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The SCIP flood control project on Fountain Creek between I-25 and 21st Street remains on hold while the city negotiates a partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers that would leverage the $11 million budgeted for that project into $32 million.

The Fountain Creek project, one of 29 SCIP endeavors totaling $88 million that were approved by voters in April of 1999, will strengthen creek banks and widen portions of the creek by 150-200 feet.

That project will displace 27 mobile homes lining the south bank of Fountain Creek in A1 Mobile Village, an affordable housing haven a half mile west of 8th Street.

SCIP real estate specialist Brad Larson said at a SCIP meeting in April that it could end up costing as much as $4.5 million -- a little more than half the amount left in the project budget -- to acquire the A1 properties and reimburse and move the displaced residents.

That, he said, might not leave enough money to do all the planned stream improvements ("Project leaves trailer park residents in the lurch," May 11).

In consequence, the city is pursuing an intergovernmental partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) that could result in an additional $21 million for flood control improvements.

The Independent learned last week that the Corps of Engineers will tell Colorado Springs that its request for an intergovernmental flood control project is "unworkable."

According to Jim White, Civil Project Management Chief at the ACE regional office in Albuquerque, the project fails to meet ACE's complicated cost-benefit formula which essentially requires $1 of permanent flood alleviation benefit for every $1 spent.

"Our preliminary work suggests that this project would deliver only a 30-cent return on the dollar, which is well below our requirements," Lewis said.

He added, however, that there is still a possibility that ACE could enter into an environmental restoration partnership with the city concerning Fountain Creek.

According to Lewis, environmental restoration includes matters like reseeding and establishing vegetation, shaping stream banks, and improving the stream for fish habitat.

The status of the proposed Army Corps of Engineers alliance will be discussed at a SCIP meeting at 3 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 7 at the City Administration Building, Room 703.

The suit filed by a coalition of trails, open space and environmental advocates against the National Forest Service this past April appears to have borne fruit.

The 29-page civil action filed by Champions of Gold Camp Trail asked the federal court to stop the Forest Service from trying to reopen Gold Camp Road to cars until the Service conducts a detailed assessment of how traffic would impact wildlife, recreation and environment along the road ("Lawsuit, low ranking snarls Gold Camp Road," May 18).

The Forest Service insists that the environmental assessment conducted in 1990 remains valid, and that no new study is warranted.

In its response to the 66 items raised in the suit, however, the Forest Service "admitted" to several key points, including that a number of conditions have changed since the 1990 study.

The Service conceded through attorney Frank Lopez that the 1990 Environmental Assessment did not consider:

how an increase in population, combined with the 1991 advent of gambling in Cripple Creek, would impact Gold Camp Road;

how widening the road, combined with an increase in traffic, might heighten the dangers of landslides on the road and on North and South Cheyenne creeks, as concluded by a geologic study;

and that the U.S. Forest Service found in 1998 that North and South Cheyenne creeks have been "seriously degraded" by bank instability, sedimentation and flow disruption in areas where the road remains open to traffic.

Champions attorney Steve Harris said, "I think the Forest Service admissions indicate that a new environmental study must be done. We've already started talking with the Forest Service about possibilities for settling prior to trial."

The Champions of Gold Camp Trail coalition includes Cheyenne Commons, a non-profit open-space advocacy group, Colorado Wild, a non-profit forest watch group, and the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

Ed.'s note: Backtracks is designed to provide follow-up to stories which originally appeared in the Independent's news pages. If you have tips, ideas or follow-up information, please send them to: Editor, The Colorado Springs Independent, 121 E. Pikes Peak Ave., Suite 455, Colorado Springs, CO 80903; by fax: 577-4107; or by e-mail: LETTERS@CSINDY.COM. We appreciate your readership and feedback.

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