In recent weeks, there has been increasing interest in the Sesame Canyon Trail (herein referred to as the Sesame Canyon Social Trail since it has never been an authorized designated trail) as well as questions regarding plans to formally close, decommission, and actively restore the trail as part of ongoing efforts to protect the habitat of the threatened greenback cutthroat trout, which resides in neighboring Bear Creek. We wanted to be proactive in making sure the public has the correct information regarding the project.
To be clear, RMFI is a nonprofit environmental stewardship organization and is not the agency responsible for the management decisions and actions involving the Sesame Canyon Social Trail; this responsibility belongs to the U.S. Forest Service. However, for nearly a decade, RMFI has been working alongside the U.S. Forest Service and other partners to implement a wide variety of trail and restoration projects within the Bear Creek Watershed largely aimed at mitigating sedimentation into Bear Creek to protect the habitat of the greenback cutthroat trout.
Below are some answers to common questions we've been receiving as well as information for who you can contact to learn more.
1. Is the Sesame Canyon Social Trail open to the public?
- The Sesame Canyon Social Trail is an illegal trail that was formally closed to the public on June 27, 2017 after the special order that closed the area to off-trail travel was signed (see Question 7 for links to these documents). The small section of trail that is owned and managed by the City of Colorado Springs (see Question 5) has always been closed to the public because the City mandates that all users stay on trail.
- The trail has always been an unauthorized/user-created trail.
2. Why is the trail closed?
- The Sesame Canyon Social Trail is steep, eroded, unsustainable, and runs straight up the fall line. The trail and its drainage are located within the Water Influence Zone for Bear Creek and deposit sediment to a tributary of Bear Creek. As part of ongoing and legally-required efforts to protect the habitat of the threatened greenback cutthroat trout, this trail was formally closed to the public to prevent continued use, degradation, erosion, and sedimentation.
3. Why are the greenback cutthroat trout so important and worth protecting?
- The greenback cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii stomais) is Colorado’s state fish. It is currently a Federally-listed threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. At present, the last remaining, naturally reproducing population of genetically pure greenback cutthroat trout inhabits just a 4-mile stretch of Bear Creek located west of Colorado Springs. It is believed there are only 750 adult species left in the wild.
4. Who manages the Sesame Canyon Social Trail?
- Approximately 90% of the Sesame Canyon Social Trail is located on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The first ~650 feet of trail from its intersection with High Drive is managed by the City of Colorado Springs.
5. Is the trail going to be decommissioned and restored?
- Yes. RMFI will be working with the U.S. Forest Service to close, decommission, and actively restore the Sesame Canyon Social Trail. The project is slated to begin in June 2019. The project will involve decompacting the trail surface, reseeding the area with native species, constructing and installing erosion control structures (check dams), and placing barriers (rocks, trees) to obstruct continued access to the area.
6. Does the U.S. Forest Service have any information on their website about the Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project and Sesame Canyon?
- Yes, please click here to learn more. You can also read the Environmental Assessment Report here and the Final Decision Notice here.
7. Who can I speak with at the U.S. Forest Service to learn more?
- Janelle Valladares, Fisheries Biologist
- Tel: 719-269-8704
- Email: [email protected]