Wednesday, April 13, 2016

North Cheyenne Cañon will be sprayed for moths. Learn more tonight.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 12:06 PM

Douglas fir tussock moth larvae will be killed by spraying later this year. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • Douglas fir tussock moth larvae will be killed by spraying later this year.
In January, I wrote about the city's plan to treat parts of the urban forest for a moth infestation. 

You can read the full story here. But, in short, the area around North Cheyenne Cañon is very overgrown and at risk for fire. That risk is being exacerbated by invasive moths that could kill off trees, leaving behind dry wood. Because of that the city wants to kill the moth larvae.

To do that, the city plans to spray the forest with a bacteria. Here's part of what a I wrote about that in January:

The city, working with privative land owners, plans to spray North Cheyenne Cañon Park, Blodgett Peak, Bear Creek Cañon Park, Seven Falls, some El Pomar lands, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and possibly the NORAD area in early June. The spray will target two types of moths: the tussock moth and the Western Spruce Budworm. The moths, which are native to the area, have reached epidemic levels. That's a problem, because the larval moths feed on certain spruce and fir trees, defoliating them. While a strong tree might be able to survive losing part of its foliage, or even all of its foliage, for a single year, repeat attacks sap the tree's strength and kill it.

The area will be sprayed with a bacteria commonly found in soil, foliage, wildlife, water, and air. It kills moths and butterflies if they feed on impacted plants while in their larval stage.

Naturally, some people are concerned about the spray and want to learn more. The city will host an open house today about the spray:

Tussock Moth Aerial Treatment Plan Public Open House

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Pikes Peak Region is currently experiencing a rather aggressive infestation of two species of defoliating moths in our forests; the Douglas-fir Tussock Moth and Western Spruce Budworm which is causing thousands of trees to become defoliated, or have the needles eaten down to the branch or twig. These trees are brown and “look dead", although many may not be. In order to protect our forests, the City of Colorado Springs' Forestry Division will be implementing an aerial treatment plan in early summer of 2016.

The public open house will take place on:
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
6 to 8 p.m.
Gold Camp Elementary
1805 Preserve Dr.
Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Special thanks to our partners: El Paso County, Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado State Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Colorado State Parks.

For more information, please visit https://www.coloradosprings.gov/tussock.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Oil Well Flats is mountain bike majesty

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 2:01 PM

I heard some scuttlebutt about a new mountain biking circuit in Cañon City called Oil Well Flats, thanks in part to recent articles by The Gazette and Pinkbike

To answer the latter's query regarding "will Canon City be the next Fruita?", it's a little early to say, but sure, I guess most anything's possible. A friend and I greatly enjoyed our ride this past weekend, spending roughly four hours covering the great majority of the expanse. 

I'm not a pro-level mountain biker by any measure, but have biked for 20 years, and found the course quite challenging in several areas. (Yeah, that was me walking down part of Island in the Sky having just pulled a cactus spine out of my foot and many prickly pear needles from my hand.) Overall, it's a blast and I highly recommend it. 

Here's some cell-phone snaps that show the terrain, plus a map of the system that shows your options for which direction you care to ride it first:

A gorgeous view of the mountains. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A gorgeous view of the mountains.

Cool rock formations. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Cool rock formations.

Look out for cows — it's open grazing land. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Look out for cows — it's open grazing land.

A view in Canon City from the crest of the ridge line. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A view in Canon City from the crest of the ridge line.

One section of the Island in the Sky gets cliffy, also showing off some cool carved bowls in the rock. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • One section of the Island in the Sky gets cliffy, also showing off some cool carved bowls in the rock.

Snap a pic on your cell phone to consult while on the trail, because not all the trail markers are up yet. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Snap a pic on your cell phone to consult while on the trail, because not all the trail markers are up yet.

And a PDF map if you so desire:

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tourism is on the rise

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 2:06 PM

Cathy Ritter is excited to sell Colorado. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Cathy Ritter is excited to sell Colorado.
Colorado State Tourism Office Director Cathy Ritter offered encouraging news at a breakfast this morning at Springs Orleans.

Ritter is new to her position and is currently touring the state. She previously worked in private industry and was the State Tourism Director of the Illinois Bureau of Tourism from 1999 to 2003. She moved to Colorado in July from Washington D.C.

