Fire & Flood

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Colorado State Forest Service: Use more local wood

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 9:26 AM

click image Well, it's certainly one solution to forest fires. - NEIL TURNER
  • Neil Turner
  • Well, it's certainly one solution to forest fires.

Well, this is something you don't see every day: The Colorado State Forest Service urging all of us to kill more trees. 

But with fires burning near Rampart Reservoir and in Custer County, the Forest Service is blaming large-scale wildfires on overgrown forests. 

According to Ryan Lockwood, the Service's Public and Media Relations Coordinator, "[H]aving a robust wood products industry results in healthier forests and reduced wildfire risk." And indeed, it's hard to argue that there are fewer fires where there are fewer — or no — trees. 

Here's the release:

2016 Colorado Wildfires Highlight Need to Use Local Wood

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – October 17, 2016 – The large and destructive wildfires in Colorado this year, from the 38,000-acre Beaver Creek Fire still burning in beetle-kill timber in northwestern Colorado to the 16,000-acre Hayden Pass Fire southeast of Salida, are in part due to unhealthy forest conditions that made them prone to intense fire behavior. And with this week being National Forest Products Week, the Colorado State Forest Service wants to emphasize how having a robust wood products industry spurs not only widespread forest management, but the healthy forests and reduced wildfire risk that result from them.

“If we could increase the share of locally produced wood products that are purchased by Coloradans, the benefits would accrue not only to family-owned businesses, but to our forests themselves,” said Tim Reader, CSFS utilization and marketing forester.

More than 90 percent of the forest products purchased by Coloradans currently are imported into the state.

Kristina Hughes, another CSFS forester, is the program administrator for the Colorado Forest Products™ program, which encourages consumers to purchase locally made wood products from one of the state’s many wood-based businesses. She says that by purchasing locally harvested and produced wood products, citizens support the sawmills and other businesses that are improving forest health and protecting communities, property and critical infrastructure from wildfire.

Consumers looking to buy locally produced wood products or businesses interested in joining the Colorado Forest Products™ program can go to www.coloradoforestproducts.org. Coloradoans also can learn more about the way they can contribute to the wood products economy and how the state is supporting these businesses by visiting http://csfs.colostate.edu/cowood

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Flooded basements, piles of hail and zombies

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 1:36 PM


OK, I want to talk about two things:

1) ZOMBIES!!!

2) Those two crazy storms we had Monday and Sunday that wiped out everyone's gardens, sent cars floating down the street, piled hail in people's yards deep enough to consider building snowmen, and made me really glad I don't have a basement.

What do these two things have in common? Well, actually not a whole lot. But El Paso County does host a really fun Annual Zombie Run and PrepareAthon (it's coming up on September 24) in which you are chased around by people dressed as zombies and then taught about preparing for disasters. 

The basic premise here is that if you don't know how to save yourself when a natural disaster is threatening your life then you are sort of like a zombie. Which is bad. And dangerous.

Anyway, if you want to learn some strategies to save yourself from the next major Colorado disaster and also get chased by people wearing a lot of fake blood, then you should read this:

The 4th Annual Zombie Run and PrepareAthon is Set for Sept. 24
Emergency Preparedness the Focal Point of the Event


El Paso County, CO, August 29, 2016 – El Paso County’s Bear Creek Regional Park will host the 4th Annual Zombie Run and PrepareAthon on Saturday, Sept. 24, to promote emergency preparedness.

“The PrepareAthon is not just a fun zombie run, but an event for entire families,” said County Commissioner Peggy Littleton. Littleton reminds area residents that emergency preparedness is a matter of personal responsibility because emergencies frequently cutoff communications and disrupt travel. “It is our personal responsibility to know what to do when You're On Your Own, YOYO. We each are the first responders to any event—fire, flood, power failure—and we need to be well informed and prepared.” Everyone is invited to join the zombies as children make preparedness pillowcases, Boy Scouts demonstrate how to 'live off the grid' and others provide education and tools to be prepared.”

The annual 3K run and PrepareAthon encourages local residents to understand the importance of being prepared for emergencies like the fires, flash flooding and blizzards the Pikes Peak region has seen in recent years. At home, at work, or at school, residents need to have their own specific emergency plans. The family friendly PrepareAthon offers everyone an opportunity to talk with emergency responders and vendors and learn more about emergency preparedness establishing personal emergency plans.

