A large crowd filled the Westside Community Center Wednesday evening at an open house to see the “Community Vision” for recreation in Waldo Canyon. The culmination of over a year’s worth of information-gathering and public input during the Re-Imagine Waldo Canyon process, the Community Vision is a compilation and consolidation of the public input received from an online survey, two community workshops and input from Waldo Canyon Roundtable members, consisting of more than 20 individuals and organizations.
The Waldo Canyon fire burned over 18,000 acres of forest west of Colorado Springs in 2012, destroying what was then one of the most popular hiking trails in the area. Since the fire, there has been keen public interest in re-establishing trails, trailheads and parking in the core area of the burn scar. The planning process was funded by a 2018 Colorado Parks and Wildlife State Trails Planning Grant, and led by the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Trails and Open Space Coalition, City of Colorado Springs and the U.S. Forest Service.
Wednesday’s open house, the last in this stage of the long road to re-building Waldo Canyon, gave attendees the opportunity to examine proposed uses, rough trail alignments and trailheads, and express their opinions or suggestions. Representatives from the four stakeholder groups and the roundtable were on-hand to answer any questions.
Since the area falls under the jurisdiction of U.S. Forest Service, the next steps towards re-establishing recreation in the burn area falls to them and a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) study. The Waldo Canyon Planning process will fulfill the public input requirement of a NEPA study, and is a more robust and thorough public input process than is typical. Once a final plan for the area is approved, then the fundraising and actual work will commence, all of which is still a few years away. For more information, go to the Waldo Canyon Planning website.
In other news, the El Paso County Parks Department is looking for volunteers to be associate members of the county’s Parks Advisory Board. Interested parties have until March 2 to apply.
On Thursday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced the latest round of Colorado the Beautiful trail-construction Grants. Included in the latest grant awards was a nearly $281,000 grant to the National Forest Foundation for “Phase II” of the rebuilding the Devil’s Playground trail on the west face of Pikes Peak. Phase II of the project on the popular alternate hiking route to the summit of Pikes Peak is a continuation of the project that started in 2019. According to Executive Director Jennifer Peterson, the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, along with the Mile High Youth Corps, will continue as the primary workforce on the project.
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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 almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: firstname.lastname@example.org.