Bear Creek Trail Closure Proposals

March 25th, 2014

Jones Park

A few weeks ago the Forest Service had an open house about proposed trail closures due to the greenback cutthroat trout in Bear Creek. I’m not convinced they’ve studied the impacts of the trail well enough to say they’re a problem but because of settling a lawsuit with environmental groups it probably doesn’t matter what the impact is. The US Fish and Wildlife Service must approve any trail work in the Bear Creek drainage including current trail maintenance.

At the open house, 3 alternatives were shown. Alternative A is the current trail system and we know that there’s very little chance the trails will remain the same in the future. Alternatives B and C have various trail closures and re-routes.

Both new alternatives would still allow the “Missing Link” trail to be created to link Barr Trail to the Jones Park area but would make it longer because of going around Jones Park and I believe add an uphill section. Also with both proposals, High Drive would be closed to vehicle traffic but would be open to non-motorized use.

Alternative B has all of Jones Park off limits and the upper part of Bear Creek Trail (666) closed. A trail re-route from Pipeline would keep Captain Jacks away from Bear Creek and connect where Captain Jacks currently drops down from the ridge to the creek and intersects with 666. A connector would be created from Buckhorn over to 666 near Josephine Falls.

I believe Alternative C is the same as Alternative B except that all of Bear Creek Trail (666) would be closed. I don’t think you’ll find it surprising that I don’t like this plan.

One part of “Alternative B” that I’m not sure is necessary is the complete closure of Jones Park at least to non-motorized use as that area is flatter and doesn’t have nearly the erosion issues of lower on Cap’n Jacks. Most of Jones Park is Colorado Springs Utilities land and I don’t think they want to make sure they have no risk with the greenback cutthroat trout.

One effect of closing Jones Park is access to Mt. Arthur and Mt. Garfield will be more difficult. It would be nice if a trail could be built from the Section 16 area to allow more access into that area. Also there are ruins of historic buildings in the Jones Park area that would be off limits.

It’s not clear how long it will be before the whatever plan is approved will be implemented. The US Fish and Wildlife Service have until late summer to approve the plan the Forest Service submits to them.

I talked to Forest Ranger Allan Hahn at the meeting last month about how soon trail re-routes could be done after a plan was approved. Although the Forest Service doesn’t have money for the changes, he believes the plan could be implemented in a matter of weeks since so many people are willing to volunteer to get access to the area. I’m not optimistic that with all the government red tape that volunteers would be turned loose to get the re-routes done that quickly.

Now it’s time to move forward and get the best possible trails under the circumstances. Input on the proposals can be sent to the Forest Service by emailing bcc@fs.fed.us, faxing (719) 477-4233 or mailing. Comments must be received by March 27th, 2014. One thing a found from talking to the Forest Service is they don’t understand very well how people use the trails and that it would be helpful to them to know more.

The Gazette did an article that includes some of history of the Bear Creek area. Someone who is fighting against any closures also has history on the area with historic photos. At this point, I don’t believe fighting the changes is productive but the page has some interesting information.

Below is the letter the the Peak Mtb Collective has been asking people to sign at the informational meetings they’ve held. Use it as is or as a starting point for your feedback to the Forest Service. Also go to the Peak Mtb Collective page and sign up for email updates on the Bear Creek drainage trails and other Colorado Springs area trail issues.

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Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project
Pikes Peak Ranger District
601 S. Weber Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
719-477-4233
bcc@fs.fed.us

In reviewing the proposed changes to travel management and recreational activities and the improvement actions for the stream habitat in the Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project (BCWRP) area, I understand that the project’s purpose is to protect the greenback cutthroat trout as well as to maintain a balance among the many trail user groups. The area in question has a well-established, recognized trail system that is important to the outdoor lifestyle for which the Pikes Peak region is known.

As an avid user of the Bear Creek area and Pikes Peak region trail systems, I am aware of the important balance we share with our eco-system. I have read full through the proposed BCWRP proposals and I support “Alternative B” as the action plan for implementation by the Pikes Peak Ranger District. I believe “Alternative B” supports the objective of protecting the greenback cutthroat trout as well as offering a balance between access and use of this vast trail system.

Acknowledging that change is needed in the area, “Alternative A” offers little compromise regarding the ecological concerns of the project. “Alternative C” offers limited compromise by significantly limiting trail access including the complete closure of trail 666. I believe either of these plans hinders involved groups’ respective goals and could have negative long term effects.

