Colorado College grads Robin Walter and Sebastian Tsocanos have exceeded their $12,000 goal, with $15,775 contributed as of Saturday afternoon. As they mention in their thank-you post, additional donations will still go toward the project; if you're interested in joining the ranks of their donors, you have until the end of today, June 1, to donate.
——- ORIGINAL POST, MAY 23, 9:22 A.M. ——-
In 1806, Thomas Jefferson predicted that it would take 100 generations or more to inhabit the western U.S. He had sent Lewis and Clark to forge a path from the Missouri River to the sea and inspect the vast lands the country had just acquired via the Louisiana Purchase.
It didn't take 100 generations. It took five.
And in the process, all those settlers ripped up a millennia's worth of grassland topsoil (explained particularly poetically in O.E. Rølvaag's Giants in the Earth), which had disastrous consequences when the country dried out, making way for the Dust Bowl. Nowadays, development has taken up much of the land, along with agriculture, leaving only 1 percent of the original temperate grasslands, according to the Atlas of Global Conservation.
Pretty scary, right? And I only know this much because of Robin Walter and Sebastian Tsocanos, two 2012 Colorado College graduates who are now raising money for their project, Rediscovering the Great American Prairie.
The two plan to develop a documentary following their trek on horseback through the plains from northern Montana to western Missouri. Along the way they'll film, host community discussions, and post their progress on an interactive website. An exhibit of their experience will be hosted at Marmalade at Smokebrush.
Why horses? The duo says it not only honors the "cultural heritage of the landscape and historic importance of horses in the region," but allows them to really get the feel of the prairie. "This is a landscape that is often passed through at 75 mph, or looked down upon from 30,000 feet in the air; we want to slow down [their emphasis]." Plus, it's just awesome.
This, of course, costs money. They've already secured $22,000 through savings, secured donations and grants, but to bridge a $12,000 gap, they've launched an IndieGoGo campaign. As of this writing, it needs just under $5,000 with 10 days left.
You get some rad gifts in return, like a postcard from the road, a horseshoe from along the way and a copy of the film. And naturally, the knowledge that you helped make this happen. After all, the Dust Bowl only happened 70 years ago, and why wouldn't it happen again?
Remember when Rainbow Falls was known as "Graffiti Falls"?
Well, if not, let me catch you up. Rainbow is a pretty little waterfall just outside Manitou Springs. It used to be a big tourist attraction in the old days. Then the U.S. Highway 24 bridge was built above it, and over the years it sort of became a place for crackheads to hang out and spray paint obscene and funny things all over the rocks — and I mean all over.
Anyway, in recent years some well-meaning citizens swooped in and saved the day, getting government funds to completely clean up the little waterfall and make it a cute place for families again.
But shortly afterward — no! — flooding off the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar came racing down the waterfall and totally messed up everything. The banks were shredded. The trail was destroyed. Even the bridge saw some damage.
So much for happy endings.
Rainbow will likely get another shot at being a tourist attraction in some future summer when everything is fixed. For now, though, no one gets to hang out there because the state is going to be doing work all summer.
But on the bright side, as we wrote Tuesday, some fun attractions that have been closed since the fire will be opening this weekend, including Rampart Reservoir.
But first, the bad news:
El Paso County Parks has announced that the Rainbow Falls Recreation Area will be closed to the public beginning Tuesday, May 28. Weather permitting, the project is expected to be completed by September 2013.
The closure will allow the Colorado Department of Transportation to construct major bank stabilization and drainage improvements on the site and along U. S. Highway 24 in the Ute Pass area. The improvements will help protect public and private property and ensure public safety.
Renovation of Rainbow Falls Recreation Area has been underway since El Paso County secured ownership of the property in 2010. Following the Colorado Department of Transportation improvements, El Paso County will resume efforts to improve trails and recreation amenities.
For more information on closures or renovation of the property, please contact El Paso County Parks at 719-520-PLAY.
