Friday, December 23, 2016

City kills bike lanes on Research Parkway

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 3:25 PM

The map shows a city-organized "Ride on Research" meant to promote the new lanes. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • The map shows a city-organized "Ride on Research" meant to promote the new lanes.

The bike lane demonstration project on Research Parkway in northern Colorado Springs has proved a PR disaster and will be terminated.

It's too bad because the protected lanes were a new kind of infrastructure for Colorado Springs —  one cyclists have longed for. But, in my humble opinion, the project seems to have fallen victim to two fatal flaws.

First: Location. Research Parkway isn't exactly the heart of the bike commuter universe here in the Springs, so it's unreasonable to expect that the lanes would be heavily used by cyclists or embraced by the car-dependent neighborhoods nearby. Most of the city's bike infrastructure should be in places where people already ride bikes — design should follow function. And if drivers are already battling bike traffic on a particular road, there's a good chance that they will embrace bike infrastructure because it stands to make their drive easier.

Second: Misunderstanding. When the project was unveiled, city staff tried to explain that the lane being closed on Research that would then accommodate cyclists, wasn't closed to accommodate cyclists. The lane was being closed because traffic engineers felt the road was oversized and that the extra lane was making Research less safe. The bike lanes just seemed like a cool project to put in that extra space. That's a key distinction — and one that the public never seemed to fully grasp. In fact, the lanes on Research Parkway may have served only to fuel resentment from motorists toward cyclists, because they mistakenly believed they were being forced to give something up so that cyclists could take it over.

Anyway, let's hope that the lesson that the city takes away from Research Parkway isn't that protected bike lanes are a bad idea. As a cyclist myself, I think they're a great idea. However, in the future, picking a strategic location where the lanes are likely to be embraced and heavily used, as well as communicating with people who live in the area, will be key to gaining acceptance.

City of Colorado Springs Will Terminate Research
Bike Lane Demonstration Project
Public Input, Traffic Data Contribute to Decision

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – The City announced today that the bicycle lane demonstration project along Research Parkway will be terminated. The bicycle lane striping and vertical delineators will be removed as soon as weather permits.

For the safety of the travelling public, the outside travel lane will continue to be a designated bicycle lane until lane markings can be changed to reflect vehicle travel.

In an effort to manage traffic speeds on Research Parkway, the Traffic Engineering Division implemented a demonstration project to “right size” the corridor between Austin Bluffs and Chapel Hills drive from six to four travel lanes and repurposed the outside travel lane as a buffered bike lane. The project’s goals were two-fold: To manage excessive traffic speeds and to utilize the remaining pavement to create additional bicycle connections along the corridor.

“The purpose of a bicycle lane demonstration project is to assess public sentiment as well as vehicle and bicycle traffic impacts,” said Mayor John Suthers. “The Traffic Engineering Division has prepared a report on the Research Parkway demonstration project. The bottom line is that the vast majority of residents in the area of the demonstration project are opposed to the project and the vast majority of people who support it do not live in the affected area. The amount of local resident use, even in favorable fall weather, was not significant.”

The study completed by Traffic Engineering reported that changes in vehicle speeds resulting from the lane reduction did not meet expectations and was not consistent with typical results from such an effort. The city plans to address excessive vehicle speed on Research through traffic enforcement.

“Colorado Springs will continue to promote bicycle transportation because we have a large number of residents and visitors who ride bicycles for both recreational and transportation purposes. We believe the city’s attraction to cyclists will be a growing part of our tourism economy going forward and providing multi-modal transportation options will make our city more attractive to a vibrant workforce. For this reason, I continue to support the development of the 2017 Bike Master Plan. With that, the city will continue to conduct demonstration projects to assess viability of routes and locations, while assessing levels of community support or opposition.”

The City encourages the public to provide input on projects that affect traffic flow, and offers multiple opportunities for engagement, including neighborhood meetings, City Council presentations and SpeakUp!, the city’s online survey tool. Prior to implementing the demonstration project the City conducted three neighborhood meetings in Spring 2016 to notify the public of the plan and gather input.

“With projects such as this one, there are a number of factors that determine outcomes, but be assured, public input is a major element of our decision-making,” said Jay Anderson, Citizen Engagement Specialist for the City of Colorado Springs. “While community meetings have been a long-standing method for such engagement, we are pleased to continue offering new ways for citizens to engage directly with the city.”

The Ride on Research demonstration project generated over 1,300 responses, which were an impactful element of determining the path forward. Metrics are as follow.

SpeakUp! Survey on Demonstration project:
1,347 people participated
· 63 percent of respondents lived in neighborhoods surrounding the demonstration project
· 37 percent of respondents lived in other neighborhoods

Overall response to the demonstration project:
· 80.5 percent of respondents said they want the project reversed
· 14.3 percent of respondents said they really like it, and remaining respondents said they felt it required some changes to make the project more palatable.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

New law aims to improve trails, another measures economic impact

Posted By on Sat, Dec 17, 2016 at 8:24 AM

  • Bob Falcone
Last month, with broad bi-partisanship support, President Obama signed into law the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act. The law comes after a 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study which showed that the U.S. Forest Service had a $314 million backlog of trail maintenance, and that only about one-quarter of Forest Service trails actually met it's own trail maintenance standards.

The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to put together a nationwide strategy "to significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance" by not only removing obstacles that keep volunteers from doing trail maintenance, but to prioritize the use of volunteers and other partners in areas with the most severe maintenance backlogs and where backlogs are restricting access to forest lands. There is no room for the USDA to drag its feet. The department must double trail maintenance by volunteers and other partners within 5 years, and not only identify areas where significant trail maintenance is needed, but consider public input on the identified areas within three months of the law being enacted.

What this means to the Pike National Forest and to the those of us who play in it remains to be seen, but anyone who has spent time in Pike and other national forests have no doubt encountered trails that are eroded, worn out, in need of realignment or have other issues. Hopefully this will set the stage for much need maintenance work in our region.

Colorado, and much of the western U.S., relies heavily on outdoor recreation and tourism for economic stability and growth. But there has been no official or reliable way to measure the direct economic impact outdoor recreation has had on the national economy. That changed when President Obama signed in to law the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act earlier this month, which directs the U.S. Department of Commerce along with the Interior Department and the USDA to determine the direct impact that outdoor recreation has on the national economy. The law directs that employment, sales and other components of the outdoor recreation economy be taken into consideration when determining it's impact. The law also makes a point of directing the agencies to consider the impact of small "mom and pop" outdoor recreation businesses.

