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City TOPS Rangers bring an increased presence in Open Spaces 

Utilizing funds from the Colorado Springs Trails Open Spaces and Parks sales tax, the city parks department has hired seven  "TOPS Rangers" to manage the city's TOPS purchased open spaces and trails.  With duties that encompass maintenance, education, planning, conservation, and public relations, the newly hired Rangers started work in February, according to John Stark, TOPS Park Ranger Supervisor for Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.

The new full-time, year round rangers will be responsible for TOPS properties such as Stratton, Red Rock Canyon, Blodgett Peak, and University Park Open Spaces, the Manitou Incline, part of Ute Vallley Park, and other open spaces and trails.  According to Stark, while the rangers will each be assigned as the point of contact for a specific TOPS property, they may be assigned to perform tasks at any of the TOPS locations in the city as needed, and several of the rangers may work together at a single property to work on a project.  Although the TOPS Rangers have many job functions, "the main thing our park rangers are doing is to increase presence in the parks" said Stark. "You are going to have a much better opportunity in Colorado Springs now, with our seven new permanent Park Rangers, of seeing a park ranger out in a park. Our Park Rangers are the eyes and ears of the park."

click to enlarge TOPS Rangers (L-R): Dave Absher, Mike Bowman, Hayley Noneman, Wesley Hermann, Stephanie Fields, Gillian Rossi. Not shown: Madison Peddy. - JOHN STARK, COLORADO SPRINGS PARKS DEPARTMENT
  • John Stark, Colorado Springs Parks Department
  • TOPS Rangers (L-R): Dave Absher, Mike Bowman, Hayley Noneman, Wesley Hermann, Stephanie Fields, Gillian Rossi. Not shown: Madison Peddy.

The TOPS Rangers bring with them a wide range of prior experience and education.  Four of the Rangers have Bachelor's degrees, and two have Masters degrees, and another has two Masters degrees.  Most started with the Colorado Springs Parks Department as seasonal Rangers, and several have worked for state parks systems in Colorado or other states. Some have worked for federal government agencies such as the National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Forest Service, before coming to the city parks department. Stark said he was not surprised to see a high level of education and experience in applicants for the Ranger jobs, which he attributed to the attractiveness of the Pikes Peak region and the reputation of the city's Parks Department. Additionally, all the rangers are trained in Wilderness First Aid in case an emergency arises. They are also Certified Interpretive Guides, training they will use when doing public outreach programs, including with School District 11 and the Pikes Peak Library District. 
The Rangers will be supplemented with seasonal rangers, trail crews and biologists during the summer months, according to Stark.

Colorado Springs will be taking part in the "City Nature Challenge" this weekend (April 26-29).  A worldwide event that enlists citizens to identify "as many species of wildlife, birds, plants and bugs as possible within the city limits", including parks, trails and open spaces.  Anyone can participate, and all that is needed is mobile device and the iNaturalist app. For more information: https://coloradosprings.gov/cnc19-cos

Be Good. Do Good Things.

Bob Falcone, a retired firefighter, is a photographer, hiker, and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for 27 years and is also a part time desert rat. He is chair of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board, a member of the Colorado Springs TOPS Working Committee, and is a former president of the Friends of Cheyenne CaƱon. Follow him on Twitter (
@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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