“The whole family can have free fun and become better prepared at the same time,” said Robin Adair, El Paso County Community Preparedness and CERT coordinator. “Everyone will find a valuable takeaway, if you’ve already well-prepared and want to take it to the next level, or if you’re just starting to pack your first emergency kit.”

The Zombie Run is a traditional 3K with minor obstacles and zombies. The runners will wear “life flags,” similar to flag football. The fully costumed zombies try to steal the flags from the runners as they move along the trail. Runners who lose flags must correctly answer emergency preparedness questions to get their life flags back. For those who like a little more fun, they can also modify their traditional running apparel to dress as zombies.

Zombie Run and PrepareAthon
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
Pre Registration is required for runners and zombies.
Register at www.PikesPeakZombieRun.com

Cost:

$30 for the 3K Run/Walk: Early Bird and Team discounts available.
You can also register to participate as a zombie to chase the runners for $10.

A commemorative event t-shirt is included in your registration fee.

Time: The first of multiple heats begins at 10 a.m.

Location: Bear Creek Regional Park, 2002 Creek Crossing, Colorado Springs.
The event is on the east side of the park near the Park’s Office and community garden.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psnPVLKwmYs

PrepareAthon: is free, open to the public, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
No need to be a runner or a zombie to enjoy the PrepareAthon.
Family activities, information, & demonstrations to include:

• Emergency Responders, Vehicles, and Equipment
(fire trucks, bulldozer, bug-out car)
• Personal and Family Readiness for Disaster
• Off-grid camping and survival demonstrations
• Disaster First Aid
• Fire escape planning smoke demonstration trailer
• Backup and portable power alternatives
• Preparedness supplies and gear (plus zombie novelty items)
• Animal Readiness for domestic pets & livestock (plus petting zoo)
• Readiness Activities for children (with take-home kit)
• Community Emergency Response Team
• Community Gardeners
• Games and prizes (free stuff!)
• Hands-on Fire extinguisher practice (real flames)
Food Trucks on site

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

5 surprising facts about homeless camps

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 8:14 AM

Not exactly a fun weekend in the woods: The Forest Service is finding homeless camps all over national forest lands. - COURTESY USFS
  • Courtesy USFS
  • Not exactly a fun weekend in the woods: The Forest Service is finding homeless camps all over national forest lands.

In this week’s cover story,
I wrote about the problems that homeless camps will cause this summer, as they mushroom throughout our urban park and trail systems and into our national forests. Since there’s a shortage of shelter beds, police can’t usually boot campers, as they have nowhere else to go. But having people living on the streets is anything but ideal — certainly not for the people who live in these make-shift camps, but not for those of us who are more fortunate either.

Here are some surprising facts you may not know about our local homeless population:

1) They are increasingly young.
Officer Brett Iverson, of the Colorado Springs Homeless Outreach Team (HOT Team) says that perhaps 40 percent of the people they encounter on the streets now are under 35. They also say that many of them are coming to the state for legal weed, though at least one service provider says she thinks a bigger driver is jobs.
Either way, many of the young people aren’t interested in the help service providers have to offer, and may even see homelessness as a lifestyle choice. Unfortunately, it’s likely not a safe one. The homeless can often end up as victims of crime or get sucked into unhealthy choices, like heavy drug use.

2) They leave behind tons (and tons, and tons) of trash in our wild spaces.
Between May 1, 2015 and May 30 of this year, Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful, a nonprofit that contracts with the city, collected about 22,000 tons of trash, or 164 30-cubic-yard construction dumpsters of junk from homeless camps. All of that was collected in 305 clean-ups, by 2,043 volunteers doing 12,801 hours of work. Most came from a single trail — Pikes Peak Greenway.

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3) Camps put the city at risk for another Waldo Canyon or Black Forest fire.

Everyone from Manitou Springs Mayor Nicole Nicoletta to District Ranger Oscar Martinez (who work for the U.S. Forest Service’s Pikes Peak Ranger District) cites this as a concern. The fact of the matter is, most people don’t properly put out their campfires, and homeless camps tend to have fires. On a recent tour of a popular urban homeless camping spot, this reporter personally witnessed several scorched trees near old fire pits.  Since more and more people are camping in the dry forests surrounding the city, the risk for a major fire will be high this summer.

4) There are lots of drug needles in the camps.
Dee Cunningham, executive director of Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful, estimates that the number of syringes she finds in clean-ups “has increased probably 20 times from five years ago.” She says she finds needles everywhere — on the side of trails, woven into tents. Martinez, meanwhile, says one of his staffers recently ended up with a drug needle stuck in his boot.
On a tour of homeless camps in Colorado Springs, this reporter noticed many bright orange needle caps.