Ritter noted that Colorado rates 5th or 6th in states that people would most like to visit, but is the 17th most visited state. She aims to close that gap. A recent national ad campaign called "come to life" has been a part of that effort. It features beautiful photos, inspiring phrases, and poetic writing. Normally, she says, the state advertises in target markets, but additional funding from the state legislature enabled a larger reach this past year. 

Apparently, it worked. Ritter noted that the state saw a 64 percent increase trips that were influenced by marketing (an additional 2.5 million trips).

That follows a general uptick in visits to Colorado. While 2015 numbers are not yet available, Ritter says that in 2014, Colorado saw a record 71.3 million visitors.  El Paso County visitors alone spent $1.2 billion.

Aside from major campaigns, Ritter says the state: offers local tourism offices matching grants; has volunteer-driven welcome centers along the borders; is No. 1 in spending on agrotourism promotion and marketing; does innovative social media marketing; and pursues press coverage about Colorado travel. Press coverage of the state is thought to have been worth $42 million in fiscal year 2015. It generated 1.4 billion impressions.

Ritter says she will be working with communities to develop a blueprint for generating tourism across the state. She put together a similar plan for Illinois during her time there, focusing heavily on community meetings. She says the approach worked.

"Everybody got it, and it was everybody's plan," she says. 

Ritter is spending a few days in the area touring some of our top destinations. She said she's been impressed by Pikes Peak, the Air Force Academy and the United States Olympics facilities, among other attractions. She also expressed excitement about Gov. John Hickenlooper's recent "16 in 2016" announcement, that he'll be working to complete or build 16 top trail projects this year. Among the 16 is the long-unfinished Ring the Peak trail that circles Pikes Peak.
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Friday, November 20, 2015

Prescribed burns cancelled

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 1:32 PM

Fire can be healthy under the right conditions. - BRADLEY FLORA
  • Bradley Flora
  • Fire can be healthy under the right conditions.

The other day, my coworker instant-messaged me in a panic. He had seen smoke rising near Black Forest.

It turned out to be nothing, but his reaction was telling. Those of us who lived through the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires tend to get pretty worked up by the sight of smoke.

While some fires are cause for panic, not all are. Under the right conditions, fires are healthy for our forests. That's why experts set fires, known as prescribed burns. The fires thin the forest, burn off excess rubbish, and keep the remaining trees healthy and bug-resistant. While fires always carry risks — and some prescribed burns have raged out of control and caused mass destruction — most do exactly what they set out to do. The trick is to make sure conditions are perfect for controlling the blaze.

So it's reassuring to know that local experts are very picky about choosing the right time to set a prescribed burn. The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network, a group of prescribed-burn stakeholders, recently cancelled two prescribed burns near Woodland Park because perfect conditions for the fires never materialized this season. The fires will be put off until next year, because when it comes to fire, it's always better safe than sorry.
Fire Learning Network Prescribed Burns Postponed until 2016

The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network has decided to postpone its prescribed burns until next year. The group had planned to conduct burns in two areas, Catamount and Sourdough, both in the Woodland Park area. However, weather and conditions were not ripe to move forward with the projects this year.

When a controlled burn is implemented, it is conducted under very specific parameters laid out after years of planning. Daily weather conditions play a key role in whether a burn can be accomplished or not. Due to moisture levels, weather forecasts and burn restrictions, the fire managers did not feel there was a window in which to initiate the burns at this time.

The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network will revisit these projects in 2016 and will continue to keep the community apprised as to when they plan to move forward with these burns.

Please visit www.pikespeakfln.org for more information on these projects and to learn more about the Fire Learning Network.


The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network is a group of stakeholders working together to foster the safe and appropriate use of fire as a management tool for reducing wildfire risks to communities, restoring forest resilience and enabling people and nature to better adapt to and co-exist with fire. More information can be found at www.pikespeakfln.org

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Prescribed burns coming to Woodland Park area

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 11:05 AM


It is an irony that one of the best ways to prevent forest fires is to start one.

The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network plans to do exactly that starting in mid-October in two areas near Woodland Park. The prescribed burns, which are closely monitored, are meant to replicate the natural burn process that forests undergo.

