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Panhandling in traffic, congestion in Manitou, mountain bikes in the wilderness, and more 

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Danger zones

Wouldn't it be great to pass through any downtown/west-side/east-side/north-side/south-side congested area, I-25 exit/on-ramp, underneath I-25 overpasses, every shopping mall, Walmart, Target, every stoplight, and now nearly all major roads... without seeing young kids, middle-aged substance abusers, men, women, elderly, and their dogs, camped on the median panhandling for money?

Notice I said money, that's an important point. Obviously I would never group all people under the same umbrella, but let's say 85 percent of the people panhandling don't want food, water, groceries, a free meal, or information directing them to various Colorado Springs homeless shelters and substance-abuse programs. Sounds like exaggeration but I've tried on many occasions to help with the aforementioned items, including printed-out papers with local resources.

Are we waiting for one of these people to be smashed in the roadway before we act? Some innocent driver will spend the rest of his life thinking about a senseless death he caused because we don't "police" our roadways. (CSPD should check with Manitou Springs Police Department and traffic enforcement; they're well-trained in these operations.) Can kids set up lemonade stands in these same places? Can the tamale lady occupy these dangerous areas also? Or, just people under the influence with the most potential for falling into traffic? Come on Springs we're better than this.

— William Hoopes

Colorado Springs

Willing to help

The mission of Incline Friends is to advocate for preservation and maintenance of and public access to the Manitou Incline. We recognize that Incline-related visitation has heavily impacted the residents on Ruxton Avenue and in Engelmann Canyon. Please note that Incline-related visitation is not the only issue that creates quality-of-life and public-safety issues — visitors to the Cog Railway and to Barr Trail contribute significantly to the traffic. The city of Manitou Springs has implemented some measures to try to mitigate the traffic on Ruxton, including limiting public parking, providing free parking on the eastern edge of town, along with a year-round, free shuttle from the free parking to the base of the Incline. While these measures have helped, they have not solved the problem.

The Incline is a tremendous asset to Manitou, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. It is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in free marketing and is recognized nationally and internationally. Most cities would love to have this "problem." The Incline, Ring the Peak Trail, Barr Trail, the soon-to-be "Missing Link" trail that connects Barr Trail to the Bear Creek watershed, and Colorado Springs' south slope watershed offer a world-class outdoor recreation experience. Together, they make the region a tremendous place to live and play. This is something to be celebrated, and involved parties are encouraged to work together to find solutions to issues created by the use of these resources. Incline Friends will cooperate in any manner that we can to further a solution.

— David Adair

President, Incline Friends

No bikes in the wild

We are blessed with a wide variety of public lands, an incredible heritage that can be passed on to our grandchildren, if we're vigilant. Unfortunately, population growth, energy development, ATV proliferation and other human activities have steadily eroded wildlife habitat on far too many public lands.

A new twist in this degradation involves the efforts of the Sustainable Trails Coalition (STC), pushing to allow bicycles in wilderness areas. According to the STC website, "The political stars are currently aligned in our favor on Capitol Hill. We will be working with a Republican-controlled U.S. House and Senate that philosophically favor limited government and oppose severe and overzealous regulation..."

Two GOP senators from Utah, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, are doing the STC's dirty work, pushing a bill to allow bikes in wilderness areas. They don't care about bicyclists, but they are interested in more oil wells, sulfide mines, etc.

The proposal is controversial in the biking community, and opposed by hunters, anglers and others who say bikes would degrade wildlife habitat and erode trails. Some 116 conservation and preservation organizations have formally asked Congress to oppose attempts to weaken wilderness protections via this legislation.

Here in Colorado, the Aspen-based Roaring Fork Mountain Biking Association, aligned with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), does not support the effort to open wilderness trails to mountain bikes, said Mike Pritchard, the local organization's executive director. Ashley Korenblat, a former IMBA chair, adds: "We don't need to ride our bikes everywhere."

Research shows that increased mountain bike and recreational disturbance has a negative impact on big game and other wildlife species. As a result, sportsmen's groups like Backcountry Hunters & Anglers support management planning that minimizes the impacts of mountain biking and other growing recreational demands. We believe wilderness designations work well as currently stipulated in the Wilderness Act and oppose efforts to rewrite the act to allow mountain bike and mechanized use in wilderness areas.

— David Lien

Chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

Colorado Springs

Come together

As I live in and love America, past, present and hopefully the future, I feel obligated to have a candid conversation with my mother country, my (and our) only home. Like every cherished relative, our mother, as great as she is, is not perfect. Try as she might, she can't be all things to all people, but like all good mothers she has to fight for all her children. All people are her children, and we must fight to understand each other. As brothers and sisters, united under one flag, standing, sitting or kneeling.

— Joe Debise

Falcon

Women for change

American women have had a lot to celebrate this summer. In July, we saw the first female presidential nominee of a major party. And in August, female athletes were the unquestionable breakout stars of Team USA.

Despite these high points we can't take for granted what's at stake for women in America. Women are more likely to live in poverty and work a minimum-wage job. Access to reproductive health care is threatened, and sexual assault pervades our campuses and communities.

We need quality legislation and leadership to address these critical issues. We need more women to jump into politics and begin moving up the ladder.

That's where Emerge Colorado comes in. We're Colorado's premier candidate training program, giving Democratic women the skills and network they need to run for office and win. We're recruiting for the class of 2017 now. Applications are available at emergeco.org. Let us help you be a force of change.

— Jenny Willford

Executive Director, Emerge Colorado

Denver

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