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February 29th, 2012

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Manitou and Colorado Springs to Vote on Incline Today

February 28th, 2012

Manitou Incline

Update 2/28/12: Both Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs city councils unanimously approved the IGA for the Incline. That’s 2 more big steps climbed but there are many more including an act of Congress before the Incline can be legallly opened.


Today is a critical day in the legalization of the Manitou Incline for hiking or running for those that can. Both Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs will be voting on the inter-governmental agreement for managing the Incline. It is far from certain that the agreement will be approved by Manitou at this time. Keep reading to learn what you can do to help.

Manitou residents are unhappy with the traffic and parking issues. Some on the Manitou Springs City Council feel they are being forced into allowing Incline hikers because it would be difficult to stop people at this point. They also want to find a way to make Incline users to pay to use it.

The Incline Friends was created for fundraising to avoid the liability issues with charging. Not charging also removes the hassle of needing to pay when you get there and needing someone to collect fees. The plan was hammered out with input from many people and hours of people’s time. Now it’s dragged on for so long that new people think they have a better way without understanding why the plan is the way it is or they’re getting greedy.

The Manitou Springs Council special packet has the inter-governmental agreement that spells out who will be responsible for what. In general Colorado Springs is responsible for the trailhead creation and maintenance. They also are responsible for much of the maintenance of the Incline itself. They also work with the Incline Friends to raise money and apply for grants. Manitou is responsible for parking and traffic control.

There’s an interesting poll on Pikes Peak Sports about paying to park and/or hike the Incline. Out There Colorado also has a pay for the Incline poll.

From the Incline Friends

Thank you for taking an interest in the Incline. The Incline Friends now need your help!

The Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) is scheduled to be reviewed February 28 by both Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs City Councils. This is a very important document. Both city councils must approve the IGA before the Incline can be made legal and open to the public.

Here is what we need from you:

If you live in Manitou Springs – Please contact your local City Council member and encourage them to approve the agreement on February 28. Here is the message you can send (copy and paste into an e-mail):

“In order to make the Incline sustainable and legal and address the ongoing parking and traffic impacts to Manitou Springs , we will need all parties working together to make the Incline an asset for our community, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.

A key component noted in the Intergovernmental Agreement is parking regulations and a residential parking plan for Ruxton Ave. and the surrounding neighborhoods, to manage the parking and traffic.

Other components include establishing a trailhead at the base of the Incline, addressing the unsafe conditions on the Incline, fixing and maintaining the surrounding and interconnected trail system including the Barr Trail and managing the overall use of the Incline.

Please consider signing the IGA on Feb. 28. As a resident of Manitou Springs, I understand that the alternative to not moving forward with the Incline is the status quo which is not acceptable. People in large numbers (350,000 – 500,000 trips per year) will continue to use the Incline and the City of Manitou Springs can benefit from these visitors visiting our businesses and contributing to our sales and tax base.

To do nothing is not an option! Nobody likes the situation as it Is, so collaboration and cooperation with other key stakeholders is critical. If we don’t’ do anything now, it will only get worse!”

Manitou Springs City Council contacts:
Mayor Marc Snyder – msnyder@comsgov.com
Donna Ford, At large – dford@comsgov.com
Randy Hodges, At large – rhodges@comsgov.com
Gary Smith, At large – gsmith@comsgov.com
Michael Gerbig, Ward 1 – mgerbig@comsgov.com
Coreen Toll, Ward 2 – ctoll@comsgov.com
Matt Carpenter, Mayor Pro-Tem, Ward 3 – mcarpenter@comsgov.com
All members can be reached @ 719-385-5481
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________________________________________________________________________________

If you live in Colorado Springs – Please contact your local City Council member and encourage them to approve the agreement on February 28th. Here is the message you can send (copy and paste into an e-mail):

“In order to make the Incline sustainable and legal and address the ongoing parking and traffic impacts to Manitou Springs, we will need all parties working together to make the Incline an asset for Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and the Pikes Peak region.

The Intergovernmental Agreement will address Incline parking and traffic issues, establishing a trailhead at the base of the Incline, addressing the unsafe conditions on the Incline, fixing and maintaining the surrounding and interconnected trail system including the Barr Trail and managing the overall use of the Incline.

Please consider signing the IGA on Feb. 28. As a resident of Colorado Springs, I understand that the alternative to not moving forward with the Incline is the status quo which is not acceptable. People in large numbers (350,000 – 500,000 trips per year) will continue to do the incline and our entire community can benefit from having this unique treasure available to locals and visitors.

Please don’t lose this opportunity to move this process forward.”

Colorado Springs City Council contacts:
Merv Bennett, At-Large – mbennett@springsgov.com
(719) 385-5469
Lisa Czelatdko, District 3 – lczelatdko@springsgov.com
(719) 385-5470
Angela Dougan, District 2 – adougan@springsgov.com
(719) 385-5493
Scott Hente, President – shente@springsgov.com
(719) 385-5487
Bernie Herpin, District 4 – bherpin@springsgov.com
(719) 385-5492
Tim Leigh, At-Large – tleigh@springsgov.com
(719) 385-5483
Jan Martin, President Pro-Tem – jmartin@springsgov.com
(719) 385-5486
Val Snider, At-Large – vsnider@springsgov.com
(719) 385-5485
Brandy Williams, At-Large – bwilliams@springsgov.com
(719) 385-5491
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
Thank you for helping move this process forward for the benefit of all.