I want to thank everyone involved in the project and look forward to seeing “Alternative B” move forward. I also extend myself as a resource in the implementation of “Alternative B” in the Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project.

Bear Creek Watershed Meeting and Feedback

February 25th, 2014

Pipeline Trail

The trails in the Bear Creek drainage are some of the most popular trails in the Pikes Peak region. Recent testing has revealed that the fish in Bear Creek (approximately 750 adults) are the sole remaining genetically pure population of greenback cutthroat trout. The population is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It seems strange that such a heavily used area is the only place that the fish have survived.

I’ve been hiking and riding these trails for over 25 years. Here’s a Jones Park ride report from a couple years ago. The Ring the Peak mountain bike race also uses these trails.

The US Forest Service was sued by environmental groups for not sufficiently protected these fish. In the fall of 2012, Bear Creek Trail (666) and Captain Jacks Trail (667) were closed to dirt bikes and camping was prohibited in the area.

Last fall the Forest Service got public input on trail closures to all users and alternative re-routes. Now they’re getting public input on proposed changes.

There’s an open house tonight (2/25/14) at the Colorado Springs Utilities’ Leon Young Service Center, 1521 Hancock Expressway from 5:30 – 7:30 PM. If you can’t make tonight’s meeting, you use the comment link on their web page through March 27th..

There’s information about the proposed trail and access changes on the Bear Creek Watershed Assessment & NEPA page on the Forest Service website. The good news is they’re proposing rerouting trails and not completely closing the area although it appears Jones Park itself would be off-limits. It appears to me from the maps that Alternative B keeps most of trail 666 except for the cool section right near the current Captain Jack intersection. Alternative C shows 666 as being closed which would be a real bummer.

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Global Fat Bike Day 2013

December 6th, 2013

Fat Bike Day in Colorado Springs

Fat bikes have become all the rage in the last year or two. Borealis Fat Bikes makes great carbon fiber fat bike frames and are located right here in Colorado Springs. They are available locally at Pro Cycling and online at Competitive Cyclist.

Tomorrow, December 7th, is Global Fat Bike Day. There are several events around the US and at least also in the UK. Some of them a listed on the Global Fat Bike Day 2013 Facebook page.

It will be very cold and snowy in Colorado Springs unlike the weather for last year’s Fat Bike event here when it was warm and dry. There will be several demo bikes including ones from Borealis Fat Bikes. Check out the details of the Colorado Springs Fat Bike event here.

Related Links:
2012 Colorado Springs Fat Bike Day Photos

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WMBA COS Halloween Fun

October 25th, 2013

WMBA COS Halloween Crit 2011

The Women’s Mountain Bike Association of Colorado Springs (WMBA COS) is having their 4th annual Halloween Costume Critter tomorrow Saturday, October 26th. Join WMBA riders in this super fun event that will have you testing your bike handling and whip cream tossing abilities, limbo flexibility, and will bring out your most outrageous inner monster.

Ride on the bike of your choice (although wider tires are strongly recommended). Or go to witness the buffoonery from the sidelines, cheer on your favorite monster and heckle others til your sides hurt! Show up in your scariest, funniest, most clever, or best duo costume for a chance to win their costume contest!

The Costume Critter will be held at the SRM Powermeters Service Center at 720 West Monument Street. Try to arrive human powered or carpool if possible as there is limited parking.

Please arrive in costume, with a helmet and on your choice of properly functioning craft. Kids race free and Kids on Bikes will be on hand helping out. Adults fun will cost $10 which goes to a very good cause- WMBA!

Prepare to enjoy a post-ride bottomless drink cup and laughter with a slew of other cyclists in your community. One of WMBA’s generous sponsors, Bristol, has donated some liquid libations which will be available for all government i.d. holding age 21 or older adults. Don’t forget to tip your bartender.

Schedule
Kids registration 1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Adult registration 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Strider ride- or whatever non-pedaled bike they ride: 2 p.m.
Kids ride- 2:15 p.m.
Older kids ride- 2:30 p.m.

Men’s start- 4 p.m.
Women’s start- 4:30 p.m.

Photos from the 2011 WMBA of COS Halloween Costume Critter

WMBA COS Halloween Crit Start 2011

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What Colorado Springs Projects are Important?

October 25th, 2013

Mount View on Cog Railway

Nick Kittle wants to know what’s important to the people of Colorado Springs. Nick used to work for Colorado Springs doing sustainability stuff but now runs his own company, Sustainovation LLC.

