June 22, 2023
Colorado Parks and Wildlife sent the following response to Jefferson County on March 21 as a first referral comment about the proposed Shadow Mountain Bike Park in Conifer. CPW’s mission in part is to perpetuate the wildlife resources of the state and they are nationally recognized as a leader in conservation, outdoor recreation, and wildlife management. It’s been a bellringer for so many people that we want to share it with the Conifer community-at-large. CPW’s considered opinion of development at the proposed location is exactly as they sent it to the County.
“The Shadow Mountain Parcel is approximately 305 acres of mostly contiguous undeveloped land surrounded by residential mountain development. CPW District Wildlife Managers have conducted site visits of the property and have developed many years of on-the-ground working knowledge of the wildlife values of the property. The proposed property includes a riparian corridor along the lower elevations, rocky outcroppings at higher elevations, and a series of draws in heavily wooded timber. Currently, this property plays an important role in mitigating habitat fragmentation by connecting wildlife habitat on CPW and United States Forest Service (USFS) lands to the west with wildlife habitat on Jefferson County Open Space and Denver Mountain Parks lands to the east.
Elk and mule deer use the Shadow Mountain Parcel year-round. The property is identified as summer range for elk, provides winter range habitat for bull elk, and is used by elk during the breeding season. Resident herds of elk in the area also intermittently use the property throughout the year. The property is identified as summer range for mule deer and provides connectivity to nearby winter range habitat. The riparian corridor on the property has been used increasingly by moose, and currently is one of the eastern most locations where CPW receives regular moose sightings in west Jefferson County. Mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, and coyotes use the property year-round. District Wildlife Managers have observed significant use by these species along the rocky outcroppings at higher elevations and have documented coyotes denning in the same area. District Wildlife Managers have also observed regular use of the property by black bears in the area.
CPW recognize there is important wildlife value in maintaining this parcel of undeveloped land and protecting it from development and regular use by human recreation, which the proposed Shadow Mountain Bike Park development would exacerbate. The Shadow Mountain Parcel plays an important role in maintaining connectivity of wildlife habitat in an area that is becoming increasingly fragmented by a combination of infrastructure, traffic, and growing recreational use of natural landscapes in Jefferson County.”
Clearly, from CPW’s position of expertise in what makes wildlife and habitat decline rather than develop and thrive, the evidence leads CPW to say the construction of a lift-access commercial downhill mountain bike park on the Shadow Mountain Drive state land parcel (or any development) would exacerbate negative conditions in an area of important wildlife value, whichcontains a wide range of wildlife including elk, mule deer, moose, bobcats, foxes, and coyotes. It would also negatively impact the parcel’s important connecting role to other nearby habitats.
Some may want us to believe the wildlife impacts of the bike park will be minimal, but the verified facts are development is a leading cause of habitat loss and fragmentation, and habitat loss is the primary threat to the survival of wildlife in the United States.
Debbie Ford has compiled extensive research with wildlife, wetlands and ecosystems experts on the proposed bike park location. She is a member of Stop the Bike Park, a non-profit organization formed specifically to prevent the proposed bike park – with its fact-driven negative consequences to traffic, wildfire risk, emergency response, air and water quality, and key wildlife habitat — from becoming a reality in its proposed location. She and her husband John reside on Shadow Mountain Drive, and Debbie has photographed just about every animal, bird and flower that makes the proposed location so special and worth preserving.