5) The people who most need help are often the least likely to get it.
The HOT Team’s Iverson says there’s still a high population of people with mental illness on the streets. There are very few programs to help these people, and often those who are seriously ill will refuse help because their illness prevents them from understanding they have a problem. It’s a vexing predicament, and one that Iverson says troubles him.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fountain mobile home residents to be relocated

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 12:03 PM

Bud Calhoun points to the creek's eroding banks. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Bud Calhoun points to the creek's eroding banks.

Back in January, I wrote about the Riverside Mobile Home Park in Fountain

Owned by Bud Calhoun, the aging park sits on a 30-foot cliff overlooking Fountain Creek. Most of the residents are in their golden years, and the homes provide affordable living in a spectacular setting. Calhoun, who is in his 80s, loves walking his dog through the golden fields here and looking out across the water and the open plains. 

The problem with Riverside is that it sits on unstable ground. The creek is eating away at the ground underneath it, causing chunks of land to collapse over time. And a large flood could endanger the residents here. 

"Erosion along Fountain Creek has been undercutting the bank leading up to the mobile home park for a number of years," the county reports. "The September 2013 flood brought the streambank unacceptably close to the mobile homes above. El Paso County initiated the grant application process and began meeting with residents in 2015 to discuss safety concerns and possible options to assist them."

El Paso County wanted to help the residents here to move to safer ground and sought grants through the state to do so. Now it appears they have been successful.

Earlier this month, the director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Irv Halter, accepted the recommendation from the State Housing Board into approve the county's grant application. That first batch of money will be used to relocated the residents of Riverside to new affordable housing. The moves should be complete in about three months.

The county is also asking for money to buy property in the area and to do mitigation work on the creek.
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Monday, April 4, 2016

GMF flood meeting tonight

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 1:50 PM

Post-Waldo floods in Manitou caused mass damage. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Post-Waldo floods in Manitou caused mass damage.
I don't know about you, but the coming of spring makes me think about long days on my mountain bike under the warm sun.

I have a tendency to forget that summer also means heavy downpours that can flood streets and homes. But, as we have seen in past years, summer is about more than wildflowers and campfires. It's also about cars — and even houses — sliding down hillsides in flash floods. That's especially true since the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires left hillsides bare.

In light of this, the county is hosting meetings to prepare residents for the monsoon season. A meeting will take place Monday night in vulnerable Green Mountain Falls, where past flooding has caused heavy damage.

Read on for the details:

El Paso County Office of Emergency Management Flash Flood Information Meeting TONIGHT
Travel, Mitigation, Preparedness and Recovery To Be Discussed


El Paso County, CO, April 4, 2016 – The El Paso County Office of Emergency Management will host a meeting at the Joyland Church (10605 Green Mountain Falls Road) in Green Mountain Falls tonight (April 4) from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. to give Ute Pass area residents updated information on flood risks, mitigation efforts and preparations for upcoming Spring and Summer rainstorms.

El Paso County Office of Emergency Management, Public Services Department, Commissioner Sallie Clark, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the National Weather Service and local fire districts will address various issues and answer questions.

Weather monitoring and warning systems, personal, family and business preparedness plans, road closure procedures and ongoing mitigation efforts will be discussed at this meeting.

“It is important to make sure residents are prepared as we move into spring and summer and have the potential for heavy rain to create flash flooding from the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar,” said District 3 El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark. “This is a great opportunity to get the latest information and to make sure you are ready. I hope everyone in the area is able to attend this very important meeting.”

You can get more information on disaster preparedness at:
http://adm.elpasoco.com/emprep/Pages/default.aspx

Those attending the meeting will also be able to view displays and learn more about the Fountain Creek Watershed from the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

For questions about the April 4th meeting call (719) 575-8858.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

State of the Region gets Fox-y

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 3:28 PM

A large crowd came to hear Lathen's speech. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • A large crowd came to hear Lathen's speech.
Amy Lathen said the state of the region is improving. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Amy Lathen said the state of the region is improving.

El Paso County Board of County Commissioners Chair Amy Lathen themed this year's State of the Region address around the now 30-year-old Michael J. Fox film, Back to the Future.