One can hope that the recognition of outdoor recreation on the national economy will pay dividends in the form of increased national political influence for Colorado and other western states.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

GOCO grants help trout, Ring the Peak, Manitou, Black Forest

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 12:04 PM

The greenback cutthroat trout is threatened. - DOUG KRIEGER
  • The greenback cutthroat trout is threatened.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) has allotted $250,000 worth of grants from Colorado Lottery money to our area. The money will go to projects that are near and dear to many locals. Here's a quick outline of their impact (for more, read the press release posted below):

• A planning consultant will be hired to work out environmental and trail alignment obstacles for the gap in the long-planned Ring the Peak trail, which is planned to go around Pikes Peak. The plan should be finished at the end of 2017.

• The last known habitat of the greenback cutthroat trout, the Bear Creek watershed, will see habitat restoration. Grant money will "help the county conduct a full stream survey, producing a detailed implementation plan to remove sediment and optimize the river conditions for the trout, helping ensure its long-term survival."

• Trail work and forest restoration in Pineries Open Space and Black Forest Regional Park will be completed, improving recreational opportunities, drainage issues, and wildlife habitat.

• Crews will work to create a "fire break" along the Intemann Trail, which runs along the outer edge of Manitou Springs.
GOCO awards $250,000 for Ring the Peak planning, conservation work in El Paso County

DENVER – The GOCO Board awarded four grants totaling $250,000 [recently] to projects in El Paso County.

The City of Colorado Springs, in partnership with the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC), received a $100,000 grant for the Ring the Peak Trail; El Paso County received two grants—a $75,000 habitat restoration grant for greenback cutthroat trout on Bear Creek and $45,000 in Youth Corps funding for Black Forest trails and forest restoration; and the City of Manitou Springs received a $30,000 Youth Corps grant for Intemann Trail.

The grant for the Ring the Peak Trail is part of GOCO’s new Connect Initiative trail planning grant program, which provides funding for trail projects for design, engineering, and master planning.

The grant program was created to help municipalities and their partners navigate the often complicated planning process for trails, from regional networks to first-ever master plans in communities new to trail building. The program will help trail projects get shovel-ready for construction grants also offered through Connect.

Ring the Peak is a vision decades in the making to build a contiguous trail loop around Pikes Peak. GOCO funding will hire a planning consultant to help TOSC navigate the environmental and trail alignment obstacles the group has faced, moving the project forward and facilitating the completion of the final 8- to 12-mile gap on the southwest portion of the trail.

TOSC and Colorado Springs hope to finish the trail plan by the end of 2017. Ring the Peak is one of Governor Hickenlooper’s “16 in 2016” priority trails.

Elsewhere in Colorado Springs, El Paso County received a habitat restoration grant to support the greenback cutthroat trout population in the reach of Bear Creek running through Jones Park.

In 2016, GOCO doubled funding for the habitat restoration program, which funds projects that remove invasive plant species, protect Colorado’s water supply, mitigate fire fuels, and perform other critical restoration work.

Bear Creek supports the only naturally reproducing, genetically pure population of greenback cutthroat trout in North America. The trout, which is Colorado’s state fish and listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, has been negatively impacted by excess sediment in the stream.

GOCO funding will help the county conduct a full stream survey, producing a detailed implementation plan to remove sediment and optimize the river conditions for the trout, helping ensure its long-term survival. The project also hopes to reduce the spread of aquatic diseases and overall contamination of the stream.

El Paso County also received a $45,000 Youth Corps grant for trail work and forest restoration in Pineries Open Space and Black Forest Regional Park. Crews from Mile High Youth Corps-Southern Front Range (MHYC-SFR) will mark and clear trails, construct and close trails, and thin standing trees.

Corps members will work within Black Forest Regional Park along the Palmer Divide northeast of Colorado Springs and at Pineries Open Space. The project will improve water quality, reduce stormwater runoff, improve wildlife habitat, improve public access, and assist with continued recovery from the Black Forest Wildfire of 2013.

The City of Manitou Springs received a $30,000 Youth Corps grant for a four-week fire mitigation project on Intemann Trail. Historic Manitou Springs is in an area prone to wildfires, and crews from MHYC-SFR will work to create the critical fire break along the trail on the city’s southern boundary.

GOCO awards Youth Corps funding through the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA), a statewide coalition of nine accredited youth corps groups that engage and train youth, young adults, and veterans (ages 14-25) to work on land, water, and energy conservation projects.

Corps members earn a stipend for their full-time service and an AmeriCorps education award to use toward college or trade school. The organization serves 1,700 young people annually.

To date, GOCO has invested $51.6 million in El Paso County projects and has conserved more than 8,000 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Ute Valley Park, the reconstruction of the Incline, and Colorado Springs’ Legacy Loop trail, among other projects. The Pikes Peak Region was also recently named a GOCO Inspire community and is part of a $25 million initiative to get kids outside.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,800 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

UPDATE: Strawberry Fields controversy continues

Posted By on Wed, Dec 14, 2016 at 4:43 PM

Strawberry Fields, at the center of a land exchange controversy. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Strawberry Fields, at the center of a land exchange controversy.


After posting this blog, we heard from Kent Obee, who had this to say about the mayor's "response" during public comments, a rare if not unheard-of practice.

We didn't know whether to be honored or once again rolled when the mayor inserted himself into the "citizen discussion" on Tuesday. Probably the latter. A couple of comments about what the mayor claimed.

I assume you picked up on the fact that the 16 successful land exchange figures he touted included the current Broadmoor swap. In fact, it is about 80% of the total. Most of other 15 swaps were really fairly minor and the majority of them would have been covered by the exceptions we spelled out in our proposed ballot measure. The two big exceptions to the exceptions were the swaps with Lyda Hill involving Seven Falls and the reroute of 30th Street to accommodate the parking for the new Garden of the Gods visitors center. And, yes, those probably should have gone to a vote of the people.

When the mayor talked about future good swaps that were about to happen, I believe he was referring to a proposed change in the location of the yet-to-be-built Larry Ochs sports complex. We included land obtained through the PLDO [Park Land Dedication Ordinance, which requires developers to dedicate land in their developments] process in the list of exceptions saying it was not protected until the park was actually built and dedicated. That would have allowed this exchange to take place [Larry Ochs complex exchange].

————ORIGINAL POST 4:43 P.M. WEDNESDAY, DEC. 14, 2016————————-

In the continuing saga of Save Cheyenne's efforts, board president Richard Skorman and member Kent Obee asked City Council on Tuesday to refer a measure to voters that would require a vote of the people to sell or trade away the city's park land and open space.

