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The benefit of Cog closure, Dixon Trail eyes last leg, outdoor funding moves through capital 

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In what may be a silver-lining to the news about the Cog Railway closing, it appears that the Cog's parking lots will be made available to hikers for the duration of the closure, according to railroad traffic manager Whitney Hedgpeth. As of this writing, questions about hours of operation, fees and how the parking lot would be managed have yet to be answered.

Cheyenne Mountain State Parks' Dixon Trail to the top of Cheyenne Mountain got one step closer to completion earlier this month when the city approved using Trails and Open Space (TOPS) tax money to purchase a segment of private land through which the trail will traverse. This paves the way for completion of the trail, which park manager Mitch Martin hopes will be later this year. In the meantime,  the trail remains off-limits, and park officials aren't afraid to issue tickets to those who choose to ignore the warning signs.

The "Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations" act, which gives the State Parks and Wildlife Commission the flexibility to adjust park entry fees and hunting and fishing license fees, passed through the Colorado Senate unanimously last week and is now headed to the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee. SB-143 would allow CPW to stem a long downward slide in revenue that has seen it lose $40 million in revenue since it last adjusted in state license fees in 2005 and park entry fees in 2010.

The Colorado Lottery re-authorization bill, SB-66, continues its way through the state house after passing through the Finance Committee this past Monday. The bill has already passed through the Senate. If passed, the Colorado Lottery — the proceeds of which goes to the Great Outdoors Colorado, the Conservation Trust Fund, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and to schools — will continue to operate until 2049. GOCO and the Conservation Trust Fund provide vital funds to state, county and local parks systems, without which most could not operate without significant increases in local taxes.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, 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 25 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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