Past leaders, she said, beginning with the Colorado Springs' founders, were always looking toward the future, whether by building the Broadmoor Hotel or the World Arena. Lathen said we must also look toward the future, now that the economy is showing signs of recovery, City for Champions is beginning to take shape, and the county has addressed many of the most urgent flood-control projects following the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires.

Lathen called for a federal courthouse to be located in El Paso County, given the area's large case load. She also called on citizens to be kind to one another in the wake of two recent mass shootings.  Lathen addressed other future-oriented projects by naming a number of award recipients who are contributing to major change in the area. Among them:

• Jackie Gonzalez was named "Ambassador of the Year." Gonzalez works for U.S. Bank and is an Ambassador for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

Jay Cimino was named "Person of Influence." Cimino is the President and CEO of the Phil Long family of car dealerships and Founder & Chairman of the Board of Mt. Carmel Health, Wellness and Community Center

Rebecca Jacobs, the county's employment and family support director, was named County Employee of the Year. Jacobs was recognized for her collaborative efforts in the community, including getting help for flood and fire victims and supporting the Feed the Children campaign.

Larry Yonker was given the "Making a Difference" award. Yonker is the President and CEO of the Springs Rescue Mission, which begins construction next year on a major expansion that will allow it to serve more homeless and addicted individuals.

Gary Henry was given the "Economic Project of the Year" award. Henry is the executive director of Colorado PTAC, which helps Colorado companies procure government contracts.



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Friday, November 20, 2015

Prescribed burns cancelled

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 1:32 PM

Fire can be healthy under the right conditions. - BRADLEY FLORA
  • Bradley Flora
  • Fire can be healthy under the right conditions.

The other day, my coworker instant-messaged me in a panic. He had seen smoke rising near Black Forest.

It turned out to be nothing, but his reaction was telling. Those of us who lived through the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires tend to get pretty worked up by the sight of smoke.

While some fires are cause for panic, not all are. Under the right conditions, fires are healthy for our forests. That's why experts set fires, known as prescribed burns. The fires thin the forest, burn off excess rubbish, and keep the remaining trees healthy and bug-resistant. While fires always carry risks — and some prescribed burns have raged out of control and caused mass destruction — most do exactly what they set out to do. The trick is to make sure conditions are perfect for controlling the blaze.

So it's reassuring to know that local experts are very picky about choosing the right time to set a prescribed burn. The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network, a group of prescribed-burn stakeholders, recently cancelled two prescribed burns near Woodland Park because perfect conditions for the fires never materialized this season. The fires will be put off until next year, because when it comes to fire, it's always better safe than sorry.
Fire Learning Network Prescribed Burns Postponed until 2016

The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network has decided to postpone its prescribed burns until next year. The group had planned to conduct burns in two areas, Catamount and Sourdough, both in the Woodland Park area. However, weather and conditions were not ripe to move forward with the projects this year.

When a controlled burn is implemented, it is conducted under very specific parameters laid out after years of planning. Daily weather conditions play a key role in whether a burn can be accomplished or not. Due to moisture levels, weather forecasts and burn restrictions, the fire managers did not feel there was a window in which to initiate the burns at this time.

The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network will revisit these projects in 2016 and will continue to keep the community apprised as to when they plan to move forward with these burns.

Please visit www.pikespeakfln.org for more information on these projects and to learn more about the Fire Learning Network.

###

The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network is a group of stakeholders working together to foster the safe and appropriate use of fire as a management tool for reducing wildfire risks to communities, restoring forest resilience and enabling people and nature to better adapt to and co-exist with fire. More information can be found at www.pikespeakfln.org

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Prescribed burns coming to Woodland Park area

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 11:05 AM

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It is an irony that one of the best ways to prevent forest fires is to start one.

The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network plans to do exactly that starting in mid-October in two areas near Woodland Park. The prescribed burns, which are closely monitored, are meant to replicate the natural burn process that forests undergo.

Controlled fires help build healthy forests by thinning out vegetation, which makes surviving trees healthier and more fire resistant because they have to compete less for precious resources like water. It also clears out dead vegetation that can act as kindling in dry months, igniting out-of-control blazes. 

Nevertheless, many residents are fearful when they see smoke, especially after the deadly and destructive Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires. Read on for more information:

Pikes Peak Prescribed Burns Scheduled to Begin Mid-October

October , 2015 – The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network will conduct two prescribed fire projects this fall in the Woodland Park area. The Sourdough and North Catamount burns are scheduled to take place in mid to late October, exact dates will depend on weather conditions.

Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network is a collaborative group established to bring local and regional partners together to collectively identify and implement strategies for the safe, effective and appropriate use of fire for forest management.

“Prescribed fire is a highly effective land management tool that can greatly minimize the risk of unnaturally large and damaging wildfires, while improving wildlife habitat and strengthening the health of our landscapes and watersheds,” said Jason Lawhon, Fire Manager for the Colorado Nature Conservancy. “The Fire Learning Network brings together community members and fire and land management professionals to learn from each burn experience.”

The Sourdough prescribed burn will take place over a 14.8 acre area located north of Woodland Park. It will occur on private property off of Sourdough road just south of the Manitou Experimental Forest. Organized primarily through the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, North East Teller Fire and The Nature Conservancy, the goals of the project are to reduce hazardous fire fuels and increase understory grass and plant recovery after a previous forest thinning project.

The burn will take place any time after October 12. The exact date will depend on weather and fuel conditions. There will be one day of burning and crews will remain on scene for multiple days after the burn to monitor the fire until it is completely extinguished.
“Without prescribed fire, we as a society cannot hope to achieve the goals of forest resiliency, community protection, and watershed health,” said Jonathan Bruno, Chief Operation Officer of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. “These are all critical to protecting people, property, and ecosystems.”

The North Catamount prescribed burn will take place on a 105 acre area located on the
Colorado Springs Utilities’ North Slope Watershed near the North Catamount Reservoir.
Colorado Springs Utilities is the lead Network member on this project with goals of protecting water supply and infrastructure in its watersheds as well as improving forest heath and reducing fuels.

The burn is scheduled to take place any time after October 18 depending on conditions. There will be 1 to 2 days of burning with crews on the scene for multiple days after monitoring until it is completely extinguished.

“Over the past 20 years, multiple fuel reduction projects have been completed on the North Slope using hand crews and other mechanical techniques,” said Eric Howell, Colorado Springs Utilities Forest Program Manager. “Over time, however, wildfire conditions have increased. We can help mitigate risks effectively and safely through the implementation of prescribed fire.”

Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network is actively working with Colorado Air Pollution and Control Division to manage potential smoke impacts from the burns. When a controlled burn is implemented, it is conducted under very specific parameters laid out after years of planning. Daily weather conditions play a key role in whether a burn can be accomplished or not. The project fire managers will be evaluating conditions and forecasted weather to make the best decision on when to initiate these burns.

The Network is working to make sure that community members are kept abreast of information regarding these burns and hope to address any concerns and questions. Once the exact dates of the burns are known, the media and public will be notified. Up to date information will also be disseminated through the Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network twitter account, @Pikespeak_FLN with related hashtags, #SourdoughRX and #CatamountRX.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Time is running out to register for zombie run

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 12:20 PM

The county wants you to be prepared for just about anything. - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • The county wants you to be prepared for just about anything.

You have until Thursday to register for this Saturday's 3k run from the undead.

El Paso County's Be Prepared… Don’t Be A Zombie 2015 Zombie Run will be hosted at Fox Run Regional Park. The first run starts at 10 a.m. Runners will be chased by zombie hordes who attempt to take their flags. In order to get a new flag, runners have to answer a question about emergency preparedness. The point, obviously, isn't to prepare the public for zombies, but to ready them for the very real disasters like fires and floods. 

Register here. The cost is $10-$30 per runner. Proceeds will go to support community emergency preparedness activities. 
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Ugh. Another closure on the Midland Trail.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 12:42 PM

If you get around by bike or foot, chances are you've run into some problems as of late. Here's one to add to your list: The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to close the Midland Trail underpass at I-25 on July 20.

The Midland Trail already has a storm-related closure between 25th and 28th Streets, so this will be a second obstacle for cyclists and walkers. While CDOT plans to make trail improvements that should ultimately benefit non-motorized travelers, the timing is pretty bad. 

For one thing, trail closures aren't isolated to the popular Midland Trail. The Pikes Peak Greenway/Santa Fe Trail is the city's main artery if you happen to travel by foot or bike. Parts of it are closed due to storm damage as well.

Midland Trail underpass at I-25 to close July 20

Temporary Trail Detour in Place During Construction of New Trail


Beginning the morning of Monday, July 20, crews on the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT) Interstate-25/Cimarron Interchange Design-Build Project will close the Midland Trail I-25 underpass into America the Beautiful Park as they begin a series of trail improvements. The access to the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail off Colorado Avenue will remain open; and signed, clearly marked Midland Trail detour routes will be in place for users to navigate around the closure. The new trail configuration that opens in summer of 2017 will create a better experience for trail users.