Controlled fires help build healthy forests by thinning out vegetation, which makes surviving trees healthier and more fire resistant because they have to compete less for precious resources like water. It also clears out dead vegetation that can act as kindling in dry months, igniting out-of-control blazes. 

Nevertheless, many residents are fearful when they see smoke, especially after the deadly and destructive Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires. Read on for more information:

Pikes Peak Prescribed Burns Scheduled to Begin Mid-October

October , 2015 – The Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network will conduct two prescribed fire projects this fall in the Woodland Park area. The Sourdough and North Catamount burns are scheduled to take place in mid to late October, exact dates will depend on weather conditions.

Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network is a collaborative group established to bring local and regional partners together to collectively identify and implement strategies for the safe, effective and appropriate use of fire for forest management.

“Prescribed fire is a highly effective land management tool that can greatly minimize the risk of unnaturally large and damaging wildfires, while improving wildlife habitat and strengthening the health of our landscapes and watersheds,” said Jason Lawhon, Fire Manager for the Colorado Nature Conservancy. “The Fire Learning Network brings together community members and fire and land management professionals to learn from each burn experience.”

The Sourdough prescribed burn will take place over a 14.8 acre area located north of Woodland Park. It will occur on private property off of Sourdough road just south of the Manitou Experimental Forest. Organized primarily through the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, North East Teller Fire and The Nature Conservancy, the goals of the project are to reduce hazardous fire fuels and increase understory grass and plant recovery after a previous forest thinning project.

The burn will take place any time after October 12. The exact date will depend on weather and fuel conditions. There will be one day of burning and crews will remain on scene for multiple days after the burn to monitor the fire until it is completely extinguished.
“Without prescribed fire, we as a society cannot hope to achieve the goals of forest resiliency, community protection, and watershed health,” said Jonathan Bruno, Chief Operation Officer of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. “These are all critical to protecting people, property, and ecosystems.”

The North Catamount prescribed burn will take place on a 105 acre area located on the
Colorado Springs Utilities’ North Slope Watershed near the North Catamount Reservoir.
Colorado Springs Utilities is the lead Network member on this project with goals of protecting water supply and infrastructure in its watersheds as well as improving forest heath and reducing fuels.

The burn is scheduled to take place any time after October 18 depending on conditions. There will be 1 to 2 days of burning with crews on the scene for multiple days after monitoring until it is completely extinguished.

“Over the past 20 years, multiple fuel reduction projects have been completed on the North Slope using hand crews and other mechanical techniques,” said Eric Howell, Colorado Springs Utilities Forest Program Manager. “Over time, however, wildfire conditions have increased. We can help mitigate risks effectively and safely through the implementation of prescribed fire.”

Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network is actively working with Colorado Air Pollution and Control Division to manage potential smoke impacts from the burns. When a controlled burn is implemented, it is conducted under very specific parameters laid out after years of planning. Daily weather conditions play a key role in whether a burn can be accomplished or not. The project fire managers will be evaluating conditions and forecasted weather to make the best decision on when to initiate these burns.

The Network is working to make sure that community members are kept abreast of information regarding these burns and hope to address any concerns and questions. Once the exact dates of the burns are known, the media and public will be notified. Up to date information will also be disseminated through the Pikes Peak Fire Learning Network twitter account, @Pikespeak_FLN with related hashtags, #SourdoughRX and #CatamountRX.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Building trails with thrifted clothes

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 8:27 AM

Unfortunately, not everything sold at our yard sale. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Unfortunately, not everything sold at our yard sale.
Over the weekend, my friends and I had a yard sale.

We thought we had done a pretty excellent job of it — placing signs at major intersections, letting our social networks know about the sale on Facebook and Twitter, pitching a big tent, and setting up an iPad for credit card sales. Despite our efforts, it was slow going throughout the day, and we eventually turned to our smartphones to post photos of our merchandise in an attempt to drum up sales.

It worked — to an extent. But at the end of the day, there were plenty of leftovers for the the thrift store. It was just a question of which thrift store to go to. Then I remembered that a new thrift store, Shift Thrift, had replied to one of my tweets, saying they'd love the leftovers.

I had recently heard of the store from a press release, and Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, had also emailed me to tell me about the store. It was a new shop, she wrote, and a new concept.