Quick: Name the largest city abutting the Pike and San Isabel national forests and Cimarron and Comanche national grasslands (PSICC).
That's easy, right? It's the same city that lost 347 homes last summer when the Waldo Canyon Fire in the Pike National Forest raged out of control.
Yet none of the U.S. Forest Service's five meetings to solicit comments on an the environmental impact of oil and gas leasing in the forests and grasslands will be held in Colorado Springs.
Maybe they're counting on anyone from here with any interest to show up at the meeting in Monument.
The meetings concern the PSICC Oil and Gas Leasing Availability Analysis Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), according to a news release, which analyzes the effects of potential future oil and gas development. The EIS, however, focuses on surface-disturbing activities only.
More information is available here.
To view the map of the Forest Service's proposed action for the Pike and San Isabel forests, check this out:
The meeting schedule:
Elkhart, Kansas: 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Point Rock Room, 625 Colorado
Springfield, Colorado: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Minnick Building - Baca County Fairgrounds
28500 County Road 24.6,
Walsenburg, Colorado: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Community Center Meeting Room
928 S. Russell St.
Monument, Colorado: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Bear Creek Elementary School,
1330 Creekside Drive
Fairplay, Colorado: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
North-West Fire Protection District
21455 U.S. Highway 285
For questions or comments, contact John Dow, Forest Planner, PSICC, 2840 Kachina Dr, Pueblo, CO 81004 or by phone at: 719-553-1476. Email inquiries should be sent to email@example.com.
Also from the releases:
Only individuals or entities who submit timely and specific written comments will have eligibility (36 CFR 218.5) to file an objection under 36 CFR 218.8. For objection eligibility, each individual or representative from each entity submitting timely and specific written comments must either sign the comment or verify identity upon request. Issues raised in an objection must be based on previously submitted timely, specific written comments regarding the proposed action unless based on new information arising after the designated comment opportunities.
Yesterday the Pikes Peak Road Runners hosted a 5k to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Stephanie Wurtz, coordinator of the quickly organized event, estimates that 400 to 500 runners came out. And though participation required no registration fee or purchase of any kind, they were able to raise approximately $500 for onefundboston.org, which financially assists those affected by the tragedy and, at the time of this blog, had raised more than $29 million.
Some local runners in attendance had actually participated in this year's Boston Marathon, and all runners were encouraged to sign a banner which will make its way to the Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the marathon.
Often at the Independent we look forward to brightening your week with fun articles, witty commentary, and entertaining local news. But sometimes we find ourselves affected by non-local news, as was the case a few weeks ago when the country became transfixed by the events at the Boston Marathon.
That sad and tragic time, however, once again showed how we as a country bond tighter in the face adversity. This Monday, May 6, the Springs will do its part as the Pikes Peak Road Runners (sister program of the Boston Athletic Association) hosts a 5K to honor and remember those who were lost and injured in the tragedy.
See attached flier:
Gov. John Hickenlooper is going to sue any municipality that bans fracking. That's what the governor told CBS4 in Denver.
CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd sat down with the governor, who was blunt. He told Boyd the state will sue any local government that bans hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the drilling technique that uses high-pressure water and chemicals to extract natural gas.
As the report notes, the state first sued Longmont after it passed a fracking ban. Longmont-based activist Sam Schabacker told us that the citizens of Longmont sought the ban to prevent wells from being placed "next to homes, a middle school and a reservoir."
Fort Collins is mulling over a ban of its own, with a vote slated for March 5. According to this Coloradoan article, the mayor of Fort Collins, Karen Weitkunat, is reportedly feeling the pressure following Hickenlooper's statement:
“I personally don’t like the idea of getting sued,” she said. “My responsibility as a public official is to protect the city as well. ... I have back-and-forth feelings on that, but I don’t want to have the wrath of the governor by any means.”
Meanwhile, back in the Springs, our City Council seems poised to allow for drilling, by scheduling the second reading of the oil and gas ordinance on March 12.
