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.

eagles nest trail 6pkg frame 1134 Ken Caryl Residents: New Trail Threatens Golden Eagles

(credit: Audubon)

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.

eagles nest trail 6pkg frame 30 Ken Caryl Residents: New Trail Threatens Golden Eagles

CBS4’s Tom Mustin interviews Ken Caryl Ranch resident Heidi Werth (credit: CBS)

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.

eagles nest trail 6pkg frame 821 Ken Caryl Residents: New Trail Threatens Golden Eagles

(credit: CBS)

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.

eagles nest trail 6pkg frame 394 Ken Caryl Residents: New Trail Threatens Golden Eagles

(credit: Audubon)

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.

eagles nest trail 6pkg frame 732 Ken Caryl Residents: New Trail Threatens Golden Eagles

(credit: CBS)

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.

eagles nest trail 6pkg frame 1814 Ken Caryl Residents: New Trail Threatens Golden Eagles

(credit: CBS)

“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.”

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CBS4’s Tom Mustin interviews Ken Caryl Ranch resident Heidi Werth (credit: CBS)

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.

eagles nest trail 6pkg frame 214 Ken Caryl Residents: New Trail Threatens Golden Eagles

(credit: CBS)

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.”

Tom Mustin is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

Comments (4)
  1. It’s not just the golden eagles that the Ken Caryl board doesn’t care about. I’ve been fighting with them for YEARS about the prairie dog population and their refusal to allow us to relocate them to safe land. They put the final nail in the coffin when they changed the prairie dog policy to state that only Ken Caryl prairie dogs can be relocated to Ken Caryl property.

    The only answer I see is to replace the board with more animal-friendly members. There are two positions opening up on the Master District next year. Let’s recruit people to replace these uncompassionate board members!

    Thank you for speaking up, Heidi!

  2. I wish at some point in this article it was clarified that these are all Private trails in order to save the Ken Caryl Rangers Staff from having to ask nice people to leave private property when they come looking for Eagles. Also, I wish Tom Mustin would have been at all the board meetings about this trail to get both sides of the story. This is a very, very one sided article that leaves out a ton of environmental studies that were done about this piece of property. This trail was debated and analyzed from every angle several different times. At every meeting there were many supporters of this trail while there were the same 3-5 people opposed to this trail. At one meeting Heidi Wirth (whom got this article published) even threatened all the board members with Felony’s if they approved it. Everyone deserves to have their say, and they did. However, much of the claims stated are much more opinions than actual facts. Just my $.02, but wish both sides of the story were told a bit better. I know it doesn’t make for as good of a story, but at least it would be telling the whole stroy objectively.

  3. Sad, incorrect, inaccurate, and one sided reporting by Tom Mustin. This trail has been in Trail Master Plan for almost a decade. All biology reports have been done. The trail does not encroach on the .5 mile border. Lockhead Martin is well within that border (less than 1000 ft of the nesting site) and so is a JeffCO Trail that was build within that border. Most of the residents support this trail with only a few vocal few (two at the last meeting) oppose it. The Golden Eagle in question hangs out in trees above busy roads with cars, trucks, bikes, joggers, and dogs traveling underneath. I have a photo if you’d like to use that in your report. This report comes from a disgruntled individual who even complained about a $3 increase in HOA dues. Would have been nice if this reporter actually talked to the biologists who did these studies and mentioned all the hard work and long hours various committees spent to make sure there would be no impact on the eagles. Actually, the trail will decrease illegal motorized vehicles that are currently using the old pipeline access and reduce disturbance to the eagle nest. Very disappointed in News 4 for not working this story a tad harder to get to the real facts.

  4. For all of those that would like to read the actual Environmental Study that was done on this exact trail by an Independent source please do so here: https://ken-carylranch.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/2016-Docmann-raptor-survey.pdf The actual study done by professionals tells a bit of a different picture than the one painted in this article by CBS. The residents and board members are all very much in favor or protecting our wildlife within our open spaces and have done more than adequate research on this matter. The feelings and opinions of a few residents don’t turn opinions into facts, and they don’t warrant this kind of negative press. Tom Mustin, were you ever aware of this environmental studies results before you aired this article contradicting the experts? You said in the article you talked to an expert that said if the trail was built, the eagles would surely leave. Did you ever consider the fact the trail will be 3000 ft. from the Eagles nest, but Lockhead with all of its 100’s of employees is located less than 1000 ft. from the Eagles nest? That doesn’t really add up does it??

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