The plea triggered a rare response from Mayor John Suthers. We say rare, because his comments came in response to Skorman's and Obee's comments during the public comment section of the agenda. The mayor has never spoken during Council's public comments before, as far as we know.

At issue is the city's swap of 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space to The Broadmoor last May. Save Cheyenne tried to mount a ballot measure for the April 2017 election that would roll back the deal, but a judge dashed those hopes, ruling against the nonprofit.

Skorman and Obee appeared Tuesday to ask if Council might consider such a measure, and in its absence, a policy that would bar sales and trades of park land and open space, like many other Colorado cities already require. Notably, that prohibition also exists for many of the city's own parks — ones that were purchased with money from a special tax for trails, open space and parks (known as TOPS).

"What we’re looking for is something along the lines of what we already have in the TOPS ordinance — no sale, no trade, no disposal without a vote of the people," Obee said. "We want to do what is done in many many other cities in this country. Denver, for instance, has an ordinance that is much stricter than anything we were thinking about."

The Denver measure was passed in 1955 and once a park is dedicated, it is not disposable even with a vote of the people. Land acquired before 1955 is subject to sale or trade if voters approve, he said.

"This is what we’d like to see," Obee said. "Park land is special."

After he spoke, Council President called on the mayor to weigh in. Suthers said:

I would ask you to be very careful. Yes, we all know of our tremendous park system. The city has used land exchanges to enhance the system many, many times, and we don’t want to take that away. The court has held that land transactions are inherently administrative. Council is wholly competent to make these decisions. I want to make sure and ask you to spend some time talking to the parks department about how land exchanges are performed. Historically, the city has used land exchanges… to the great benefit of the parks department.

Suthers noted there have been at least 16 land exchanges since the 1960s in which 267 acres of city land was traded to others for 638 acres for the city's park system.

"Garden of the Gods would not be what it is today without strategic land exchanges," Suthers said.

He also noted the city traded part of America the Beautiful Park to enable the Cimarron and Interstate 25 interchange. "You can’t hold up projects for a city election," he said. "There are circumstances where you have to act quickly."

Then Suthers spoke of impending trades but didn't name the developer involved. Could it involve the massive Banning Lewis Ranch?

I will tell you there’s a couple of land transactions that I’m confident you will unanimously think are in the interest of Colorado Springs, but it involves acting very quickly. And the developer isn’t going to sit around for two years for an election," Suthers said. "I personally believe it would be very bad public policy to say transactions of this nature have to go to the voters. You are incredibly competent to make these decisions.

It's worth noting that while Skorman and Obee followed the Council rule by limiting their comments to three minutes each, observers said Suthers was not held to the same limit.

Councilor Bill Murray pushed back, saying, "By making these [exchanges] inherently administrative, you make them at the whim and whimsy of whatever administration is in power at the time and whatever political forces ... I personally trust the voters. I trust their ability to make an informed decision, and I believe it belongs to you [voters], not an administrator."

Save Cheyenne's lawsuit alleging the land swap with The Broadmoor was illegal is pending in District Court.
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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Enjoy Sin City without the sin

Posted By on Sat, Dec 10, 2016 at 9:34 AM

Red Rocks Canyon Nat'l Conservation Area - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Red Rocks Canyon Nat'l Conservation Area
Las Vegas is a city of excess. There’s just too much of everything — too many people, too much traffic, too many buildings and lights. It's just too much.

Having grown up near Atlantic City, I’ve come to realize that the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas and Atlantic City is mostly just a front. That kind of scene isn't for me.

But if you find yourself in Las Vegas, as I did recently, and you feel the same way I do, you'll be happy to know there's plenty of outdoor recreation available to calm your nerves and satisfy your wander lust.

A little under 20 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area is a very beautiful park with plenty of trails to explore. At over 197,000 acres in size, there's something for everyone — hiking, cycling, rock climbing and 4-wheeling. A one-way, 13-mile loop leads as deep into the area as the majority of its 2 million visitors per year ever get. But, for the hiker there are many trails of various lengths and difficulty. I hiked to the top of Turtlehead Peak, roughly 5 miles round trip that starts off easy before becoming pretty strenuous. With over 2,000’ of elevation gain, the views are stunning, and the relatively small summit still boasts great 360° views. The trail is well marked, except for the last hundred feet or so to the summit.

There is a $7 per day entry fee to enter Red Rocks Canyon; if you have a “America the Beautiful Pass” you can get in without paying at the gate.

About 45 miles north east of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park was established as Nevada’s first state park in 1935. Exiting I-15, Valley of Fire Road drops down into a wide open valley of bright red rock formations, with canyons, arches and sandy dry washes. The red rocks in the park seemed brighter to me than similar places in the southwest and may have been why it was named the Valley of Fire. Besides the incredibly beautiful rock formations, there are hundreds of petroglyphs left from the ancient people who once inhabited the area.

There are a number of hiking trails in the park that are maintained by the park staff, but you are free to roam where ever you wish, unless otherwise posted. Valley of Fire is a mecca for landscape photographers, and my brief visit was spent mostly taking photos. With only a few hours to spend there, I elected to photograph the “Fire Wave,” a formation of sandstone with curves, waves and grooves of varying shades of red and orange. It’s not as big, or as famous as the “Wave” on the Utah/Arizona border, but it’s much easier to get to, and just as pretty and photogenic.

There is a $10 fee to enter Valley of Fire and since it is a state park, National Parks passes are not accepted.

Valley of Fire Park - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Valley of Fire Park

On the most northwestern edge of the Las Vegas metro area, at the dead end of a road through yet another relatively new housing development, is Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. Established in 2014, it has no entrance gate, no visitor’s center, no established trail system, no staff and a single ranger who, I believe, divides his time between the monument and a National Park Service office in Boulder City. On my visit, I found one small sign that indicated that a National Monument even existed, but the area is open to exploration if you have the time to visit.

Tule Springs Fossil Beds Nat'l Monument - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Tule Springs Fossil Beds Nat'l Monument

This of course only scratches the surface of the outdoor recreational opportunities in the Las Vegas area. Death Valley is only a few hours west, Zion National Park a couple of hours northeast and the Grand Canyon is about 4 hours east. But if you find yourself in Las Vegas and need to get away from the maddening crowds, this should get you started.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Friday, December 9, 2016

Trump's pick for Interior no friend of America's parks, nonprofits say

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:16 AM

  • U.S. Forest Service
Environmental groups are up in arms over the nomination by President-elect Trump of Cathy McMorris Rodgers, an oil and gas friendly congresswoman, to lead the Interior Department.