To find out what’s important to Colorado Springs residents, Nick created a survey with 22 possible local projects. You can chose up to 5 and rank them in importance. There’s also a box to add something that’s not on the list. It’s not an official survey but Nick likes to get things done and has connections so it’s a good way to get your voice heard.

There are several outdoor related projects including Manitou Incline improvements. I’m not sure the Incline needs to be improved but it does need to be stabilized and maintained so it doesn’t deteriorate further. Other outdoor projects include Ring the Peak (Pikes Peak), Implement the Bike Master Plan, Bike share program and Pikes Peak Greenway improvements (including waterway fixes/trail, etc).

There are a couple projects I like that aren’t on the survey. One is the trails on the South Slope of Pikes Peak that’s dragged on for years now. The other is the Missing Link Trail (temporary name) from Barr Trail over to Jones Park. That’s a trail that was approved a couple years ago but has been mired in red tape.

Deadline to complete the survey is tonight, Friday October 25th at midnight. Go fill out the survey and get your voice heard!

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Friends of Ute Valley Park

April 19th, 2013

Ute Valley Park

I live close to Ute Valley Park. It’s a beautiful 338 acre open space surrounded by neighborhoods but it’s easy to feel like you’re outside the city. I’ve been mountain biking in it for years and now that I live close I hike in it with my family.

Ute Valley is a popular with hikers, runners and mountain bikers. It has become more heavily used since the Waldo Canyon Fire closed Mountain Shadows Open Space and Blodgett Peak Open Space.

Most people don’t know that about the eastern half of the area is not part of the park but is owned by HP. There are a few No Trespassing signs near trails at the HP property boundary but people have freely used trails on HP property. Last summer’s Pro XCT in Ute Valley Park course included trails on the HP property.

Concerns about the HP property being developed and the increase in social trails prompted the creation of the Friends of Ute Valley Park (FUVP) last fall. Ute Valley has been the last Colorado Springs open space without a friends group.

Friends of Ute Valley Park Earth Day FlyerI’ve been working on the Friends of Ute Valley Park website the last couple months. I still have plenty to do on it but we’re using it post new on the park. We also have a FUVP Facebook page.

Tomorrow, Saturday April 20th, there will be an Earth Day event at the Ute Valley Park parking lot on Vindicator 9-11 AM. The park ranger, Friends of Ute Valley Park and Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates will be there with information. There will also be a brief maintenance project and park clean up. Please come out and join us.


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Trails Around Jones Park Could be Closed

April 4th, 2013

Jones Park Above Colorado Springs

Last year it was determined that the 750 greenback cutthroat trout living in Bear Creek near Jones park are the only genetically pure greenback cutthroat left. The US Forest Service was sued by environmental groups for not sufficiently protected these fish. Last fall Bear Creek Trail (666) and Captain Jacks Trail (667) were closed to dirt bikes and camping was prohibited in the area.

I’ve been hiking and riding these trails for over 25 years. Here’s a Jones Park ride report from a couple years ago. The Ring the Peak mountain bike race also uses these trails.

Now the Forest Service is proposing closing 3.5 miles of trail along Bear Creek to all users. While I’m for protecting the fish and agree there’s still erosion problems in spite of all the work the dirt bike groups have done, I have trouble believing closing the trails is necessary.

It seems strange that such a heavily used area is the only place that the fish have survived. Since they have survived, why is it necessary to close the trails? It seems that rerouting the trail in places and adding more erosion control should be sufficient.

The USFS has a webpage with a several detailed documents on the assessment process. The detailed trail assessment includes a map of the affected trails.

The proposal has some possible trail reroutes and at least one would allow connection to the proposed Missing Link Trail which would be really cool to have completed. The information on these possible reroutes start on page 74 of the trail assessment document. Medicine Wheel has some good comments on the proposals.

Tonight, Thursday March 4th, there will be an Open House from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Leon Young Service Center (1521 Hancock Expressway, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903).