Time Waster of the Week

June 17th, 2010

Go to ThereIFixedIt.com and click on Kludges.  I dare you to look away. And I dare you to deny you’ve ever used duct tape, baling wire, a plastic tarp or safety pins to fix something in a, dare we say, unconventional way.

- Deb Acord

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Coyote Alert

May 5th, 2010
Coyote at the Air Force Academy

Signs of spring in the high country of the Pikes Peak region:  The first pasque flowers are blooming, hummingbirds are buzzing, and the animals are hungry.  In the back yards in Woodland Park, deer have been grazing in huge groups.  And throughout the region, coyotes, bears, and mountain lions are more active again.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife has issued its yearly reminders about how to coexist with these predators.  The agency has been inundated with calls about coyote activity, and urges people to be cautious around this wild member of the dog family.  Coyotes can prey on rabbits, mice and birds, but will also take on small cats and dogs.

What should you do?  Keep your pets on a leash while you walk them and don’t let them roam freely, even at home. Even if you have an enclosed yard, your pets could be attacked by hungry coyotes. Keep coyotes out of your trash by washing the cans with strong-smelling products such as ammonia. Remove vegetation and brush from your yard that could provide cover. Use motion-detection lights, and keep the area around your home clean – pick up pet food, compost scraps, fallen fruit and seed spilled from bird feeders.

Treat a coyote like you would treat an aggressive, non-friendly dog. If one approaches you, don’t turn your back or run, and if you are followed, make loud noises and make yourself look big.  If the animal approaches, throw rocks or other objects at it.

The DOW also has issued tips for coexisting with bears, and has a new video about mountain lion encounters.

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Celebrating Women Mountaineers

May 4th, 2010
Woman\'s Place is On Top T-Shirt

Ladies, it’s time to schedule a trip to the American Mountaineering Museum in Golden, CO. May is women’s month there, and the museum is celebrating great women mountaineers with a buy one-get one museum and event admission for women. Also, Moms get in free on Mother’s Day.

The museum is featuring a special deal on the T-shirt that commemorated the 1978 all-women expedition team on Annapurna.  “A Woman’s Place is On Top” was the theme for the expedition led by Arlene Blum.  The group was the first all-woman team to summit.  Blum wrote about her life and that historic summit in her 2005 memoir “Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life.”

For more information on the American Mountaineering Museum, including directions, go to www.mountaineeringmuseum.org

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Hiking Legend Gone

April 30th, 2010

I hiked with Peggy Parr for the first time in 1993. It was April, and Cheyenne Canyon’s trails were still clogged with thigh-deep snow. There were five women who formed a loosely organized hiking group with Peggy, and I had been invited to write a story for The Gazette about the group’s treks. We post-holed through the deep snow, covering seven miles in about four hours. We had a six-minute lunch break. Afterward, Parr said she “took it easy” on me because we had never met before and she wasn’t sure about my hiking stamina.

She was 70 then and I was …much younger. And she kicked my butt. We hiked many more times over the next decade and each time, Peggy entertained with a story or two, including her chance encounter with a naked hiker on the Barr Trail and her discovery of a dead body that had been thrown over the side of Gold Camp Road (when she was a member of El Paso County Search and Rescue).

But Peggy never talked much, and was frankly and openly annoyed by hiking groups that she determined too chatty for her tastes. She lived near Cheyenne Canyon, and that was where she could be found much of the time. But she also treasured Barr Trail and spent many days there, stopping only for short breaks at the Lunch Tree (remember the Lunch Tree?) on the way up or down.

She told me once that she only felt her age when she looked in the mirror, and that when that happened, it was “quite shocking.”

But she was philosophical about aging and hiking, and told me for a story that ran in The Gazette, “As the hiker picks up age, he can still hike quite fast and quite far but he doesn’t want to. He has gotten some wisdom with his years. He walks along, and stops to pause and see the woods.”

Peggy died April 2 at age 87.

- Deb Acord

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Top Bike Blogs

April 29th, 2010

A little over a week ago, the London Cyclist came out with a list of the Top 50 cycling blogs 2010. Yesterday Extanz posted Top 50 of the most influential cycling blogs. They both used analytical methods to determine the lists.

While I’ve heard of and visited most of the bike blogs on the lists, there were a few that at least I don’t remember seeing. If you have some time, you can find a lot of great reading from the blogs on the lists. You can also get a great list of people to follow on twitter from the London Cyclist list.

Are there any of your favorites missing from the lists?

