatetreehuggers on 12/06/2012 at 9:07 PM

sorry, posted twice due to computer error.

report 9 likes, 4 dislikes   
Posted by ihatetreehuggers on 12/06/2012 at 9:09 PM

Curious why the DOW doesn't simply catch some of the cutthroats, breed them at a hatchery, and restore them to the creeks where they naturally lived, rather than support legal efforts to protect them in a stream where they were artificially introduced. All the legal fees expended so far might have covered this cost.

report 10 likes, 2 dislikes   
Posted by Angus Podgorney on 12/08/2012 at 8:07 AM

Angus, they spent decades attempting to re-introduce the Greenback Cutthroat to their native rivers and were very successful, so your idea has merit even if it's not original.

Only problem was, they actually screwed up and introduced the WRONG species of Cutthroat. So, yes, it's entirely possible they could do this again, but this time they need to make sure they do it with the correct species.

report 5 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by MTBfan on 12/08/2012 at 9:09 AM

People, your missing one very important point. When you close an area to "motorized vehicles" you are shutting out those who are confined to a "motorized" wheelchair or who do not have the strenth to propel themselves on some of these trails. You also have shut out some of the elderly from enjoying the great outdoors. You have thus tried to protrey yourselves as being better then other people because now you have exclusive use of these areas and no longer have to be bothered by those not as able as you. I think Hitler tried the same thing.

report 5 likes, 3 dislikes   
Posted by corvair3 on 12/08/2012 at 12:30 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong but this is not an indigenous species? Shouldn't we be working to remove it since it isn't "natural"? It was "introduced" in the 1800s. Clearly, settlers were being irresponsible and we should correct this issue.

report 4 likes, 6 dislikes   
Posted by JW on 12/08/2012 at 1:39 PM

The big problem in Colorado Springs, and always has been...when these sections get closed on Pikes Peak, they become the private play ground of local government officials who even now camp, fish, ride motorcycles and generally enjoy having a key to our property from which we are locked out.

Just hang around with any utility higher ups a while and you will hear fish stories of the best fishing in our state...the reservoirs around Pikes Peak.

Ask Mayor Steve if he has ever been up there to stay in a cabin, cast a line, or four wheel around...the answer for him and all our other self appointed dignitaries is yes...they run this city as their own private club.

If you are lucky enough to live on one of their streets, they will always be plowed, sanded, and then swept while the rest of the city is still filled with ice and pot holes.

report 6 likes, 3 dislikes   
Posted by TejonTech on 12/08/2012 at 5:29 PM

Folks, the problem here isn't the fish. Nor is the problem the motorcycles, hikers, mountain bike riders or horseback riders.

The problem is the Center for Biological Diversity. This group is a radical, environmentalist, out of state organization. The CBD is the problem.

One study that would be incredibly interesting is what condition the stream and the fish would be in without all of the volunteer work and hundreds of thousands of dollars put into the trails, bridges and streams. Fact of the matter is, without the work from motorcyclists and the vast amount of funding from the OHV Fund, the trout might have died off long ago.

So the CBD has successfully closed the trail and hense.....cut off the funding to keep the area in great shape. Now they will run back to Oregon, with the win in their hip pocket, and won't offer a single American Dollar to really help the trout.

The CBD is a radical selfish group that only cares for their own agenda. If they really cared, let's see the CBD offer up a couple hundred thousand bucks to work on the stream!!!

report 14 likes, 5 dislikes   
Posted by John the Hiker and Biker and Fisherman on 12/09/2012 at 3:40 PM

The sediment that is hypothesized to pose a threat to the greenback is a direct result of storm runoff carrying erodible decomposed granitic soils from a steep drainage that has relatively sparse to moderate vegetative undergrowth that could help slow runoff. The trail itself, if not designed and managed properly, can increase the sedimentation into the creek through channelization of flows which increase hydraulic velocity and erosive activity. Certainly, it cannot be argued that the activities of varying user groups affect the trail differently.

I personally enjoy many aspects of the Colorado outdoors, including hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, ice climbing, mountain biking, and gasp...dirt biking. I also grew up on a ranch and know the impacts left by horses. I have seen the boom of popularity of "low impact hiking" the 14ers and the negative impact of social trails causing severe damage and erosion. I have seen the erosion caused caused by mountain bikes as they ride the brakes down steep hills and cause further channelization of the trail. I have seen and followed horse tracks that cause severe trail damage during wet conditions. In other words, the trail itself, in addition to ALL user groups contribute to the "sedimentation" of the creek, as hypothesized by the CBD.

The CRMTRA motorcycle club has shown many, many years of responsible maintenance of the Captain Jacks and Jones Park trail systems that these other user groups have enjoyed the benefit of. If a responsible, organized party is not to be entrusted with maintenance of these recreational trail systems, who is? Will the local chapter of the Colorado Mountain Club be as vigilant? Will the local mountain bike club? Will the local equestrian center? Will the Forest Service/DOW/CBD monitor the levels in sedimentation as the closure happens, first immediately as a baseline, and moving on into the future? If not, then the trail should be closed to ALL user groups, and the trail "eliminated" so that the creek is restored to its natural condition to protect the fish.

report 11 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by John, the Climber, Hiker, Mtn Biker, Dirt Biker, and Horseman on 12/11/2012 at 9:41 AM

Poaching this trail will cost you dollars and jail time... Game cameras have been placed at the trailhead s and throughout the trail system.

report 0 likes, 5 dislikes   
Posted by Ja Hun on 12/13/2012 at 6:55 PM

We live in westminster. We drive to jack's 2-3 time a year. We stop and have breakfast in town,gas up,buy stuff for the day and have dinner on the way out of town at the end of the day.I like jack's a lot. but I will find a new place to ride, I will no longer spend my money in COLORADO SPRINGS. It was fun while it lasted.P.S.We have been riding Jack's for over 15 years.YOU LOSE.

report 5 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by buzzsaw on 02/13/2013 at 10:00 PM

Is there going to be any ongoing trail maintenance? I've been up there during some large washouts and luckily there were groups of OHV funded people fixing the issues. Some ruts were a foot across and about a foot and a half deep (and ran for several hundred feet). Is the "Center for Biological Diversity" going to show us metrics here in the next several years regarding the explosive growth of the fish or? Chances are, they aren't going to stick around do anything. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I've ridden the trail for over 25 years so I know it backwards and forwards; luckily I've recorded it with my GoPro camera because I knew eventually they would find a way to close it.

report 4 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by Allan C. on 05/13/2013 at 3:15 PM

CBD is a freakin joke. I hope the PPRD study concludes that the trail can remain open. I'm so pissed off that I can't ride there anymore.

report 4 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by Ryan Wolfe on 07/27/2013 at 4:22 PM

What a shame. I've ridden the Captain Jack/Jones Park trail on motorcycle since I was a kid back in the early seventies. The trail always amazed me how well it held up, before it got popular, before the environmentalists moved in. So now it's "protected"?, to the point of having trail cams mounted to prosecute. You environmentalists are a bunch of selfish pricks, to say the least. You started ruining the place way back when, popularizing the "Don't Californicate Colorado" bumper stickers, when they first came out. Instead of driving in from out of state and spending my money, I'll go elsewhere. But then I wrote Colorado off a long time ago...

report 4 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by Jim on 12/09/2014 at 8:45 AM
Showing 1-19 of 19

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