If you can’t make the open house, you can provide comments through April 30th, 2013 by mail, fax, or email to:

Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project
Pikes Peak Ranger District
601 S. Weber Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(719) 477-4233 fax
bcc@fs.fed.us

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Southern Colorado Velo Kickoff Meeting

March 1st, 2013

Southern Colorado Velo 2013 Annual Meeting Flyer

Southern Colorado Velo was founded in 2010 as an inclusive bicycling club and race team. Their members include riders of all ages, ability levels and cycling disciplines. They are a giving team where experienced riders share their passion and experience. They develop camaraderie through racing, riding and training. SoCO Velo supports a developmental cycling team, and casual cycling club, participates in local trail work, educates cyclists about skills and fitness, instructs bicycle maintenance clinics and hosts local youth bike safety rodeos.

On March 1st at 6pm, 2013 Bicycle Village is hosting the SoCO Velo Kick-Off Meeting and Membership Drive. Go meet the team and others interested in joining one of the largest cycling clubs in southern Colorado! There will be a Fit Kit to check-out and try on their new SoCO Velo Pactimo custom line of cycling gear. You will be able to sign up, discuss their 2013 member benefits package, get questions answered, talk about the 2013 cycling season and submit your application for the 2013 SoCO Velo sponsored race team!

Who Should Go?

  • Interested cyclists and current SoCO Velo club and race team members.
  • Cyclists of any size, shape, age or ability who enjoy riding a bike.
  • Competitive cyclists and those who wish to compete as a sponsored cyclist in local races
  • Cyclists who want to improve riding techniques and training.
  • Cyclists who are looking for a group of people to ride with.

Club Members Get:

  • Access and invitations to social group rides and information on local events and races.
  • Focused group training rides for cycling skills and fitness.
  • Southern Colorado custom cycling gear at wholesale pricing.
  • Bicycle Village Premium Partner discount card.
  • Incredible discounts from SoCO Velo’s Sponsors– Trek Bicycles, Bell, Giro, Easton, Smith Sunglasses, Pactimo Clothing, Continental Tires and more!
  • Learn about new trails and areas to ride.

Race Team Members Get:

  • All Club Member benefits plus a race fees reimbursement incentive package.

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Manitou Incline No Trespassing Sign Photo Opp

February 22nd, 2013

Manitou Incline No Trespassing Sign Removed

The No Trespassing sign was removed from the Manitou Incline the end of January since the Incline became legal to hike on February 1st. The Incline Friends are giving you an opportunity this weekend to get your photo with the Incline No Trespassing sign one last time.

This Saturday and Sunday, February 23rd and 24th, the Incline Friends will have the old Manitou Incline No Trespassing sign at the bottom of the Incline from 7 AM until 11 AM. Donate at least $5 to help with maintaining the Incline and they’ll take your picture alongside the sign.

They’ll e-mail the photo to you or they can use your camera if you like. No limit to the number of people in the shot so bring your friends. This will be your last opportunity to get a photo with the sign and the Incline before it’s retired to the Pioneers Museum.

If you plan on heading up the Incline after getting a photo, be very careful. After a dry winter, the snows the last couple weeks have finally made the Incline snowy and icy. Make sure you have traction devices such as Stabilicers Lite, Yaktrax or Kahtoola Microspikes .

Speaking of the Incline and snow, Roger Austin shared some great photos from this morning’s sunrise on the Incline. I really wish I would have been up there to see it.

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UpaDowna Incline Happy Hour

February 7th, 2013

UpaDowna Incline Happy Hour

This is the first Thursday since the Manitou Incline was legalized. This means it’ll be the first legal UpaDowna Incline Happy hour. However until time change next month, the dawn to dusk rule will be broken.

The Incline Happy Hour was started a few years ago by the great folks at UpaDowna. Their motto is “Up a Mountain, Downa a Beer”. Their goal is to get more people in the outdoors.

Now that the Manitou Incline is legal, UpaDowna is encouraging more people to join them. They start at the bottom tie of the Incline (directions) at 6 PM and hike to the top of the Incline.

The hike takes place year round but know your limitations as the Incline can get icy and treacherous in the winter. It’s a self paced hike and not a race. It doesn’t matter what your fitness level. Generally people hang out at the top for a bit and then most head down Barr Trail.

Until time change you’ll need a headlamp to be able to see in the dark. You can also get by with a flashlight but then your hands aren’t free for balance.

Afterwards head to Kinfolks Mountain Shop in Manitou Springs. Enjoy one of the micro brews they have on tap or us hang out with other outdoor lovers. It’s located just east of Ruxton at 950 Manitou Avenue.

Although it’s free to join the Incline Happy Hour, you need to register and sign the waiver on Eventbrite. Not only is it a fun time, but there may be prizes for signing up and staying motivated throughout the year.

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