Shift Thrift is a social enterprise. It gives 30 percent of its proceeds to local charities — and donors get to choose what nonprofit they want to give to. Right now, donors can choose Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Trails and Open Space Coalition, Kids on Bikes, The Home Front Cares, Blue Star Recyclers or Springs Rescue Mission.

Davies let me know that a similar model at Mountain Equipment Recyclers was feeding $300 to $400 per month into TOSC.

"For a small non profit like mine," she wrote, "that’s a big deal!"

Mike Mazzola, Executive Director of Shift Thrift Store, wrote that as far as he knows, this is the first thrift store of its kind in the country. He's hoping to grow the store and expand it regionally, or maybe even nationally.

For now, though, the store is just getting started in a temporary location at 218 W. Colorado Ave. (under the Colorado Avenue bridge). The store hopes to find a permanent downtown location soon. 

After we wrapped up the garage sale, my friends and I decided to reward Shift Thrift for their social media savvy. The friendly staff were excited to see us and more than happy to help us unload our bounty.

And since Davies bothered to email me, we chose to give the nonprofit proceeds to TOSC this time around. 

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

DATE CHANGE: County wants your input on AFA trail closures

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 12:14 PM


Here's the rest of the information from the county:

Community Meeting on Use of New Santa Fe Regional Trail Has Been Rescheduled to October 5

Interested Trail Users Encouraged to Attend

El Paso County, CO, September 23, 2015 – The community meeting on the New Santa Fe Regional Trail which was originally scheduled for September 28, 2015 has been moved to October 5, 2015.

El Paso County Parks is hosting the meeting to discuss public use of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through the Air Force Academy. Interested residents are encouraged to attend the meeting on Monday, October 5, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at Academy International Elementary School, 8550 Charity Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

El Paso County has had an easement for the seven mile section of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through the Air Force Academy since 1989. The trail section has been closed to general public use since May, 2015 due to an increased threat assessment by the US Northern Command.

El Paso County and the Air Force Academy have been in discussions regarding public access to the trail and an update on those talks will be provided. The public is encouraged to attend and provide input on the future use of the trail.

For further information, please contact County Parks at 520-7529.

——- ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 15, 1:32 P.M. ——-


If you enjoy long bike rides or hikes along the Santa Fe/Pikes Peak Greenway Trail, than you've likely encountered the on-again-off-again trail closures at the Air Force Academy.

Apparently due to security concerns, the AFA closes the trail frequently, ticking off trail users. Well, it looks like the county may want to do something about that. There's a public meeting coming up on September 28 in which El Paso County Parks will take input from citizens on the closures. (We assume screaming and cussing are discouraged.)

The county has had an easement on the AFA section of the trail since 1989, so it's possible that they may be able to keep the trail open. Or at least keep it open more often.

Here are the details:

Community Invited to Meeting on Use of New Santa Fe Trail Through U.S. Air Force Academy

Public May Provide Input on Future Trail Use

El Paso County, CO, September 14, 2015 – El Paso County Parks will host a community meeting to discuss the public use of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through Air Force Academy property.

The meeting will be Monday, September 28, 2015 at 6 p.m. at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Offices, 4255 Sinton Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80907.

El Paso County has had an easement for the seven mile section of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through the Air Force Academy since 1989. The trail section has been closed for general public use by the Air Force Academy since May, 2015 due to security concerns.

El Paso County and USAFA have been in discussions regarding public access to the trail and an update on those talks will be provided. The public is encouraged to attend and provide input on the future use of the trail.

For further information, please contact County Parks at 520-7529.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Man not attacked by bear

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 12:20 PM

click image It wasn't me. - JITZE COUPERUS
  • Jitze Couperus
  • It wasn't me.

There's an old saying in journalism that goes something like this: A dog biting a man isn't a story, but a man biting a dog is.

Well, what about a bear not biting a man?  Colorado Parks and Wildlife has concluded that a Grand Junction hunter in his 60s was not attacked by a bear, as he claimed. The man crashed his ATV after he says a bear attacked him. But the CPW says that there is "conclusive evidence that a bear did not attack this individual."

The CPW isn't releasing the hunter's name, and it clarifies that the man may have seen something that startled him. Just not a bear.