Midland Trail Detour: Eastbound trail users will take S. Chestnut Street north to W. Cucharras Street, continue as it becomes S. Walnut Street and connects to Colorado Avenue, then take Colorado Avenue east under I-25 to the Greenway Trail or continue on Colorado Avenue to Cimino Drive to access America the Beautiful Park and connect back to the Midland Trail.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

County tells Black Forest to clean it up

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 4:16 PM

The Black Forest Fire left many homes in ruins. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The Black Forest Fire left many homes in ruins.

After the Black Forest Fire, El Paso County Commissioners let some things slide.

A lot of people had burned-up rubbish on their land, construction equipment, and trailers that provided temporary shelter while they rebuilt. Temporary exceptions to normal code in the area allowed residents to keep that stuff on their land for two years, in an effort to give them time to recover. 

But County Commissioners decided unanimously today to let those exceptions expire. That means most residents will need to clean up their act, though the Commissioners did allow exceptions to be made on a case-by-case basis.

Apparently, the decision has made some neighbors — who feel that the area is becoming trashed — happy. But others say the decision puts them in a terrible position, as the continue to try to rebuild their lives.

Read on for more:

Development Code Exceptions for Black Forest Fire Properties Allowed to Expire

Temporary Exceptions May Be Allowed After Administrative Review on a Case by Case Basis


El Paso County, CO, Tuesday July 7, 2015 – The Board of El Paso County Commissioners today confirmed the immediate expiration of code exceptions which were put in place make it easier for residents to rebuild after the 2013 Black Forest Fire. The Board’s unanimous decision allows the Development Services Department to work with individual property owners with extraordinary circumstances on an individual basis to allow them to continue to live in recreational vehicles (RVs) for a limited time pending the completion of construction work on their homes.

The Board heard from a number of Black Forest residents who are in the process of rebuilding bur still living in RV’s due to financial hardships, pending insurance litigation and medical issues. The Board’s decision gives those residents with active building permits, pending insurance settlements or other extraordinary circumstances the opportunity to work with the Development Services Department on a case by case basis.

The Board also heard from residents who expressed concerns that some of the properties burned in the fire are still littered with rusting fire debris, burned out vehicles, multiple trailers and piles of demolition and construction materials creating localized blight and reducing the value of their properties. With the Board’s decision today, County Code Enforcement Officers are directed to resume regular enforcement procedures associated with the rubbish ordinance and all other applicable Land Development Code provisions in the Black Forest area.

Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who represents the Black Forest Area, noted that allowing the two-year old exceptions to expire provides clear direction in establishing a way forward for the entire community. Commissioner Dennis Hisey added, “It’s time to go after the rubbish; the rusting debris from burned out houses that still exists on some of those properties.” Commissioner Amy Lathen added, “We always make a concerted effort to work with those who are suffering but this allows our staff to get in there and begin working with property owners to clear out the rubbish.”

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's sandbag party time

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 3:56 PM

click image STEVEN DEPOLO
  • Steven Depolo

Technically, it's barbecue season.

I wait for this ALL YEAR. Backyard parties. Rolling in the grass. Sunburns. Watermelon. Children with water guns. Ribs. Dogs biting sprinklers. Badly-played badminton. Inflatable pools filled with slowly dying insects.

Summer. I love summer

Unfortunately, it's only technically barbecue season. Really, it's raining buckets. Rolling around in the grass while gobbling your meal off a thin paper plate really isn't advisable. Sigh. So, for this rainy summer, I think we all need a new plan. Instead of barbecues, we can have sandbag parties. 

Hear me out. You go get free sandbags from the city or county and load them in your truck. Then you invite over all your friends, get them slightly tipsy, and convince them to barricade your basement. You get to hang out with your friends and the next time it rains (bonus!), your basement is bone dry. This seems like a win to me.

Here's where to get the sandbags:
FREE Sandbags available to protect homes from potential flooding

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado Springs residents can pick up FREE unfilled sandbags to help protect their homes from potential flooding at four Colorado Springs Fire stations (while supplies last).

