Re-Imagining Waldo Canyon holds first public meeting 

click to enlarge The popular outdoor recreation area was severely damaged during the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • The popular outdoor recreation area was severely damaged during the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire.
On Jan. 16, more than 150 outdoors enthusiasts crowded into the Hillside Community Center to attend the first of three scheduled meetings regarding the future of the Waldo Canyon burn scar.  "Re-Imagining Waldo Canyon" is an 18 month process to plan for the re-introduction of organized recreational opportunities in the area just west of Manitou Springs. Prior to the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire that destroyed the area, it was a popular hiking, cycling and camping area. It remained closed until the fall of 2017 when the US Forest Service elected not to renew the annual closure order for the parcel, in effect re-opening the area to recreation.

The planning project, funded by a $45,000 State Trails Planning grant, is headed by a group consisting of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Trails and Open Space Coalition, City of Colorado Springs and the U.S. Forest Service. TAPIS Associates was hired to manage the planning project, and other stakeholders are also part of the process. (Disclosure: I am a "citizen representative" in this group).

At the Jan. 16 meeting, the public was given a summary of the results of a public survey conducted this past fall and a list of "givens" regarding recreation in Waldo Canyon. Among the givens was that the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol have decided that the original trailhead on Hwy 24 is not going to re-open, that original Waldo Canyon trails were no longer usable, and existing prohibitions on motorized and equestrian usage, put in place by the US Forest Service in the 1960's, were going to remain in effect. 
click to enlarge The Waldo Canyon Planning public meeting was well attended - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • The Waldo Canyon Planning public meeting was well attended
After a presentation by members of the core group — minus the U.S. Forest Service, which was not represented at the meeting due to the government shutdown — and a short Q&A session, attendees gathered in groups and were asked to put together a list if concerns and desires regarding the future of recreation in Waldo Canyon, and then present them to the overall group.  The most common concerns were easy access to trailheads and parking, and building sustainable multi-use trails. Others included the effects of recreation on nearby communities, specifically emergency services and neighborhood parking. The information gleaned from the public meetings will be used to guide the planning process.

The next public workshop is scheduled for 6-8:30pm on April 17th at the Westside Community Center.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. 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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