The Center for Western Priorities writes:
DENVER—In response to reports that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to lead the Department of the Interior, the Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“This week, President-elect Trump told America he wants to follow in Teddy Roosevelt’s footsteps by conserving America’s parks and public lands. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, unfortunately, has shown little interest in the issues she would encounter on a daily basis as Secretary of the Interior.

“Before the Senate considers her nomination, the American people deserve to know where McMorris Rodgers stands on the issues facing our public lands today, particularly at a time when members of her party are encouraging the President-elect to take the unprecedented step of erasing national monuments from the map and selling off public lands.

“If Cathy McMorris Rodgers is confirmed, we hope she takes her new boss’s words seriously and follows in the conservation tradition of Teddy Roosevelt, not the robber barons who would have drilled, mined, and clear-cut their way across the West a century ago.”
In 2011, Cathy McMorris Rodgers was a co-sponsor of HR 1126, which would have sold off more than 3 million acres of public lands to private interests. This year, McMorris Rodgers voted against an amendment that would have prevented efforts to dispose of public lands outside of the established planning process. These positions should raise a red flag for anyone who values keeping our public lands public.

President-elect Trump this week promised to honor “the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, believe it or not, one of our great environmentalists.” When asked by a reporter earlier this year about proposals to “transfer” American public lands to states, Trump said, “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land.”

President-elect Trump’s statements are contradicted by the crusade by some members of Congress to dispose of public lands into state and private hands.
The Western Values Project also issued a statement, saying:
President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, who has pushed for the sell off of public lands owned by all Americans, is drawing a stark contrast with his previously stated desire to honor “the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt” — the iconic President that led a massive expansion of America’s Parks System.

A longtime member of the political establishment in Washington, D.C., Congresswoman McMorris-Rogers has frequently opposed the expansion of national public lands, while taking a lifetime total of $357,340 from oil and gas companies. That record is a clear sign the next Department of Interior will prioritize resource extraction over the protection of important Western landscapes that drive the outdoor economy.

Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project, issued the following statement in response to the nomination:

“Rep. McMorris-Rodgers traded Washington state’s conservation values for Washington, D.C.'s pay-to-play traditions a long time ago. During her long career in Congress she cozied up to special interests while openly leading the charge to privatize our nation’s public lands. If personnel is policy, then it’s fair to say the incoming administration is setting itself up to erase Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy of expanding and protecting our most valuable landscapes.
“The vast majority of Westerners believe that no one set of special interests should dominate the way our lands are managed. Far from draining the swamp, this pick is a clear sign that the incoming leadership is willing to rig the public lands system in favor of the extraction industry, and at the expense of access to public lands. If that’s the direction this administration goes, Westerners will hold them accountable for turning their backs on a core part of our heritage.

“The incoming administration has plenty of tools at its disposal if it wants to avoid the public lands problems of the past, and we'd be happy to be proved wrong about Congresswomen McMorris Rodgers’ commitment to making public lands work for everyone.”

1995 HEADLINE: “McMorris Seeks Halt to State Land Buys” As far back as 1995, then state representative McMorris Rodgers sponsored a bill to block a state Recreation Agency “from giving grants to buy land for parks, trails and other recreational lands.” She said at the time that “too much land is going off tax rolls and into public ownership.” [Bruce Rushton, “Legislature ’95: GOP Sends ‘Message’ With Bill on Park Lands,” The News Tribune, 02/06/95]

“McMorris said the state owns enough land, and instead of buying more land the state should manage what it owns more carefully.” She also said, “‘At a time when there's not enough funding for vital state services, the money saved should be used to fund prison and school construction.’” McMorris also “said when public lands are removed from a county tax base it is much more difficult for counties to maintain needed services.” [Staff, “McMorris Seeks Halt to State Land Buys,” The Wenatchee World, 02/12/95]

McMorris also said, “‘The government owns enough land in Washington state’.” [Michael Paulson, “Wildlife Program Threatened: GOP Wants to Curb State Land Purchases,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 02/23/95]

At a hearing on the proposal in March of 1995, McMorris “said ‘more public lands are not needed.’” [Michael Paulson, “Lobbying for State Land Buys Conservations Don’t Want a Bank,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 03/04/95]

“Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said changes are needed to limit funding for federal land acquisitions.” According to the Spokesman Review, “Federal land acquisitions are often poorly managed and inaccessible to the public, McMorris Rodgers said recently in a statement. If changes are made, it’s likely the fund could be back soon, she added. ‘As we look to reauthorization, we must bring the LWCF into the 21st Century,’ the Spokane Republican said. ‘I want to look at ways to strengthen our state and local parks and limit the practice of bureaucrats in (Division of Conservation Services) buying up large swaths of farmland and rangeland.’” [Kevin Graeler, “Republicans seek land funding change,” The Spokesman-Review, 10/04/15]

2012: McMorris opposes “removing lands from private ownership” in speech to logging industry At her 2012 keynote speech at the Society of American Foresters National Convention, McMorris Rodgers said “It is no coincidence that many of the counties with the highest unemployment rates in the country are those which are surrounded by federal forests.” McMorris’s speech advocated for return of national forests to local, private ownership saying “By removing lands from private ownership – and thus, from the local municipal tax rolls – the government stifles locally-driven development and makes rural communities more dependent on Washington, DC.”

2011: Cathy McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored “The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act” The bill would compel the Secretary of the Interior to sell federal lands throughout the West “previously identified as suitable for disposal.” [H.R. 1126, the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2011]

Since 2004, Cathy McMorris Rodgers has raked in $357,340 from the oil and gas industry. [Center for Responsive Politics - Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Industries, accessed 12/08/16]
But not everyone is critical of the selection of McMorris Rodgers. The Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association says this in a release:
It is being reported that Donald Trump will nominate Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican representative for Washington State’s 5th Congressional District and Chair of the House Republican Caucus, to be the next Secretary of the Interior.

“As the outdoor industry well knows, the U.S. Department of the Interior is one of the most important cabinet offices for our issues,” said OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts. “We believe we will have a productive and collaborative relationship with Representative McMorris Rodgers like the ones we enjoyed with Secretaries Jewell, Salazar, and Kempthorne before her.”

McMorris Rodgers currently represents several outdoor industry businesses in her district, understands that public lands and waters are the foundation of the massive $646 billion outdoor recreation economy, and was an original cosponsor of the Outdoor REC Act that was just signed into law.