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Wildlife officers from the Grand Junction area have completed their investigation of the reported bear attack and mauling on the Grand Mesa Saturday evening, concluding that the injuries to the individual were not caused by a bear.

The man, a hunter in his late 60s, was parked on his ATV on Forest Service Road 105, above Powderhorn Ski Resort, when he says a bear approached and attacked, causing him to drive over a small cliff into large rocks below. The crash resulted in extensive but non-life threatening injuries.

"We investigated this incident thoroughly over the last three days, including the use of specially trained dogs from the USDA's Wildlife Services, examination of the injuries, and forensic crime scene examination and we found conclusive evidence that a bear did not attack this individual," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager JT Romatzke. "This individual is certain that he saw a bear. We are not discounting that he saw something that caused him to react."

Romatzke adds that some of the initial media reports that a bear had attacked and mauled the individual, based on law enforcement scanner traffic, proved to be premature.

"People get very concerned about wildlife conflicts, and it is not helpful to cause unneeded alarm," said Romatzke. "Just like a typical crime scene, all possible conflicts with wildlife require extensive investigation to come to accurate, factual conclusions. It's important for the public to get the right information, especially when it comes to issues that potentially affect their safety."

The hunter's name is not being released.

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Time is running out to register for zombie run

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 12:20 PM

The county wants you to be prepared for just about anything. - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • The county wants you to be prepared for just about anything.

You have until Thursday to register for this Saturday's 3k run from the undead.

El Paso County's Be Prepared… Don’t Be A Zombie 2015 Zombie Run will be hosted at Fox Run Regional Park. The first run starts at 10 a.m. Runners will be chased by zombie hordes who attempt to take their flags. In order to get a new flag, runners have to answer a question about emergency preparedness. The point, obviously, isn't to prepare the public for zombies, but to ready them for the very real disasters like fires and floods. 

Register here. The cost is $10-$30 per runner. Proceeds will go to support community emergency preparedness activities. 
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Monday, September 21, 2015

Torch relay for peace comes to the Springs tomorrow

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 4:36 PM

click image Run founder Sri Chinmoy holds the torch. - SRI CHINMOY ONENESS-HOME PEACE RUN
  • Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run
  • Run founder Sri Chinmoy holds the torch.
You may see someone running around with a torch tomorrow. No, it's not because of the Olympics. 

The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run is the world's longest torch relay, and it's been around for 28 years. The relay is intended to promote peace and understanding. Since 1987, the torch has been passed in over 100 countries. 

The relay will include several school presentations. Cindy Stinger, who manages the USOC’s Olympians and Paralympians Association, will also receive the "Torch-Bearer Award" for her work.

Peace Run to Visit Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, CO – On Tuesday, September 22nd, Colorado Springs welcomes the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run in partnership with the Al Oerter Foundation as part of a week long run through Colorado. The world's largest and longest torch relay run is in its 28th year and has accumulated enough miles to equal over 13-times around the circumference of the earth.

While in Colorado Springs, Cindy Stinger, who manages the USOC’s Olympians and Paralympians Association will receive the Torch-Bearer Award from the Peace Run team. Former recipients include Olympian Carl Lewis, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the European Union President.

The Peace Run, now in its third decade, has passed the Torch in over 140 countries giving hundreds of thousands the opportunity to express their own yearnings for a more peaceful world. The Colorado relay begins in Colorado Springs on Sept. 22 and will travel to Denver and Boulder covering approximately 200 miles.

The Al Oerter Foundation fosters character and integrity through sports and the arts. Cathy Oerter, wife of 4-time discus Olympic Gold medalist Al Oerter, will participate with the Peace Run in Colorado. She will speak with students about the values of respect, hard work and fair-play which inspires self-confidence and a passion for excellence in all avenues of life.

During its biennial relay that will start in April 2016 the Peace Run will cover over 10,000 miles in 4 months throughout the US, Mexico and Canada. The European relay goes through 49 countries and covers around 16,000 miles. The Asia-Pacific segment will go through 13 countries.

Along the Colorado route, the runners will make presentations at multiple schools, participate in local events and visit the Olympic Training Center. Heads of state, city officials, Olympians, Nobel Laureates and celebrities have all endorsed the Peace Run that had its beginning in 1987.

