Driving Through Happy Valley

By Diane J. Brown


This article was originally printed in the Eldora Civic Association Newsletter Fall 2021 Edition.



There is a small wooden cross on the north side of County Road 130 (Eldora Road) just after you turn off of Highway 119. I recently found out that some kind soul placed it there as a memorial to a moose calf that was run over last fall. This cross inspired me to write an article on the subject of speeding traffic versus wildlife.


Veterinarian Michael McCoy comments that he has had to repair many animals hit by vehicles. The pain they endure is incredible and people never stop, but let them lay and die a slow and agonizing death in many cases.


Currently there is a recreational gold rush into the mountains, probably due to the covid pandemic, and it is unlikely to end soon. Many of those coming into our Happy Valley seem to be in a hurry to get to their destinations. They apparently do not realize that they are traveling through a place that is habitat to wildlife of all kinds. Especially when they travel from dusk to dawn, the risk of encountering wildlife on the roads is highest and they are less likely to be able to see the animals in time to avoid hitting them.


According to a recent study, on average there are 3,300 vehicle wildlife collisions in Colorado each year, causing more than $66 million in property and personal damage. Big game species, especially deer, have suffered significant declines in recent decades due to these collisions.


Hitting a large animal at high speed can cause death not only to the animal, but also to the occupants of a vehicle. Moose are notorious for causing heavy damage to vehicles because their long legs put them at the same height as a vehicle’s windshield, sending a moose’s heavy body through the windshield. Eldora resident Ineke Mushovic reports they had a moose jump out in front of them on one of those relatively blind corners headed to town. She had to slam on the brakes and her son was screaming. If she hadn’t been going 25 mph, she would have hit the moose for sure.

Elk on North Fork - Photo by Diane J. Brown

Since most outsiders don’t seem to understand the value of lower speed in reducing wildlife collisions, we Eldorans can help educate them by driving the posted 25 mile per hour speed limit from the west end of Arapaho Ranch through Marysville and Eldora. The stretch of road past Arapaho Ranch needs a lower speed limit, too, as it is a documented wildlife corridor and refuge.


Last spring 56 Eldora households pledged to adhere to the 25 mile per hour speed limit, in effect slowing down speeders who endanger not only wildlife, but people who walk, bike and even ski on Eldora Road. This number translates into even more drivers as many residences have multiple cars and drivers.


Many thanks to those of you who are helping to slow the speed of traffic through our beautiful valley and in so doing, saving the lives of people and animals.


As Eldora resident Brad Eyster says, “I always love driving to, from and through Eldora. Why would anyone exceed the speed limit, rushing through and missing all the spectacular detail and beauty of this unique area."


 

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For more information about the Eldora Civic Association (ECA) visit https://www.eldoracivicassociation.org/