When discussing the outdoor recreation economy, McMorris Rodgers said: “Here in the Northwest, spending time outdoors in nature is a way of life. For many, it’s a big part of the reason we choose to live here, and it also is an economic driver. In the West, there are 640 million acres of federal land. This land belongs to the people, and I believe it should be open to many types of activities — providing enjoyment and economic opportunity for local communities.”

OIA has an excellent relationship with McMorris Rodgers and her staff, and we would look forward to working with her to continue the investment in and protection of outdoor recreation on America's public lands.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Adding to the family, getting a dog

Posted By on Sun, Dec 4, 2016 at 9:38 AM

We're hoping to adopt this guy pretty soon. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • We're hoping to adopt this guy pretty soon.
I’ve had a few dogs in my lifetime. One or two when I was a kid, then some 30 years or so ago my wife gave me a 6 month-old Dalmatian as a Christmas gift. Fido came with us when we moved to Colorado 25 years ago. He lived to about 17 years old, a remarkably old age for that breed. Our similarly colored cat, Bebe, died some years ago at about 20 years old. We coddled our pets, and as with many — they were beloved members of our family.

With our work schedules, having pets would be a burden — not as much for us as for the pets. I’d be at work for at least 24 hours, my wife working long hours, too. So, for the last several years, we’ve been a home without any pets — even longer without a dog. Now that I’ve retired and no longer bound to a work schedule, and with hiking more and more miles each year, the time has come to change that.

The reasons for having a dog are many. On farms they may help round-up livestock. Hunters use them to flush out game. Many people use them as their eyes and ears, or to overcome other challenges. Public servants use them to flush out criminals, find missing people or locate evidence. But for most people, a dog is a pet — a companion. They're there to play, to cuddle, to run or hike. They're there when we’re in need of comfort.

I’ve missed not having a pet around the house. I want to share the happiness I see on the faces of other hikers I encounter on trails with their dogs. I want to relive the joy of coming home and being greeted by a four-legged family member who's happy to see me, no matter how rotten my day may have been.

So, to that end, I contacted All Breeds Rescue and Training a few weeks ago, inquiring about getting a dog.  My requirements were few: between one and three years old, already house-broken and big enough to accompany me on hikes. Before adoption, All Breeds' dogs are put into foster homes for some training to prepare them for their new homes. A couple of days ago, we met what we hope will be our new family member. A one-year-old pup of what looks to be Border collie and retriever mix, with a sweet disposition, smarts and a desire to play. We took to him instantly and vice versa.

Needless to say, we're very excited, and looking forward to welcoming him into our family — still working on a name, though.

To my followers on social media, I’ll apologize in advance for the plethora of dog pictures you’ll soon see posted from along the trails. Sort of like any proud new dad will do.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Photo Tour: Green Mountain, Boulder

Posted By on Sat, Oct 29, 2016 at 9:16 AM

  • Bob Falcone
If you're looking for someplace new to hike, or looking for a strenuous alternative to the Manitou Incline while it's closed for improvements, Green Mountain in Boulder is worth checking out. A somewhat strenuous hike, its reward is a lovely wooded area and very nice views at the summit. Take note, however, that this is a very popular place and parking nearby can be difficult to find. Even on the weekday that I did this loop, parking was at a premium. There is a $5 parking fee for any vehicles not registered in Boulder County. Dog control and leash regulations apply to various parts of this loop and are strictly enforced by Boulder County rangers and sheriff's office. Only half of this loop can be done with a dog — leashed or otherwise — so if you're bringing your dog, you will have to turn back at the summit.

(All distances given are approximated.)

Hike Green Mountain, Boulder
Photo Tour:  Green Mountain, Boulder Photo Tour:  Green Mountain, Boulder Photo Tour:  Green Mountain, Boulder Photo Tour:  Green Mountain, Boulder Photo Tour:  Green Mountain, Boulder Photo Tour:  Green Mountain, Boulder Photo Tour:  Green Mountain, Boulder Photo Tour:  Green Mountain, Boulder

Hike Green Mountain, Boulder

BOB FALCONEIf you're looking for someplace new to hike, or looking for a strenuous alternative to the Manitou Incline while it's closed for improvements, Green Mountain in Boulder is worth checking out. A somewhat strenuous hike, its reward is a lovely wooded area and very nice views at the summit. Take note, however, that this is a very popular place and parking nearby can be difficult to find. Even on the weekday that I did this loop, parking was at a premium. There is a $5 parking fee for any vehicles not registered in Boulder County. Dog control and leash regulations apply to various parts of this loop and are strictly enforced by Boulder County rangers and sheriff's office. Only half of this loop can be done with a dog — leashed or otherwise — so if you're bringing your dog, you will have to turn back at the summit.(All distances given are approximated.)

By Bob Falcone

Click to View 21 slides

To get there:  Take I-25 north to C-470. Take C-470 west until it crosses I-70 and joins U.S. 6. Take U.S. 6 north until it meets CO 93, and continue on CO 93 to Boulder.  In Boulder, turn west onto Baseline Road. Take Baseline Road to a sharp bend to the right. The Gregory Canyon Road is on the left at this bend, and the trailhead is at the end of the road.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Grand Canyon Prep Part III; new trails in Staunton State Park

Posted By on Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 10:17 AM

  • Bob Falcone
As my hike to the Grand Canyon's Phantom Ranch gets closer and closer, I've done more preparation for the adventure. 

The hike consists of two trails: the 7-mile South Kaibab Trail for the hike down, the 10-mile Bright Angel Trail for the hike back up. Given it's shorter distance, one would initially think that the South Kaibab Trail would be the better choice for the hike up, but there are a few reasons why this routing is used and recommended by the National Park Service.

The South Kaibab Trail is shorter because it's steeper, and while this doesn't make it a much of a joy for the downhill section, it would make going uphill even tougher, obviously — it's like going up the Manitou Incline vs. Barr Trail. Also, the Bright Angel Trail has shaded areas and fresh water, making the more strenuous and longer uphill section somewhat more comfortable.
The Phantom Ranch, located at the confluence of the Bright Angel and Phantom Creeks, was built in 1922, although, there's evidence that the location was used by Native Americans going back as far as 1050. John Wesley Powell, during his historic rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, was the first non-Native American to set foot at the site in 1869. It became popular with prospectors in the 1920's and exploded as tourist attraction after the prospectors left. The site now consists of a number of stone and wood buildings including cabins, men's and women's dorms, a dining hall, medical facility and even a helipad. Reservations are required to stay at the ranch, and are typically sold out over a year ahead of time.