Fire Station 5 – 2830 W. Colorado Ave.
Fire Station 9 – 622 Garden of the Gods Rd.
Fire Station 12 – 445 Rockrimmon Blvd.
Fire Station 13 – 1475 Cresta Rd

Free sand to fill sandbags is available at no cost in the parking lot of Wilson United Methodist Church, 6460 Flying W Ranch Rd while supplies last.

If you are a resident picking up sandbags at these locations, please know:

These bags are not filled with sand. Only the four fire stations listed above will have the bags, no other fire stations will have the bags available.

Our fire stations will be in service and may not be at the station when you come to pick up the bags. We ask that you either wait for their return or try stopping by at a different time.

You will need to sign the Sandbag Distribution Form.

You may take 100 bags for each address per day. You may pick up more bags if you need them on a different day.

You will receive an information bag that contains: instructions on sandbag placement, Colorado Springs Emergency Preparedness Guide, and other flood information.

Additionally, 1000 sandbags and sand will be available at Security Fire Station 1, 400 Security Blvd., for citizen self-service.

Residents are advised to consult a certified erosion and sediment control consultant or contractor to manage flooding mitigation on their private property. Sandbags should not be placed in the public right-of-way. For information on potential flooding visit www.ColoradoSprings.gov/floodinfo
Free Sandbags Now Available at Security Fire Station Number One

El Paso County, CO, June 16, 2015 – The El Paso Co Office of Emergency Management is now making free sandbags available in the Stratmoor-Security-Widefield areas for any residents impacted by flooding. The bags are available for self-service (fill your own) at Security Fire Station 1, located at 400 Security Blvd.  

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Manitou exit reopened

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 12:10 PM

Rain also led to other road problems in Manitou Springs. - JOSH CARR
  • Josh Carr
  • Rain also led to other road problems in Manitou Springs.

That section of Manitou Avenue that runs between Serpentine Drive and U.S. 24 — basically serving as the west-most exit to and from the town — has reopened.

The stretch of road was closed after persistent rain led to a rockslide and cracking in the road and nearby retaining wall. Colorado Department of Transportation Engineers have determined the road is safe. 

The road was just one of many problems caused by the rain in Manitou Springs. 

Highway 24 Business Fully Reopened

MANITOU SPRINGS — The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reopened westbound U.S. 24 Business (Manitou Avenue) from mainline Highway 24 to Serpentine Drive. On Memorial Day, rocks had fallen in the eastbound lanes resulting in a closure of both lanes. Eastbound had reopened on May 28.

This ½ mile segment of westbound Highway 24 Business had been kept closed after cracks were discovered in the westbound lane of the roadway last Thursday. CDOT engineers monitored the cracking on westbound Highway 24 Business last week and have determined that the road is stable and safe to reopen. The area will continued to be monitored during heavy rain storms.

This segment of U.S. 24 Business is a low-use roadway, with an average daily traffic count of 1,500 vehicles.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Help fix Rock Island Trail

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 4:46 PM

Trails have been damaged by heavy rains and floods. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • Trails have been damaged by heavy rains and floods.

Floods have done extensive damage to the city's trail system.

Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, says her members have been eager to begin the work needed to fix the trails. She's thankful that the city has announced the first project that volunteers can help with. 

Those willing to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty are needed to repair Rock Island Trail tomorrow.
EMERGENCY FLOOD PROJECT—

ROCK ISLAND TRAIL

Volunteers are urgently needed Thurs, May 28 to help El Paso County Parks fill and place sand bags on the Rock Island Trail. The job involves some lifting, bending and shoveling.

Meet at 10 am at EPC Public Service building, 3255 Acres Drive. Call Adam Baker for more information and to sign up, 719-495-0765.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

UPDATE: Floods cause trail closures

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 10:53 AM

The city apparently won't be allowing any rock climbing in city parks over the weekend. Here are a few more updates from the city:

Park & Trail Closures UPDATE!

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.- Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services staff continues to assess damage throughout the City’s park system from recent rain. Pikes Peak Greenway Trail between Polk Street and Tremont Street has re-opened. The following remain closed at this time.

City Parks and Trails Closures

• The Midland Trail between 26th Street and Ridge Road
• Red Rock Canyon Open Space due to the extensive damage caused by recent rains and a dam breach within Sand Canyon. At this time, no private property is affected. Park staff is assessing damage and trail conditions throughout the entire property.
• Foot Hills Trail within Garden of the Gods between Gateway Road and the Navigators.
• Pikes Peak Greenway Trail between Nevada Avenue and El Pomar Youth Sports Park

Park and trail users are strongly encouraged to heed trail closures and avoid low lying areas for their own safety. Please follow all closures, barricades and exercise caution on all trails. Varying degrees of damage may exist on the trails and in the parks.

