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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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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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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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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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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Friday, September 9, 2016

Strawberry Fields trade featured in WSJ

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 3:37 PM

Residents protested the city's deal to trade Strawberry Fields open space for other property owned by The Broadmoor. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Residents protested the city's deal to trade Strawberry Fields open space for other property owned by The Broadmoor.
The battle over Strawberry Fields has made it to the East Coast where the controversy is featured in a story posted on line by the Wall Street Journal.

The story looks at several examples of public property being sold or traded to for-profit interests, as was the case with the 189-acre open space called Strawberry Fields. The city traded it to The Broadmoor for several hundred acres of trails easements and wilderness land.

The deal was approved in May and in July, opponents filed a lawsuit.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Flooded basements, piles of hail and zombies

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

OK, I want to talk about two things:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

5 surprising facts about homeless camps

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

5) The people who most need help are often the least likely to get it.
The HOT Team’s Iverson says there’s still a high population of people with mental illness on the streets. There are very few programs to help these people, and often those who are seriously ill will refuse help because their illness prevents them from understanding they have a problem. It’s a vexing predicament, and one that Iverson says troubles him.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bike to Work Day is tomorrow

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 11:12 AM

  • City of Colorado Springs
Tomorrow is Bike To Work Day, which means that if you ditch your car for two wheels, you can hang out with a lot of other cyclists and get a free bagel. 

The City of Colorado Springs is celebrating the day by hosting free breakfast and inviting the public to take a ride through America the Beautiful Park with Mayor John Suthers. You can register here.

Very few Springs residents ride their bikes to work on a regular basis, but most of the people I've talked to on past Bike To Work Days have said that they were surprised how easy and fun it was to commute by bike. Personally, I've observed the holiday off and on for many years, and am delighted by how much it brightens my day.

Want to give it a try? Here are the details from the city:

Join us for a bagel and fruit breakfast at a Bike to Work Day celebration location near you! The downtown celebration will be at America the Beautiful park with Mayor Suthers. We will also be at the University Village Colorado shopping center on Nevada and 10 YMCA locations throughout the city!

Join the fun with Mayor Suthers as he leads a community ride to America the Beautiful Park! Ride departs Goose Gossage Park at 6 a.m. More than 100 riders joined in the fun last year, and we’re looking to make it even bigger this year.

Mountain Metro Rides organizes Bike to Work Day activities each June to encourage bicycling for personal and community health, alternative transportation, recreation and sustainability. Help us celebrate by riding your bike to one of our many breakfast locations around the city. Invite your friends, family and coworkers to join the fun!

Worried about traffic? Here are a few "Share the Road Tips," courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation

For Drivers
· Give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing: Even if it requires crossing the center line, if it is safe – or risk a ticket.
· Wait a few seconds: If you don’t have three feet to pass then wait until there is enough room to pass safely.
· Take a brake: Reduce speed when encountering bicyclists.
· Scan, then turn: Look for bicyclists before making turns and make sure the road is clear before proceeding.

For Riders
· Cyclists must ride as far right as possible: And not impede traffic when passing other riders or riding two abreast.
· Side-by-Side Rule: Ride no more than two abreast; move to single-file if riding two abreast impedes the flow of motorized traffic.
· Ride Predictably: Scan the road, anticipate hazards, and communicate your moves to others.
· Signal First: Use hand signals to alert nearby vehicles to turns or lane changes.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Santa Fe Trail through USAFA reopens

Posted By on Tue, Jun 7, 2016 at 4:11 PM

  • Bob Falcone
The Air Force Academy reopened the portion of the Santa Fe Trail through the academy on Monday.

The trail was closed through the base due to unspecified "security concerns."

The academy's news release:
 Officials at the Air Force Academy reopened the six-mile stretch of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail running through the base to non-Defense Department ID card-holders June 6.
Col. Troy Dunn, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing, said senior officials understand the importance of the trail to the local communities, but must balance openness with safety and security.
"Only through an outstanding partnership with the County were we able to get here," Dunn said. "The support of El Paso County, the City of Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities is vital to the success of our mission. Together, we can ensure the Academy continues to accomplish its mission while minimizing the impact to our community."
Academy officials closed the trail in May 2015.
"We closed the trail to non-DOD ID card-holders due to security concerns, and it remained closed while El Paso County completed ground maintenance on the trail for public safety and could guarantee the trail was safe for pedestrian and cyclist traffic," Dunn said.
El Paso County is responsible for trail maintenance under an agreement with the Academy. The County completed trail maintenance and plans to make major repairs once it receives confirmation of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, which County Commissioner Darryl Glenn said is expected soon.
"We continue to be thankful that the Air Force Academy allows this critical section of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail to pass through the Academy," Glenn said. "We also have appreciated the patience of trail users as we addressed both safety and security concerns."
Along with the trail maintenance, the County will lead efforts to organize a trail watch group to report suspicious activity or problems on the trail. Interested citizens are encouraged to visit elpasocountyparks.com for more information.
"The citizens who enjoy the trail on a regular basis and who have offered to be additional, consistent, watchful eyes on the trail show this community's commitment to our military partners in fulfilling their mission," said County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Crags is closed for tree removal

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 2:03 PM

The Crags is really beautiful. But probably not worth a serious head wound or death. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • The Crags is really beautiful. But probably not worth a serious head wound or death.

Planning a fun hike or camping trip at the Crags this weekend? Don't. 