As a photographer, I'm planning on taking plenty of pictures while on the trail and at the bottom, and the timing couldn't be better. The weekend of my trip coincides with the new moon, and while that means there won't be any full moon pictures, conditions will be perfect for taking photos of the Milky Way while it's overhead. (I learned how to take those kinds of photos earlier this year and look forward to putting that education to good use.)

As you can tell, I'm planning to make this trip more than just a hike.

Some local trails news:

  • Bob Falcone
  • Elk Falls
Last year I wrote about hiking the Elk Falls Overlook Trail at Staunton State Park, the newest  in Colorado's state park system. It's a gem of a park and continues to add outdoor recreation opportunities. I recently returned with a few friends to explore the new Chimney Rock and Elk Falls Trails, the latter of which takes hikers to the bottom of Elk Falls.

The trails are excellently constructed, and although the flow over the falls was much less than it would be during the spring, it was still pretty impressive. From Elk Falls we hiked to the Elk Falls Overlook, then back to the trailhead for a total of about 12.5 miles. Other trails have been built or re-routed and more trails are planned. Many of the trails in the park are multi-use, so bring your bike or your horse if you prefer. 

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Grand Canyon prep part II, and more local trail news

Posted By on Sat, Oct 8, 2016 at 10:40 AM

  • Bob Falcone
As you may recall from my previous blog, I am hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the end of the month, spending a couple of nights at the historic Phantom Ranch, and then hiking back up.  

Here's a progress report:  I've only hiked about 12 miles since last week, and not with as much elevation gain as I would've liked — blame it on being busy with other obligations.

By the time you read this, I should have hiked 12 more miles on a new trail. 

I saw an orthopedist about my chronic knee problem, too. He agrees it's again time for hyaluronic acid (rooster comb) treatment. Of course, we have to wait for the slow wheels of the insurance company to approve it — as if a 10-year successful history of treatment isn't enough to convince them. Hopefully we can get this done before the hike.

I've tightened up on my diet, after unsuccessfully "winging it" for a few months. I need the discipline of keeping better track of what I'm doing and wouldn't mind losing a few pounds before the hike.

When looking for a backpack for the hike, I found that there are lots of packs in various sizes up to about 25-liters, and lot more at 45-liters and above — I have both a 25- and a 50-liter pack — but not in the 35-liter range. To make matters worse, as a guy with only a 17" torso, finding a 35-liter pack for my size was difficult, not to mention also finding a comfortable one. The good people at Mountain Chalet had what I needed, and made sure it would fit me well. 

Overall, I'm still feeling very confident about doing this hike. As I check things off of the checklist that was provided by the organizers, and my own list, my level of anticipation increases, too.

I'll have more updates in a future blog.

Some Local Trail News:   
The U.S. Forest Service announced earlier in the week that road work that closed Mt Herman Road in Monument had been completed. The road has re-opened, allowing access to the very popular Mt Herman Trail.

Also, as of earlier this week, work was still on-going on the popular 7 Bridges Trail (Trail 622), but the trail is open up to the sixth bridge.

The Beulah Hill Fire in Pueblo County has caused significant damage, and as of this writing is being brought under control. The nearby Pueblo Mountain Park reported on their Facebook page that they had not been touched by the fire. I wrote about the park last year — it's a gem of a place, especially this time of the year. Once access to Beulah is re-opened (hopefully by the time you read this) you may want to take a ride down there and check out the fall colors and great trails.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Check out that new bike lane on Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 1:03 PM


The city is hosting a community bike ride on Saturday so that cyclists can check out the new buffered bike lane on Research Parkway. 

The #RideOnResearch Community Bike Ride will start at 11 a.m. and stretch for four miles. Riders are also invited to visit Pizza Time, where participants can grab some food and talk to Paralympic Cyclist Chris Murphy.

The new bike lanes on Research are a pilot project. The city is taking comments on the new lane  and will decide later whether to make them permanent. Though cyclists have long asked for buffered bike lanes, the response to the lanes so far has come largely from motorists who do not like the lanes. 

Cycling groups have been urging area cyclists to try the new lanes and fill out the survey. They note that if these lanes are successful, the city would likely add more of them. But if the lanes are shot down, the city would likely be hesitant to install them elsewhere. 

Here are the ride details:

Calendar Event Date:
Sat. October 08th, 2016 - 11:00am
Try out the city's first buffered bike lane demonstration project at out #RideOnReseatvh Community bike ride.

Bike Ride
This 4-mile community bike ride will take riders along Research Pkwy to try out this new project and we’ll stop along the way for a special celebration with food and bicycle fun! Other connections available for riders looking for more of a challenge.

Ride departs Briargate YMCA, 4025 Family Place Saturday, Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. Riders meet in Children’s Hospital parking lot north of the YMCA.

Bicycle Event
11 a.m.-2 p.m. in front of Pizza Time in the Union Town Center (Union Blvd/Research Pkwy)

Meet Paralympic Cyclist Chris Murphy who just returned from competing in 2016 Rio Games, and the many organizations that support bicycling in Colorado Springs.

Giveaways for younger riders, and bicycle safety tips and games.

Great deals on pizza, shaved ice and drinks.

After the ride, be sure to check out our survey on the bike lanes: www.ColoradoSprings.gov/RideOnResearch

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Getting ready for the Grand Canyon, and Crags Trail closure this fall

Posted By on Sat, Oct 1, 2016 at 9:34 AM

  • Bob Falcone
I've been fortunate enough to visit Grand Canyon National Park a number of times. As a photographer, it's one of the most visually compelling places to point a camera at. As a hiker, there are many trails around the north and south rims, and of course trails to the Colorado River that winds its way through the bottom of the canyon. Although I've hiked a number of trails on both rims — I prefer the north rim — but, I've never hiked to the bottom. It's not a hike one should do alone, at least for the first time, and I've always visited there in the summer, when the temperatures along the Colorado River can easily exceed 100 degrees.

An opportunity recently opened up for me to take part in a group hike to the Phantom Ranch, located at the bottom of the canyon, and I jumped on it. The end-of-the-month trip will include a 7-mile hike from the south rim down to the ranch, followed by a 10-mile hike back up to the south rim a couple days later. Elevation loss and gain is approximately 4700'. 

