By Tom Mustin
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Residents in Ken Caryl Ranch say a new proposed three-mile trail will threaten the habitat of Golden Eagles in the area. The trail will be located a half-mile from a large nest near Lockheed Martin.
Experts at Colorado State University say Golden Eagles are very sensitive to human activity. Biologist Dave Anderson told CBS4’s Tom Mustin that he believes the new trail will likely push the eagles out of their current location.
The Ken Caryl Ranch Master Association says they’ve had their own consultants conduct raptor surveys. They’ve found that it is “unlikely” the eagles nest will be disturbed. Residents we spoke with disagreed.
“A lot of people are up in arms,” said Ken Caryl Ranch resident Heidi Werth.
Werth says the new trail planned for her Ken Caryl Ranch neighborhood is for the birds.
“It’s pretty frustrating to say the least,” she told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.
Werth lives in the Manor Ridge neighborhood located a half-mile from a massive nest housing a family of Golden Eagles.
“The nest looks like it could be like a little car. The size of this nest is truly amazing,” said Werth.
Heidi says she and her neighbors are outraged after the homeowners board approved a new three-mile trail that encroaches on the eagle’s home off Docmann Trail, near Lockheed Martin.
“If we continue to fragment our foraging areas for these beautiful birds, they will leave,” she said.
Golden Eagles are extremely sensitive to human activity. Dave Anderson with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program at Colorado State told Mustin the proposed trail will “likely push the eagles off the location.”
Residents already have access to numerous trails for joggers and bikers. Werth says complaints to the board have fallen on deaf ears.
“We have 45 miles of trails. Do we really need three more to mess with a beautiful creature?” asked Werth.
The Ken Caryl Ranch Master Association sent CBS4 a statement stating that the new trail “strikes the right balance of recreation and conservation.” They say the trail is outside the half-mile disturbance buffer and the eagles are “likely habituated to human activity, given the nest’s proximity to the Lockheed Martin facility.”
Meanwhile, Werth says she moved to Ken Caryl to be closer to nature. Before her Golden Eagle neighbors fly the coup, she’s hoping the board will reconsider.
“Please stop. Listen to the experts and listen to the residents.”
The Ken Caryl Ranch Master Association says it is committed to preserving and protecting the Golden eagles. Outside consultants were hired to evaluate the trail. The proposed trail is slated to be opened sometime in 2018.
Ken Caryl Ranch Master Association Executive Director Chris Pacetti released this statement: “The Ken-Caryl Ranch Master Association strives to create a balance between natural resource protection and the desire for outdoor recreation in our open space. As part of the trails implementation process, outside consultants were hired to do a raptor survey, cultural survey and rare plant survey for the area in which the Docmann Trail is proposed. After reviewing the surveys, changes to the original proposed trail alignment were made to preserve significant intact portions of habitat while allowing recreation in this part of our open space. Regarding the Golden Eagle nest, the Ken-Caryl Ranch Master Association is committed to preserving and protecting the Golden Eagles. According to the raptor survey completed by ERO Resources, “The proposed trail alignment is unlikely to disturb eagle nesting because it is outside of the CPW recommended 0.5 mile disturbance buffer and because the eagles are likely habituated to human activity, given the nest’s close proximity to the Lockheed Martin facility.” The Master Association feels the alignment strikes the right balance of recreation and conservation.”