- UltraRob

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Solstice Mountain Bikes

April 27th, 2010
Solstice Mountain Bikes

Last Thursday night I was hanging out at Kinfoks after hiking the Manitou Incline and was talking to a couple mountain bikers. I found out that one of them has designed a new inverted 4 bar rear suspension and frame to go with it.

The new bikes are Solstice mountain bikes. They’re an all mountain bike so it’s designed to be lighter and climb better than a hard core downhill bike but still handle gnarly rocks and drops. Unfortunately the only camera I had was my iPhone and so the photos are poor. You can see better photos on the Solstice website.

Chuck, the inventor, and his friend Cory had just taken Cory’s Solstice mountain bike on it’s maiden ride. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a few rides in on one of the demo bikes soon and report back with how it rides and with more details on the bikes.

- UltraRob

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Plastic Bottle Facts

April 22nd, 2010

Today is Earth Day. It was started in 1970 to increase awareness of taking care of our environment. Reducing the use of plastic bottles or at least recycling them is one of the simplest ways to show the earth some love.

Below are some facts I saw above a plastic bottle recycling bin. The amount of plastic being used is staggering. The numbers are a few years old but I’d guess they’ve gotten worse.

  • In 2006, Americans drank about 167 bottles of water each, but only recycled an average of 36 bottles per person, which equals about 50 billion plastic bottles consumed, with only 23% begin recycled. That leaves 38 billion bottles in landfills.
  • According to the Beverage Marketing Corp. the average American consumed 1.6 gallons of bottled water in 1976. In 2006 each person consumed 28.3 gallons of bottled water.
  • In 2006 we spent $15 billion on bottled water. That’s more than we spent on iPods or movie tickets. We will spend $16 billion in 2007.
  • 31% of soda bottles were recycled in 2002, BUT we only recycled 11% of water bottles.
  • Bottled water costs between $1 and $4 per gallon and 90% of the cost is in the bottle, lid and label.
  • Plastic bottles go to the landfills and take 700 years before they start to decompose.
  • Manufacturing bottle water uses over 1.5 million barrels of oil per year. In one year, that’s enough oil to fuel 100,000 cars.
  • Amazing Recycled melts plastic and whips it in an electric mixer, making a foam. The foam is spun into fibers. They take the fibers, mix it with cotton and make white T-shirts that are 50% cotton/50% soda bottles.
  • It takes 14, 20-ounce PET bottles to produce on Extra Lart T-shirt.
  • Made from recycled plastic, the nails and screws in plastic lumber hold better than wood for at least 50 years.
  • In New Baltimore, NY, the first recycled-plastic bridge made from 68,000 recycled milk jugs mixed with fiberglass is strong enough to hold cars. Plastic Lumber Corp in Chicago supplied the plastic lumber for the 30-foot long bridge.
  • 8 out of 10 plastic water bottles become landfill waste.
  • Factoring in packaging and transportation, drinking bottled water costs up to five times more than putting gas in your car.
  • A one liter soda bottle can be recycled and manufactured as a ruler.
  • The filling for one sleeping bag could be made from 85 20-ounce soda bottles

- UltraRob

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Mark Your Calendars for a South Slope Trip

April 20th, 2010
Boehmer Reservoir with Pikes Peak in the background (CSU photo)

Would you pay to explore Pikes Peak’s South Slope? Last week, the Colorado Springs City Council voted to finally allow public access on the part of Pikes Peak that contains the city’s watershed. That plan involves some sort of fee system, which has yet to be worked out.

Colorado Springs Utilities owns and manages the South Slope, which has been the subject of endless debates, surveys, public meetings, and consultant presentations for more than a decade. And until recently, those who have lobbied and worked for access to the remote area had all but given up.

Eight years ago, Gazette columnist Barry Noreen and I embarked on a project that explained the South Slope to readers. Its opening looked promising, because CSU had finally completed a master plan that included recreational options.

In that article, one trails advocate was asked why the public should have access to this area closed for decades. “Why?” Mary Burger said. “Because we own it.”

But that master plan gathered dust, and it seemed unlikely that those who worked on the plan, and even their children and grandchildren would ever be able to explore the area.

Burger is the founder of Friends of the Peak, a group formed in 1995 to work on erosion control projects on other parts of the mountain, but members of the non-profit have been interested in, and involved with, the South Slope since 1998.

Today, Burger is celebrating the surprising announcement that the South Slope will finally be opened to recreation, and that Colorado Springs Parks, Trails and Open Space department will manage it.

Just how they will manage it is still being figured out, but it will probably involve a fee system that would circumvent using tax dollars on it.

Guided tours could begin as early as June. I can’t wait. But the question remains: Would you pay to get onto the South Slope?

If you want more information, a public meeting is planned at 5 p.m. April 27 at the Leon Young Service Center, 1521 Hancock Expressway. The final plan will be released then.

- Deb Acord

Note from UltraRob: From what I’ve heard, mountain biker comments on the Pikes Peak South Slope plan presented in January had an impact and bikes will be allowed on the trails originally designated no bikes allowed. I’d encourage everyone intested in access to this area to go to the meeting and give their feedback on the latest plan.

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