So just imagine how this Colorado Springs backyard feels right now.
A rental ad posted to Craigslist yesterday uses the above photo as the dubious selling point for a downtown duplex. And while it may not win property management company A Cut Above any marketing awards, the tangled-up tarp in the foreground — combined with the decaying leaves and desolate ambience — does catch the eye.
When asked for comment, the yard quietly shed a solitary tear and turned away.
Colorado Springs was passed over to host a stage of the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge over the summer, but it will be on the route for Ride the Rockies, which is expected to bring 2,000 cyclists to town, the Colorado Springs Business Journal is reporting.
The ride runs from June 9 to 15, and will end in Colorado Springs at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. Though the ride has been around for nearly three decades, this will apparently mark only the third time it's passed through the Springs.
It pales in comparison to ascending Pikes Peak in the dead of winter, we know. But in honor of the AdAmAn Club’s 90th anniversary, the Indy's forging ahead with a narrated slideshow. I had a chance to talk with AdAmAn members about the special tradition and the challenges they face when making the unforgiving climb.
Donald Sanborn, the current President of the AdAmAn Club, has climbed most of the 14ers here in Colorado, and is on the board of directors for Barr Camp and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.Wally Wineinger, a retired Colonel, is the newest AdAmAn member, though he's been climbing with the club since 2003.
Are you an AdAmAn fan? Wish them a happy 90th anniversary in the comments section!
A big thank you to our partners for supporting us in this new venture:
The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum - The AdAmAn Collection
The Old Colorado City Historical Society - The Jim Bates Collection
And the AdAmAn Club website - www.adaman.org
Good news for cyclists: The Pikes Peak Highway will soon be open to them year-round.
The announcement comes after a successful September pilot program that opened the road to bikes.
At a city news conference today, Karen Palus, city Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services director, said the road would be "an international opportunity," that was sure to attract tourists. Closer to home, the local cycling community was thrilled by the news, she said.
"Our cyclists are so excited to be able to be up there," she said.
Pikes Peak Highway open to bicyclists year round starting Jan. 1
Pikes Peak - America’s Mountain, in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, will open the Pikes Peak Highway to unescorted bicyclists year round beginning January 1, 2013.
“After a successful pilot program in September 2012, we are very excited to open the Pikes Peak Highway to cyclists year round,” says Karen Palus, City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director. “We know avid cyclists from the Pikes Peak Region and around the world will come to experience the challenge and beauty that Pike’s Peak - America’s Mountain has to offer.”
All riders must complete a use agreement and liability waiver available at the Pikes Peak Highway tollgate. Because of the extreme nature of the mountain, children under the age of 18 must be escorted by a parent or legal guardian. Riders need to be aware that there will be vehicular traffic and construction on the Highway and should be prepared for changing weather conditions.
There is no parking near the tollgate so any riders planning to drive to the highway and then bike to the summit are encouraged to park at the Crystal Reservoir Visitors Center parking lot or above. All riders must follow all safety and traffic rules, use regulations and hours of operation.
Participants are required to pay the regular admission fee or use one of the Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain passes. North Slope fees and passes are not eligible for this opportunity.
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It's the end of an era for local off-road motorcyclists.
The U.S. Forest Service will close Captain Jack's trail and other trails in the Bear Creek watershed to motorized vehicles on Monday. The closure comes on judicial order after an environmental group sued. Connecting trails owned by Colorado Springs Utilities will also close.
From the Forest Service:
U.S. FOREST SERVICE TO IMPLEMENT TEMPORARY TRAIL CLOSURE IN BEAR CREEK WATERSHED MONDAY
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Dec. 7, 2012 — The U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Pike National Forest — Pikes Peak Ranger District is temporarily prohibiting motorized vehicles on USFS trails within the Bear Creek Watershed in El Paso County. The Order will go into effect on Monday, December 10 and remain closed until the conditions of the Settlement Agreement are met.