The Peace Run will visit the following schools in Colorado Springs:

1. 9am – Queen Palmer Elementary School, Yampa Street
2. 11am – CIVA Charter School, Northpark Drive
3. 2pm – Colorado Springs School, Broadmoor Avenue

Sri Chinmoy was an athlete, philosopher, artist, musician and poet who dedicated his life to advancing the ideals of world friendship and oneness.

For more information on the Peace Run and news from the participating countries please visit: www.peacerun.org

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Skip the hills, try "Pedal the Plains"

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 11:48 AM

Crowley County offers some beautiful views. - BRIENNE BOORTZ
  • Crowley County offers some beautiful views.

Back in 2011, I wrote about Crowley County, which had the unenviable distinction of being the poorest county in the state. 

Crowley was once as American as apple pie. In fact, it was places like Crowley, which grew the sugar beets that once were used to fill the country's sugar bowls, that made apple pie possible. But like other farming towns, Crowley hasn't fared so well over the decades and by the time I visited, it was slowly dying. 

I can still remember the town's leaders talking about the Pedal the Plains Bicycle Tour, which is now hosted by the Denver Post. Back then, it was a brand new idea, a way to get tourists to check out the flatlands of Colorado. The best part was that it would bring much-needed dollars to this county and the ones around it, all of which struggle to make ends meet.

Pedal the Plains is now in its fourth year. I haven't personally ridden the tour, though I've returned to Crowley to ride my bike down the lonesome roads. The people are incredibly kind, the scenery serene, and the roads long and flat. It's the type of place that makes you feel like you could keep riding forever. 

This year's tour is a bit north of Crowley, but still in Colorado's farming communities. So if you're curious about the plains, or you love riding flatlands, or you want to help out farmers and rural folks, check out the tour this year. Here's the information:

Julesburg, Holyoke and Sterling host 2015 route

​​DENVER — Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 — The fourth annual Denver Post Pedal The Plains Bicycle Tour will launch from Julesburg, Colorado for a three-day, 155 mile journey through eastern Colorado’s high plains.

From Sept. 18-20, participants will ride to stops in three host communities: Julesburg, Holyoke and Sterling. Off the bike, riders will enjoy live performances by the Flobots and Rapidgrass Quintet.

“After four great years, Pedal The Plains is the best way to experience communities on Colorado’s eastern plains,” said Hickenlooper. “We are always excited to saddle up with friends and family while visiting some incredible towns.”

The ride across Colorado’s eastern plains is a celebration of the state’s growing cycling culture, combining great rides, delicious eats and close friends. Billed as “a ride for the rest of us,” Pedal The Plains is set in the heart of western agriculture, home of the frontier spirit that inspires participants to keep pedaling.

For the first time ever, the Tour’s route will roll across the border into Nebraska. Riders will pedal away the weekend between entertainment and festivities, eat meals made with locally raised beef, pork and lamb as well as local produce and stay in accommodations ranging from tents to bed and breakfasts. Participants can enjoy their time off the bicycle seat as much as on it. From pie-eating contests to Odell Brewing Co. beer gardens to live music and games, Pedal The Plains has it all.

The Denver Post Community Foundation, which has managed the internationally renowned cycling event Ride The Rockies through 30 successful years, is also the organizer for this uniquely Colorado event.

“Our world-class team running Ride The Rockies has successfully built Pedal The Plains into an annual end-of-the-cycling-season bash not to be missed,” said Dean Singleton, Chairman of The Denver Post.

Pedal The Plains will provide numerous economic benefits and opportunities for host communities’ lodging, restaurant, retail businesses, as well as entertainment, community meals, home stays and transportation.

Established four years ago, Pedal The Plains is a celebration of Colorado’s agricultural roots and the state’s frontier heritage on the Eastern Plains. 1,000 cyclists are expected to take part in this year’s ride.

Proceeds from the ride will benefit The Denver Post Community Foundation in support of the Colorado Future Farmers of America Foundation and Colorado 4-H. Pedal The Plains and The Denver Post Community Foundation provide a $6,000 grant to both Colorado 4H and FFA, a $3,000 grant to each of the three host communities; the host communities then choose a local organization of their choice.

Viaero Wireless, the Tour’s presenting sponsor, is joined in supporting the ride by founding partners State of Colorado, Western Dairy Association, Anadarko Petroleum, Noble Energy and Suncor Energy.