I hike hundreds of miles each year — I've done almost 550 miles so far this year — and I'm pretty confident that I can do this trip with little or no trouble. But, I want to make sure I'm in the best condition I can be. According to the coordinator of this trip there will be seven of us, plus two guides. Age-wise, at 57, I fall roughly in the middle of the participants, with three others in their 60's, two in their 50's and two in their 20's. Interesting mix, and maybe a wide range of abilities and experiences. 

Over the next few weeks leading up to the trip, I'll use this space to describe how I'm preparing both physically and with equipment for the hike.

My preparations so far have concentrated on hikes with steep ascents and descents and/or long distances. Over the last six days since my place on the trip was confirmed, I've hiked a total of 25 miles, with a total elevation gain of almost 7100'. My most recent hike was from the Crags trailhead to the Devils Playground on Pikes Peak, just under 8 miles and 2900' elevation gain.

A long time chronic issue of arthritis in one of my knees has cropped up, and the downhill parts of hikes are uncomfortable, if not a bit painful. Fortunately, a series of injections into the knee of a substance made of, of all things, rooster comb, usually cures the pain, usually for 6 months to a year. I made an appointment this week to get the shots going, and hopefully can get the series done before the trip.

The organizers have provided a pretty extensive list of items to bring on the hike, and although I have everything on the list, I don't have the recommended size backpack, with my packs being either too small, or far too large.  I'll be shopping for a new back pack soon.

This promises to be quite the experience, and I hope you follow along.

Now, some local trails news.

The US Forest Service has closed the Crags Campground for the season, and will be closing the Crags Trail (trail 664) while a contractor works to clear trees along Forest Service Road 383, likely by November. The gate on FS 383, just past the Mennonite Camp, will be closed while the work is going on. This will not only effect the popular Crags Trail, but also the Raspberry Mountain Trail and the north trailhead for Trail 704 to Horsethief Park and Falls. The closure includes access by foot/ski/snowshoes, etc. The Forest Service has no set timetable for completion of the work, saying that it is dependent on the weather.

And finally, fall colors along Hwy 67 between Divide and Cripple Creek, to include Mueller State Park and the Crags area, is peaking this weekend. Get out there for great viewing and photos.
  • Bob Falcone

Happy Trails! 

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Friday, September 30, 2016

Win a $10,000 bike for $10 and support a good cause

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 10:59 AM


The American Diabetes Association of Colorado
has their work cut out for them.

Yes, Colorado is usually rated as one of the healthiest states in the nation. But that doesn't mean that we don't have a problem with diabetes. As the Association notes, "Coloradans are increasingly feeling the effects of diabetes as 410,312 Coloradans suffer from the disease, and an additional 1.3 million more have prediabetes. It is estimated that one out of every three children born after 2000 in the United States will be directly affected by diabetes."

Since diabetes causes more death in a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined — and is a major risk factor for heart attacks — that's a serious problem. A number of factors contribute to a person developing Type 2 diabetes (by far the most common type), including genetics and ethnic heritage. Being overweight, as most Americans are, is a contributing factor as well. 

Thus, eating healthy and exercising regularly is a good way to lower your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, as well as managing the disease if you already have it. Which brings me to this $10 bike.

On Oct. 7, the American Diabetes Association of Colorado is hosting a Cycling Social at Bar K,  124 E. Costilla St., at 6 p.m. Attendees can buy $10 raffle tickets for the "Johnson & Johnson Bike," which was made locally by  Jeff Tessier of Tessier Bikes at the show, but they can also buy them in advance. It's all a part of the 2016 Tour de Cure event. 

Here's a little more information about this beautiful bike from the Tour de Cure:

• The bike is made out of Stainless Steel, which DePuy Synthes uses to create trauma products.
• The headset is made from highly polished stainless steel which represents the material and processes used by DePuy to create joint reconstruction parts.
• The red paint represents the American Diabetes Association and the Red Riders (cyclists riding with diabetes) and Red Striders (walkers or runners with diabetes) that we support! Go Red Rider!
• The chevrons on the top tube represent the lancets that people with diabetes use every single day.
• The red drops on the top tube and chainstays represent the blood needed to test blood sugar every single day.
• The wheels represent that DePuy Synthes is a one world company.
• The head tube badge represents our commitment to quality and living our CREDO
• Life with diabetes isn't always easy - but you aren't in it alone! Team DePuy Synthes participates in Tour to make a difference in the lives of people living every day with diabetes.
• The bike includes Enve Fork, White IND Hubs, Custom-Made Head Set, FSA Stem & Bar, Custom Seat, Seat Bag, & Handlebar Tape, and Campagnola Super Record 11 Groupset - total worth is over $10,000!

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UPDATE: ATTN: Cyclists. Tell the city you want these bike lanes.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 9:59 AM

Adam Jeffrey, president of SoCoVelo, has a message for any cyclists that don't think new buffered lanes on Research Parkway are a big deal: You're wrong.

Jeffrey sent out an email today to supporters calling the city's change "a crucial moment for cycling" and urging cyclists to show their support for the change. He notes that the reaction to these lanes will likely impact whether the city chooses to install more lanes in the future.

I've posted the majority of his email below:

A section of Research Parkway has been improved to reduce from 3 lanes of travel down to 2 lanes and a buffered bicycle lane. You can see some photos of it here. Which as I'm sure many of you know is a big deal for our area and sort of a crucial moment for cycling in our community ...

It is my own fear, and I believe many cycling advocates fear, that if this project fails it could set back the future development of cycling infrastructure in our region. The paint is hardly dry on the new set up and the negative comments are already coming into the city. Progress can be hard fought, just as an example lanes like this are even sometimes removed in the most cycling friendly locations like Boulder.

This is a moment where we can't let the negative voices drown out the potential. You might not live in an area of town where you'd ever considering riding on this section of road. But if this is successful I can see a potential future where perhaps the next infrastructure improvement is one you might ride. But that future won't come if we don't show support for projects like this now.

So I'm asking you do whatever you can to help support it but here are some simple things that won't take much time but can collectively matter.
Complete the city's ride on research survey found here, along with many more details: https://coloradosprings.gov/rideonresearch.

There is an event in the works on October 8th to collectively ride the new infrastructure, look for more details on it in our meetup and I hope on other social media soon. (or just reroute your next ride over there).
Share this email with your organizations and networks and encourage them to check it out / complete the survey.

Thanks for reading

Adam Jeffrey
SoCoVelo President


Buffered bike lanes could provide a safer way to ride the roads. - COURTESY KIDS ON BIKES
  • Courtesy Kids on Bikes
  • Buffered bike lanes could provide a safer way to ride the roads.

If you like to ride a bicycle in Colorado Springs, then I'm guessing you have a few gripes.