The following National Forest System Trails (NFST) are restricted:
• NFST 665 in its entirety
• NFST 667 from its junction with High Drive to its junction with NFST 701
• NFST 668 in its entirety
• NFST 701 in its entirety
• NFST 720 from its junction with NFST 701 to its junction with NFST 668
The Order is issued according to the terms of a Stipulated Settlement Agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the USFS entered in U.S. District Court. The CBD filed a lawsuit on September 17, 2012 citing violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) related to authorization of existing Off Road Vehicle (OHV) trails within the Bear Creek Watershed.
The public may continue to enjoy access to the area through the non-motorized trails which remain open. In addition, miles of motorized trails are available for recreational use throughout the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC).
For further information call the Pikes Peak Ranger District office at 719-636-1602, or access the PSICC webpage at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/. Navigate to “Alerts and Warnings” to read Order 12-21 and view a map of the closure area: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/psicc/alerts-notices/?aid=15778
Violators of this prohibition are punishable as a class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations or by imprisonment of not more than (6) months or both.
Motorized vehicle access to Jones Park trails closed after USFS legal settlement
Dec. 7, 2012 — In response to U.S. Forest Service trail closures resulting from a recent legal settlement between the U.S. Forest Service and the Center for Biological Diversity, Colorado Springs Utilities is closing motorized access to connecting trails on land owned by the City of Colorado Springs and managed by Colorado Springs Utilities. Specifically, motorized access to all trails that occur in the Bear Creek watershed in an area known as Jones Park, including trails 622, 622A, 667, 668, 701, 720 and 720A. See map for trail locations, will be prohibited.
“Because of the location of Jones Park trails, the action taken by the U.S. Forest Service effectively closes motorized access to Jones Park as well,” said Kirsta Scherff-Norris, Wildlife Biologist for Colorado Springs Utilities. “We believe the responsible course of action is to temporarily suspend motorized access to ensure that we do not inadvertently encourage continued use.”
The temporary closure begins Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. The area will remain closed until an assessment of the watershed is completed and any associated land management changes are determined. The process is being led by the U.S. Forest Service and in collaboration with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, and Colorado Springs Utilities. The assessment is scheduled for completion in early 2013.
The public is invited to participate in the assessment process to determine the best long-term sustainable management of the watershed.
For details about USFS actions and planned public involvement, please contact Oscar Martinez, Ecosystem Staff Officer, at 719-553-1400.
——- ORIGINAL POST, Nov. 28, 7:42 A.M. ——-
In today's paper, we report that trails in the Bear Creek watershed, including the popular Captain Jack’s trail, will soon close to motorcycles and off-road vehicles.
The move is a result of a legal settlement between the U.S. Forest Service, which owns much of the area’s land, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The latter believes that closure is necessary to protect Bear Creek as a habitat for the threatened greenback cutthroat trout.
Of all those affected by the ban, Ned Suesse, trail coordinator for the Colorado Motorcycle Trail Riders Association, is among those who fought hardest to keep the Bear Creek trails open. Reached by e-mail, he sent the following reply:
I'm out of the country and mostly offline, but I have kept up with the general state of things. The settlement is not yet final, but in my opinion, it continues a long line of faulty reasoning. However, I am somewhat optimistic that it will open the door to a proper study of the watershed that can conclude with a responsible decision.
The facts show that the large majority of sedimentation from a trail owes to the existence of the trail, not its use. So, if the trail is unsustainable for motorized use, it is most likely also unsustainable for non-motorized use- anyone who has been in the watershed during a rainstorm can see how that works. So, closing the trail to motorized use does not represent a solution to sedimentation in the stream, and this settlement does not represent a solution for the trout.
The Center's press release on the settlement is below:
Agreement Will Protect Colorado's Rare Greenback Cutthroat Trout
Motorcycles to Be Prohibited Along Only Creek Inhabited by State Fish
DENVER— The Center for Biological Diversity and the Pike and San Isabel National Forest signed a settlement agreement today that will help protect the only creek in the world inhabited by rare greenback cutthroat trout, Colorado’s state fish. The agreement prohibits motorcycles and off-road vehicles from trails along Bear Creek, just outside of Colorado Springs, and resolves a lawsuit filed by the Center in September.