Park and trail users are also encouraged to use good judgment to help protect our natural resources in the areas that remain open. Most parks and trails are completely saturated and muddy. If you do venture out this weekend, remember to stay on the trails – even if they’re muddy – to help protect the land and natural areas.


——- UPDATED POST, TODAY, 10:53 A.M. ———

Update:
I hope you weren't planning to hit the trails this Memorial Day weekend, because continued bad weather is causing even more trail and park closures.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space is closed. The city's main commuter trail, the Santa Fe/ Pikes Peak Greenway has suffered major damage. However, the Air Force Academy trails, which were inaccessible for a while due to security concerns, appear to be open again. The exception is a portion of the Santa Fe trail that runs through the Academy, which is closed to the general public unless the guests are sponsored by a DoD ID cardholder. However, other reports say that the trail is heavily damaged from floods.

The Trails and Open Space Coalition is keeping a good tab on what is closed. Check their list here.

The city lists the following closures:
• The Midland Trail between 26th Street and Ridge Road

• Pikes Peak Greenway Trail between Polk Street and Tremont Street

• Red Rock Canyon Open Space due to the extensive damage caused by recent rains and a dam breach within Sand Canyon. At this time, no private property is affected. Park staffs is assessing damage and trail conditions throughout the entire property.

• Foot Hills Trail within Garden of the Gods between Gateway Road and the Navigators.

• Pikes Peak Greenway Trail between Nevada Avenue and El Pomar Youth Sports Park
El Paso County has also released a list of its closures:
Parks Closes Trails

Damage from Rain and Flash Flooding


El Paso County, CO, May 23, 2015 – El Paso County Parks has closed numerous trails due to damage from the recent rains and flash flooding.

Closed Trails include:

New Santa Fe Regional Trail - The trail section through the Air Force Academy (AFA) has been temporarily closed by the AFA due to heighten security concerns.

Rainbow Falls Recreation Area - The site is temporarily closed due to flooding issues and CDOT road closures.

Ute Pass Regional Trail- The trail is closed from Crystola Canyon Road south to Green Mountain Falls Road due to trail washouts.

Fountain Creek Regional Trail -
1. The Hanson Trailhead is closed in addition to area trails. The bridge across Fountain Creek near the trailhead is also closed.
2. The Fishers Canyon trail section (near Maxwell Street Trailhead) is closed due to structural issues.
3. The trail section through the Stratmoor Valley Trailhead is closed due to creek bank failures and trail washouts.
4. The trail sections near Willow Springs Ponds and Highway 16 underpass are closed due to creek bank failures and washout of trails.

Clear Springs Ranch - Trail closed at low water crossing approximately ¼ mile north of the trailhead.

Regional Park Trails - Numerous trails in regional parks have been impacted by flooding. Park users are advised to use caution on all regional park trails.
——- ORIGINAL POST, May 13, 2:46 P.M. ——-

In past years, flooding has caused major damage. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • In past years, flooding has caused major damage.


Recent floods have damaged trails, including the popular Pikes Peak Greenway Trail (aka the Santa Fe Trail).

The city is asking cyclists and other trail users to respect the closures while repairs are made. Reroutes are being looked at where possible. 

Here's what the city has to say:
Closure of two major trail segments

Colorado Springs, CO – Rains of the past week and the subsequent flooding have damaged two vital parts of the City’s regional trail system necessitating the closure of two major trail segments:

· Flooding along Camp Creek significantly damaged the Foot Hills Trail within Garden of the Gods. The trail has been closed between Gateway Road and the Navigators

· Three major washouts occurred on the Greenway Trail and it has been closed between Nevada Avenue and El Pomar Youth Sports Park

City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services staff is investigating the damage and will be identifying a path forward to facilitate repairs and accommodate reroutes where possible. Also, various degrees of damage may exist on trail segments throughout the community so our trail users are advised to use caution.
The Trails and Open Space Coalition appears to have a more exhaustive list of such closures on its website. So far, it lists the following:
• Pikes Peak Greenway—south of Tejon, and near Monument Valley Park

• Midland Trail near 25th St.

• Foothills Trail near Glen Eyrie

• Fountain Creek Regional Trail—three closures

• Ute Pass Regional Trail—Green Mtn Falls

• Rainbow Falls

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