I know I do.

In fact, just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the crazy aggression that cyclists often face from drivers. The roads can feel so dangerous, in fact, that many cyclists would prefer to avoid them.

You may think city staff doesn't know that. Or that they are ignoring it. But actually, city staff is perfectly aware of the problem and are working, albeit slowly, to address it.

Case in point: Wednesday and Thursday the city will have demonstration buffered bike lanes on Research Parkway between Chapel Hills Drive and Austin Bluffs Parkway. The idea is to get some bike infrastructure in northern Colorado Springs and try out protected bike lanes — which make it so that cars can't just swerve into bikes. 

The city wants you to ride these test lanes, and then let them know what you think. If you like these lanes, the city may put in permanent buffered bike lanes on the road.

Read on for all the details:

City Tests New Bicycle Lanes in Northern Colorado Springs
Demo Bike Lanes Designed to Promote Safer Driving, Add Needed Bike Facility

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo— The City of Colorado Springs will be installing a demonstration buffered bike lane on Research Parkway between Chapel Hills Drive and Austin Bluffs Parkway, Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 28 and 29.

Public input from local bike studies has identified a need for additional bike facilities and enhanced bicycle connections in northern Colorado Springs. Research Parkway was identified as one of the top 21 Corridors in the Pikes Peak Region for connecting multiple bike facilities with local destinations.

Because this is a new type of bike facility and the roadway will be resurfaced in 2017, the City decided to take the opportunity to test the buffered bike lanes knowing the project can be reversed or made permanent with the scheduled overlay. City crews will install the demonstration lane roadway markings with paint and flexible delineators to separate bicyclists from motorists. This method of testing has been used by other cities to evaluate the benefits of new bicycle infrastructure with minimal cost to taxpayers.

The demonstration project includes a painted buffer with vertical delineators to raise awareness of the presence of bicyclists on Research Parkway while providing separation from traffic. Research Parkway is ideal for this type of project because it uses existing infrastructure to add bicycle facilities in northern Colorado Springs and because existing and projected traffic volumes on Research Parkway are more consistent with a four-lane versus its current six-lane roadway configuration. Because minimal traffic on multiple lanes encourages speeding, modifying Research Pkwy to four vehicle lanes and two bicycle lanes should enhance safety overall by reducing vehicle speeds, providing dedicated space for bicycles outside of vehicle travel lanes and offering an improved walking environment for pedestrians.

The proposed bike lanes will provide connections to several existing bicycle facilities in the area connecting cyclists to destinations such as the future John Venezia Community Park, local schools, the Briargate YMCA, and several local shopping centers.

· Summerset Drive Bike Lanes (connects south to Chapel Hills Mall)

· Skyline Trail (near Chapel Hills Drive)

· Briargate Trail just West of Austin Bluffs (connects to east/west Woodmen Trail and Cottonwood Trail)

· Rangewood Drive Bike Lanes

· Neighborhood/local trails

What’s Next:

The City will monitor the project and continue to collect data to understand any safety and mobility changes that occur for all modes of travel. Prior to resurfacing, the City will evaluate the success of the demonstration project based on metrics of safety and roadway operations for both bicycles and vehicles. If the demonstration is determined to be a success, the facility will be re-installed with green bike lanes in high conflict areas and long-life markings.

The City has launched an online survey to gather input from people utilizing Research Parkway. Residents may learn more about buffered bike lanes and right sizing of Research Parkway, and complete the survey by visiting https://coloradosprings.gov/rideonresearch.

Colorado Springs is home to an active and vibrant bicycling community. With more than 110 miles of on-street bicycle routes, nearly 120 miles of urban bike trails and more than 60 miles of unpaved mountain bike trails, our city is committed to ensuring that biking is a convenient, safe, and connected form of transportation and recreation. Colorado Springs has achieved Silver status in the League of American Bicyclists-Bicycle Friendly Communities Program. Colorado Springs was recently recognized in the American Community Survey (ACS) as #38 for the nation’s fastest growing cities for bicycle commuting and is funded in part by a self-imposed bicycle excise tax to fund bikeway improvement within the City of Colorado Springs. For more information about bicycling programs, mobile-friendly bike racks, safety information and a map of bike lanes around the city visit www.coloradosprings.gov/bike.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Prescribed burn scheduled for Woodland Park area

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 2:23 PM

The 2013 Black Forest Fire, and the Waldo Canyon Fire the year before, made many locals fear smoke on the horizon. - FILE PHOTO
  • The 2013 Black Forest Fire, and the Waldo Canyon Fire the year before, made many locals fear smoke on the horizon.

As early as October 1, you might see smoke rising from the area around Woodland Park.

Don't panic. The Pike National Forest-Pikes Peak Ranger District is planning two prescribed burns in the area of up to 500 acres, plus some slash pile burns near Divide. The burns are expected to produce a lot of smoke, but are necessary to clear out some of the fuel that could otherwise lead to an out-of-control blaze.

Read on for details:


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., September 29, 2016 – The Pike National Forest-Pikes Peak Ranger District is preparing to continue with prescribed burning efforts. This may include up to 500 acres of broadcast burning, which involves the ignition of surface fuels within prepared units. There will be locations of broadcast burns this season. Highway 67 west project is located approximately 1/2 mile north of Woodland Park and Trout Creek project is located approximately eight miles north of Woodland Park in Teller County.

Burning may begin as early as Oct. 1 and last through the fall. Ignition will take place when weather and fuel conditions are such that the fire behavior will be within the burn plan limitations and substantial smoke impacts are unlikely to surrounding communities. If burning does take place it may continue from one to several days. Expect smoke to be visible from Woodland Park, Highway 67 and as far away as Colorado Springs and Denver. Smoke may linger in the air for several days after ignition is completed.

Vegetation types are predominately ponderosa pine, grass, mountain shrubs and aspen stands. Surface burning of the area is designed to reduce the amount of timber needles and woody debris on the forest floor and to remove a portion of small diameter trees and low-hanging branches of larger trees. In addition, prescribed burning helps to restore the health of conifer and aspen stands by improving soil nutrients and resprouting grass and shrubs for wildlife habitat.

The Pikes Peak Ranger District is also planning to conduct several pile burns north of Divide. Crews will burn slash piles on days weather is within burn plan limitations and residents can expect to see smoke in the area on those burn days.

Follow @PSICC_NF on Twitter for up-to-date information on these prescribed burns. Use #TroutCreekRX, #Hwy67WestRX and #PikesPeakRD for current prescribed fire information.

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