“We’re so glad the Forest Service agreed to do the right thing and protect the only place in the world where greenback cutthroat trout still live in the wild,” said Tim Ream, a Center attorney. “This endangered fish has been hanging on by a thread for decades. The last thing it needs is motorcycles tearing through its only home and filling the creek with sediment.”
Greenback cutthroat trout have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1978. A DNA study earlier this year determined that Bear Creek hosted the last pure and wild population of the fish. For years, though, off-road vehicles have been severely eroding Bear Creek Canyon’s steep slopes. The runoff harms water quality and is filling in deep pools that the fish use to hide from predators and survive winters and droughts.
Under the terms of the agreement filed in federal court today in Denver, the Forest Service is required to prohibit off-road vehicles on nearly all of the five trails that run through the Bear Creek watershed. Before any part of those closed trails can be reopened, the Forest Service will have to consult, as required by the Endangered Species Act, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that trail use would not harm the threatened fish.
“I am so happy that greenback cutthroat trout are finally getting the respect they deserve,” said Jack Hunter, a longtime Colorado Springs resident and advocate for greenback. “This was a known problem for the trout for years, but thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity, Bear Creek is finally getting real protection.”
The Forest Service also plans to complete a comprehensive assessment of the watershed that could result in additional changes to protect the fragile stream. While the settlement agreement does not include the Colorado Springs Utility, closure of the Forest Service trails in Bear Creek effectively closes all access by motorcycles to the Utility’s Jones Park land. Access by hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders is not affected by the agreement.
“This is a tremendous victory for the greenback cutthroat trout and the state of Colorado,” said Ream. “With today’s agreement, the state’s fish has a shot at survival.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
City Councilor Lisa Czelatdko has made a name for herself by saying exactly what she thinks — whether online or from the dais.
But it turns out that the outspoken Councilor is also an tough cookie on a bicycle. In fact, she even rode to the top of Pikes Peak back in September.
All that cycling has turned into a moment of celebrity for Czelatdko, who is the cover girl for Peak Region Cyclist. The mag posted a story on the cover image here.
There is likely some event this year that has made you appreciate our trees.
It could be something dramatic — seeing acres of beetle-kill pines in the high country, or watching the Waldo Canyon Fire eating up our own backyard. Or it could be something ordinary, like seeing all the leaves fall in our urban forest, ushering in the brown months of winter.
Trees bring such serenity and beauty to our landscape. And they ask so little in return. But our urban trees need water, especially after years of drought. Read on to learn how to give your own urban forest the special attention it needs:
Winter Tree Watering Recommendations
City Forestry and the Palmer Tree Coalition would like to remind residents to water their trees. After several years of drought, trees in Colorado Springs could use a little extra TLC. Watering trees in fall and winter allows them to emerge healthier in the spring. Drought-stressed trees are vulnerable to disease, insect infestations, branch dieback, or even total loss.
· Water to a depth of 12” below the soil surface.
· Water slowly to saturate soil within the ‘drip-line’ of the tree canopy. Move the hose around for large trees.
· Give the same amount of water year round - 10 gallons per inch of tree diameter 1-2 times per month. An easy rule of thumb is to measure the tree trunk diameter at knee height and water for 5 minutes per inch.
· For more information:
A healthy urban forest cools our streets and homes, reduces noise, provides aesthetic value and wildlife habitat, absorbs carbon dioxide and pollutants, and reduces storm run-off. Help keep our urban forest healthy and water your trees.
The Palmer Tree Coalition is a Friends Group supporting the work of Colorado Springs City Forestry. For more information on the Palmer Tree Coalition and its spring tree planting programs, email PalmerTreeCoalition@gmail.com or call 520-7679.
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