Badger Creek

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Wilderness Qualities
Badger Creek flows year-round through a mountain valley, wide, deep, and substantially forested. The proposed wilderness includes much of the middle watershed of Badger Creek, one of the few primarily spring-fed streams in the region. Extensive meadows, interspersed with patches of forest, cover the valley's upland shoulders in many places. Elevations range from approximately 7,000 feet along Badger Creek to over 11,033 feet on the top of Jack Hall Mountain.

Life zones range from low-elevation semidesert shrub to montane and subalpine, including notable aspen and bristlecone pine stands.

Near the stream, rare plant communities of narrow-leaf cottonwood and coyote willow are found. Within the proposed wilderness lies a potential 8,614-acre USFS Research Natural Area, north of the USFS/BLM boundary, noted for old-growth pinon-juniper woodland, mixed-conifer forest, aspen and montane grassland communities, as well as notable geologic features comprised of cliff faces, spires, and domes.

Recreationally, Badger Creek contains a variety of challenging terrain in both the canyon and upland areas. There are few established trails, and much of the area is difficult to access due to steep terrain. Hiking, bird-watching, horseback riding, and fishing for cold-water species currently attract a small number of backcountry recreationists who find solitude throughout.

Although management of the area is split, with the Forest Service managing approximately 2/3 of the total acreage, the proposal forms a single ecological unit, centered upon Badger Creek. The creek provides a natural environmental link to other nearby roadless areas: Browns Canyon to the west and the Table Mountain/McIntyre Hills complex to the east. It also serves as a wild connector between South Park and the Arkansas River. The area thus forms both a core refuge and wildlife corridor for numerous species, including bighorn sheep, black bear, mountain lion, as well as for various species of raptors, including bald eagle. There are elk calving and summer concentration areas immediately adjacent on the east, and the area offers an elk migration connection to the higher Black Mountain region to the northeast.

Resource Information
There are no active mining claims of record within the proposed wilderness. A number of abandoned mines and prospect holes exist. An area containing old mining claims and recreation cabins along and north of Two Creek has been excluded. One undeveloped private parcel of about 40 acres is located in rugged terrain west of Badger Creek within the proposal.

Approximately 2/3 of the USFS area is managed as big game habitat, while the remainder is managed for grazing. Grazing structures, mostly along Badger Creek and in upland meadows, are minimal. They consist mostly of barbed wire fences and are not detrimental to wilderness qualities. The Cameron grazing allotment covers most of the USFS portion, with the Maverick Gulch and Badger Creek allotments on adjoining BLM land to the south.

The steep canyon cliffs and slopes have discouraged woodcutting and livestock grazing, with the result that human impacts in much of the area are minimal. There are no developed roads or trails accessible to the public in much of the area, and the steep topography make the area unattractive and unsuitable to motorized recreation. There is some evidence of ATV intrusion along the southern and eastern boundaries.

Badger Creek is a major perennial stream flowing out of South Park, where in recent years successful, a long-term watershed restoration project undertaken by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the State Board of Land Commissioners, and private landowners has sought to control erosion and sedimentation resulting from past overgrazing. Upstream water rights may affect flows within the canyon.

Boundary Issues
The boundaries of the proposed wilderness follow the ridgelines to the east and west of Badger Creek where possible, with several exclusions of private land and inholdings along the eastern boundary. The southern boundary generally follows a powerline corridor and road right-of-way. The proposed wilderness extends slightly beyond the 14,440 acres in the USFS Inventoried Roadless Area to include additional Forest Service acreage, as well as approximately 8,600 acres of BLM land in the southern portion of the area.

The proposed wilderness encompasses approximately 1,800 acres of State land, part of which, the 839-acre Badger Creek State Trust Lands, is currently being managed for wildlife-related recreation by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.


badger creek
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badger creek
Badger Creek flows to the Arkansas River.
(Jim Lockhart)

Looking east to 11,033 foot Jack Hall Mountain
(John Stansfield)




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