Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life is Hard When You're a Baby Elk - New Life in RMNP

Early June is when most of the babies of RMNP arrive. After birth the elk calf spends most of its time hiding in grass or near bushes and following it's mother as she grazes. Nature is momentarily kind during the elks' first week of life - the baby doesn't produce a scent for nearly a week to help allude predators. This reprive is short lived though, as June is a calf's most dangerous time when predators like coyotes are prowling the edges of elk herds looking for a baby hiding in the grass. Generally the mothers form very small herds and the calves start playing with other calves, learning how elk life works. From birth until mid-July the calf will drink about a gallon of milk a day gaining two to three pounds a day. Life gets even harder just a few weeks, or sometimes only days after birth, as the elk herds start to move up to the tundra and the calf has to hike miles gaining 5,000feet of elevation to start enjoying the tundra's sweet grass. Luckily, each calf has plenty of babysitters with the rest of the elk herd watching after them. Parents, when your child whines about a walk around Bear Lake, just remind them "At least you aren't a baby elk!"

Blog Post by Jared Gricoskie of Yellow Wood Guiding. If you would like a private tour of Rocky Mountain National Park (perhaps even catch a glimpse of these elk calves!), contact Jared at YWGuiding.com.

To book your Estes Park vacation, visit Estes-Park.com. Here you'll find the best information on lodging and activities for your Rocky Mountain National Park adventure.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

You Call this Spring? Update on Trail Ridge Road

The weather and extended forecast has changed some ... since we scheduled our Media Day for snowplowing efforts on Trail Ridge Road! Due to the recent snowstorm and current weather forecast, we will be postponing our media day scheduled for tomorrow.

Currently there is 3 to 4 feet of snow above Rainbow Curve and wind with gusts up to 55 mph above Many Parks Curve. There is 2 inches of ice on the road between Many Parks Curve and Rainbow Curve. The snow and wind is supposed to continue through this evening at higher elevations. The sun aids in our efforts to clear Trail Ridge Road and we might not see it again until tomorrow morning sometime!

We want to keep all of us safe (and reasonably warm) during media day and provide some great visuals for you as well. We will see what happens over the weekend - weather and equipment wise - and touch base with you all early next week.

Thanks for your patience. It's Springtime in the Rockies! What were we
thinking scheduling our media day for Friday the 13th? :-)

- Kyle from the N.P.S.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Good News for Fishermen: Update from the NPS

Long Draw Reservoir Decision Promotes Native Fish Recovery

The National Park Service has approved a "Record of Decision" associated with the Long Draw Reservoir Special Use Authorization issued by the US Forest Service to Water Supply and Storage Company of Fort Collins, Colorado. Long Draw Reservoir is located on National Forest System land, and Water Supply and Storage Company needs the reservoir to provide water for irrigation in Larimer and Weld counties. The reservoir is located approximately 35 air miles west of Fort Collins, in Larimer County.

This decision is being made in conjunction with the Forest Service’s decision to apply terms and conditions to the 30-year authorization for Long Draw Reservoir and is necessary for the Forest Service to implement the selected alternative. The National Park Service, as a cooperating agency, is approving implementation of native greenback cutthroat trout restoration in the headwaters of the Cache la Poudre River within Rocky Mountain National Park by the Forest Service, Water Supply and Storage Company, and their project partners, with oversight provided by the National Park Service. In addition to the activities associated with implementation of the terms and conditions for the Long Draw reservoir authorization, the National Park Service will implement native fish restoration in Cascade Creek.

The Forest Service is the lead agency for this project because Long Draw Reservoir is on National Forest System lands. The National Park Service is a cooperating agency on this project because impacts from the operations of Long Draw Reservoir affect lands within Rocky Mountain National Park, which is managed by the National Park Service, and the alternative selected for implementation proposes actions within the park. Greenback cutthroat trout restoration was identified by both agencies as the preferred alternative and the environmentally preferred alternative in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The alternative selected by the National Park Service includes the construction of natural-appearing fish barriers on several Cache la Poudre headwater streams, the removal of non-native fish above the barriers and stocking the streams with native greenback cutthroat trout. The barriers are needed to keep non-native fish from invading the restored cutthroat habitat.

Eventually the man-made barriers will be removed and the cutthroat habitat will form one interconnected system above a natural waterfall on the main stem of the Cache la Poudre River. The interconnection of habitat will create what biologists call a “metapopulation” of greenback cutthroat trout. It is anticipated that it could take 20 years to establish the metapopulation.

The Record of Decision includes a description of the background of the project; a statement of the decision made including key actions and mitigating measures/monitoring to minimize environmental harm; the basis for the decision; an overview of public involvement and agency consultation in the decision-making process; a description of other alternatives considered; a description of the environmentally preferred alternative; and a findings on impairment of park resources and values.

To plan your RMNP fishing vacation, be sure to visit www.Estes-Park.com.

For further information about the decision including a copy of the record of decision, visit the National Park Service website http://parkplanning.nps.gov/romo, or call the park’s Information Office at
(970) 586-1206.