The alignment of a hiking and biking trail in the Crystal River Valley would be a “no-brainer” if the decision was based solely on what’s best for deer, elk and other critters, a wildlife biologist told an audience of more than 50 people Monday evening in Redstone.

Rick Thompson said the trail has the potential to affect about 875 acres of habitat if not constructed with best interests of wildlife in mind. It’s feasible to reduce that number to about 111 acres of affected wildlife habitat, he said at the presentation at the Redstone Church. He will make another presentation Tuesday in Carbondale.

Wilderness Workshop, a Carbondale-based conservation group, commissioned Thompson to study the potential alignments of a proposed trail from BRB Campground south of Carbondale to the summit of McClure Pass and gauge potential impacts to wildlife.

It would be best if the trail could follow the alignment of Highway 133 for the entire 20 miles, Thompson said. The human activity on the road already creates a “zone of influence” between 100 yards and one-quarter mile that isn’t used as wildlife habitat, he said.

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