“There is no greater day for a homegrown community business than one where we have a chance to give back,” said Frank Dirico, President, Viaero Wireless. “We are excited to help bring Pedal The Plains to the communities of Julesburg, Holyoke and Sterling.”

Pedal The Plains’ ride offerings include the 3-Day Tour, Century Ride and Family Fun Ride. Online registration is closed, but walk-on registration is available for all of the Tour’s ride offerings. Visit www.pedaltheplains.com for more information.

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Five simple things to do to help the Fountain Creek Watershed:

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 9:57 AM


In this week's SimpliCity, Matthew Schniper dips into how the Creek Week volunteer cleanup effort connects Fountain Creek's communities for the greater good. Fountain Creek Watershed advocates are hoping that a lot of us donate our time to pick trash from the banks during this year's Creek Week — September 26th through October 4th — or maybe adopt a stretch of the waterway to care for throughout the year. But, if for whatever reason you can't, here are five simple ways help year-round:

Find more information about Creek Week and register to volunteer at fountain-crk.org.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Colorado + $100 million = Biking state

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 11:49 AM

Bikes are bigger business than you might think. - CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
  • Bikes are bigger business than you might think.

As a cyclist, I might have done a little dance this morning when this landed in my inbox: Gov. John Hickenlooper will spend $100 million over the next four years on bicycling infrastructure in an effort to make Colorado the No. 1 state for biking.

Say it with me: "We're No. 1!"

Now, I know some of you may be eyeballing this announcement with some cynicism. I mean, $100 million is a lot of dough. But bicycling infrastructure has been found to pay off big time for local economies. And, it can be a big plus for locals and tourists. I actually wrote a story not that long ago about the strides our city is taking to try to improve bicycling infrastructure. One would hope such a large statewide initiative will help Colorado Springs meet it's goals more quickly.

The announcement was just made, so we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. But here's all the information that's been released from the governor's office:

Gov. Hickenlooper announces $100 million commitment to Colorado’s biking infrastructure

DENVER — Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 — Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced the state’s commitment of more than $100 million over the next four years to enhance Colorado’s ability to become the best state to ride a bike.

“Our goal is to make Colorado the best state for biking in the country,” said Hickenlooper. “These investments will help fuel our economic growth and tourism industry, move us toward a cleaner environment and advance our goal of being the healthiest state in the nation.”

Colorado is often ranked the fittest state, and was recently ranked the most physically active state in the country. Even with these stats, Colorado has an obesity rate of more than 21 percent, up from 16 percent in 2004. In addition, a nationwide study found that kids are only spending 4-7 minutes outside in unstructured play every day, but are spending 7-10 hours a day staring at screens. Biking is one of the ways Colorado is aiming to change these stats.

The four year plan and $100 million budget will allow Colorado to add bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, better understand and market the cycling industry and support awareness and education efforts to promote safety.

“We want to encourage riders of all shapes, sizes and abilities and make biking as safe and accessible as possible statewide,” said Ken Gart, Colorado’s bike czar. “With more than 5,000 miles of biking trails throughout the state, and events like Pedal The Plains and the USA Pro Challenge, Colorado is poised to take this lead.”

The Colorado Pedals Project, Bicycle Colorado, Great Outdoors Colorado, and many more are working with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Office of Economic Development, Colorado Tourism Office, and other state agencies, to develop the overall strategy, distribute money, and accomplish shared goals.

CDOT is committed to spend at least 2.5 percent of its construction budget on bike and pedestrian programs including infrastructure.

“Coloradans have put a high priority on providing choice in how they get from A to B, whether for commuting or for recreation, and cycling for many is a key alternative," said Shailen Bhatt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “At CDOT we believe that including cycling plans into road planning and construction will help us reduce congestion and contribute to solving the transportation challenges facing the Colorado."

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests Lottery proceeds in Colorado's rivers, parks, open space, wildlife, and trails and has been the state's single largest funding source for trails.

“GOCO is excited to be a part of this new initiative and any opportunity to leverage funding to provide places for people to get outside from the backyard to the backcountry," said Lise Aangeenbrug, GOCO executive director.

Bicycle Colorado, one of the first statewide bicycle advocacy groups in the nation, and now the largest, encourages and promotes bicycling, increased safety, improved conditions and provides a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado.