The Pikes Peak Ranger District has temporarily closed the area due to hazardous trees. Beetle kill trees are apparently in danger of falling on people and will need to be removed. Read on for the details:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 23, 2016…The Pikes Peak Ranger District of the Pike-San Isabel National Forest has temporarily closed the Crags area, including the Crags Campground and Forest Road 383, due to a large number of trees that pose a safety hazard to the public.

U.S. Forest Service personnel have discovered hazardous trees in areas frequently used by visitors for camping. A spruce beetle infestation several years ago has left many of the shallow rooted spruce trees standing dead along Forest Road 383. The closure will last several weeks until the hazard trees can be cut from the campground and parking areas.

This closure prohibits all public entry into the area including camping, day use, hiking, and access to the Crags and Devils Playground trails off of Forest Road 383 in Teller County.

Hazard tree removal and associated road closures are expected along FS Road 383 over the next few years. Initially, crews will work to improve safety near the campground and trailheads, but will continue working along the roadway later this fall and in future years.

Once U.S. Forest Service crews have finished cutting the hazard trees in the campground and at the trailheads, the road will re-open, however camping will be only allowed in the Crags Campground and parking will only be allowed at designated trailheads and within the campground. Dispersed camping and campfires along FS Road 383 will be prohibited due to safety concerns from the hazard trees once the road has been re-opened.
The Crags Area is a popular area for camping with the trailheads that lead to popular destinations such as the rocky outcropping of “The Crags” and the summit of Pikes Peak via the Devils Playground Trail.

Visitors are urged to take extra precautions when recreating in the area this summer due to the number of hazard trees in the vicinity.

For more information about the Crags area and closure, please contact the Pikes Peak Ranger District at (719) 636-1602. More information about alternate camping and recreation areas can also be found on Recreation.gov: www.recreation.gov or, the Pike-San Isabel National Forest public website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/psicc

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

GOCO shows us the money

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 1:47 PM

  • City of Manitou Springs
Lottery money from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) will go to fund the reconstruction of a baby pool in Manitou Springs, the expansion of sports fields in Ellicott School District, and a "facelift" for the county fairgrounds.

In all, the projects have been granted $699,413.

GOCO's board allocates funds from the Colorado Lottery around the state to preserve and enhance parks, trails and other outdoor spaces. 

Here are the details:
GOCO awards nearly $700,000 to El Paso County outdoor recreation projects

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded three grants totaling $699,413 Thursday to El Paso County communities. The City of Manitou Springs received $80,500 for the reconstruction of the public baby pool. El Paso County was awarded a $343,913 grant on behalf of the Ellicott School District to expand sports fields and a $275,000 grant for the county fairgrounds.

In Manitou, the existing pool for the city’s youngest swimmers is 44 years old, with unsafe and grossly inefficient structural issues. The pool, which is part of the larger community aquatic center, currently leaks beyond what yearly patching can fix. The pool was also designed with a hole built into one end that presents additional safety issues.

After having to turn away half of the families wanting to use the pool, GOCO funding will allow Manitou to accommodate up to 40 children. The larger pool also means new swimming classes for babies and preschool children. The GOCO grant will also build a kid-sized entry to the pool and update plumbing.

Manitou aims to have the project finished in fall 2016, aided by the local swim team that raised $1,000 for the new pool and will assist with minor construction and clean-up. Troop 18 of the Boy Scouts of America has also offered their support, including an Eagle Scout hopeful interested in the project.

In Ellicott, the school district partnered with El Paso County to receive funding for new sports fields. The current fields are at capacity, with football, baseball, and soccer all sharing fields. Expanding the athletic fields will impact the more than 1,000 students at the shared elementary, middle, and high school campus.

The school district site also serves as a community gathering place in this rural, unincorporated area of El Paso County. Many families of students come from nearby Schriever Air Force Base, and the school district serves a diverse, low-income population; 70 percent of students are on free and reduced lunch.

In addition to accommodating more student athletes, the new fields will also create the opportunity for outdoor science classes and will be used by Ellicott Metro District sports leagues. Sports fields at the school district site are the only public fields in the community.
Students will help with fundraising efforts for soccer nets and bleachers, with the school district hoping to have the project finished by September 2016.

In another rural El Paso community, the county fairgrounds will be getting a facelift to incorporate more outdoor recreation options. Located just south of Calhan, the fairgrounds support a variety of programming including El Paso County 4H, Calhan Schools, Eastern El Paso County Senior Services, and more.

Existing facilities at the fairgrounds are geared primarily toward agricultural and equestrian programming and the county fair, but the county intends to create a year-round hub for residents across the county. GOCO funding will construct an open-air pavilion, playground, splash pad, shade and landscaping, and picnic tables in addition to bringing electricity to the fairgrounds campground, fixing drainage issues on the dirt race track, and improving accessibility to the entrance.

The new pavilion will host events, including environmental educational programming, for up to 400 people, and the new playground and splash pad will be ADA-compliant. The county anticipates finishing the upgrades in September 2017 with the help of local boy scouts and 4-H members.

To date, GOCO has invested nearly $51 million in El Paso County has conserved more than 8,000 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported the reconstruction of the Manitou Incline, flood restoration at Harlan Wolf Park , and recovery from the Black Forest Fire. The Pikes Peak Region was also recently named a GOCO Inspire pilot community and will be 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 4,700 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit goco.org for more information.

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