“Bicycle Colorado is excited that more children, families and new cyclists will ride thanks to the improvements this funding will provide,” said Dan Grunig, Bicycle Colorado executive director. “Improved health and a stronger economy are other perks to come from this investment in better bicycling.”

Hickenlooper made the announcement at the Interbike Conference, the largest bicycle trade event in North America, bringing together manufacturers, retailers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of cycling. He is the first governor to ever speak at the conference.


About GOCO
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 4,500 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. For more information, visit goco.org.

About Bicycle Colorado
The mission of Bicycle Colorado, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is to encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for bicyclists in Colorado. Incorporated in 1992, Bicycle Colorado has a sustained and successful history of protecting and improving access for bicyclists on Colorado roads, paths and trails. For more information, and to become a member, please visit bicyclecolorado.org

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Go for the gold (nuggets)!

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 9:07 AM

click image Gold nugget. You're a real prospector now. - JAMES ST. JOHN
  • James St. John
  • Gold nugget. You're a real prospector now.

If I ever express a desire to run, there's probably a really good reason, like a major explosion or a knife-wielding maniac. 

But I understand that not all of you share this aversion. Some people run because it's good for their heart. Some people run because it's good for their thighs. I've even heard a few weirdos describe this loathsome activity as a source of joy and fulfillment in their lives.

Here's a better reason to run: gold nuggets. Haven't you always wanted a gold nugget? I know I have. (Though, to be clear, I'm still not willing to run in exchange for one.)

Blakely + Company and the City of Cripple Creek have organized the fourth annual Mine to Mine Challenge race on Oct. 10 in Cripple Creek. Winners of the 9K road race will get real gold nuggets from the mining town's own hills. Everyone else will get a T-shirt and a chance to take in some really pretty views.

The race costs $35, and an organizer explains that it doesn't really raise any money — it's mainly intended to get people to check out Cripple Creek. 

Anyway, read on for the details, runners:

CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo., Sept. 3, 2015 – The City of Cripple Creek will host its fourth annual Mine to Mine Challenge race at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015.

This unique foot race begins across the street from a historic “Old West” mine, the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine (at the Cripple Creek Heritage Center, 9283 South Highway 67, 80813), and finishes at a modern-day working mine, the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company.

Temperatures are about 10 degrees cooler than in Colorado Springs or Denver, and this 9K-road race takes place at an altitude of 9,494 feet, so plan clothing and hydration accordingly. Although the air may be thinner, the scenery is stunning. This race is point-to-point and includes mixed flats and hills. Runners of all levels are encouraged to participate.

Top men’s and women’s overall winners will win real gold nuggets. First-place winners receive $500 in gold nuggets, second place $200 and third place $100. Every age-group winner receives a one-of-a-kind core sample ore prize from the mine. In addition, runners earn a T-shirt with a cool design and bragging rights, plus the first beer (21 and over) is free with race entry.

Transportation will be provided to the Start Line and from the finish line to the Brass Ass. Also, a bag-drop service will be available to all runners.

Be sure to check out the race After Party on Bennett Avenue at the Brass Ass parking lot, complete with a Beer Garden and live music from 1 - 9 p.m.

On race day, packet pick-up will be available at the Cripple Creek Heritage Center, starting at 7:30 a.m.

To learn more about the race or to register, go online to MinetoMineChallenge.com. Entry fee is $35.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Incline closing for much of the weekend

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 1:22 PM

  • J. Adrian Stanley

Sorry, fitness fanatics, the Incline will be closed for long stretches this weekend.

The closure is needed to clear the area for the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. For more details, read the city release below:

Manitou Incline Trail Closure

The Manitou Incline will be closed during the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon on August 15 and 16.

Colorado Springs, Colo - The Manitou Incline will be closed during the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon on August 15 and 16. On Saturday, August 15, the Incline will be reopened after the race is completed around 11 a.m. On Sunday, August 16, the Incline will be reopened around 2 p.m. after the race is completed and crews have removed the race support.

The City Parks Department highly recommends incline users to refrain from using the Incline during this weekend due to congestion and road closures. The Incline will resume normal hours of operation (dawn to dusk) on Monday, August 17.

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