Notes from the Field
The Dirt Diaries Blog
Musings from RMFI staff about all things related to public lands and environmental stewardship.
Let’s face it. We are living through extraordinary times full of doubt and uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic has turned our lives upside down, and we are all trying to navigate our “new normal.”
One of the many challenges Coloradans are struggling with is the sense of anxiety that comes with not being able to control what is happening in our lives. Amongst all of the daily uncertainty (How long will this last? Is it safe to go to the grocery store? How am I going to pay my rent?) one thing remains as constant and true as ever. We need to get outside.
Master plans for Austin Bluffs Open Space and Downtown Historic Parks approved Thursday by Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board approved two new master plans at its monthly meeting Thursday, June 11: the Austin Bluffs Open Space Master and Management Plan and the Downtown Historic Parks Master Plan for Acacia, Alamo Square and Antlers parks. The respective plans will guide future management of and improvements to these areas. Public input, collected over the last two years, was heavily incorporated in both plans.
COLORADO SPRINGS/MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. – The City of Colorado Springs and the City of Manitou Springs are collaborating on a plan to reopen the Manitou Incline aligned with recommended public health modifications, including measures to better ensure physical distancing. The City of Colorado Springs consulted with the other co-owners of the Incline, the USDA Forest Service and Colorado Springs Utilities, on the proposed interim management plan.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Colorado Springs City Council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 9 voted unanimously to approve the acquisition of more than 340 acres of open space properties near the Cedar Heights and Oak Valley Ranch neighborhoods.
MAY 15, 2020: COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service in cooperation with Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, the Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway, and GE Johnson has approved an alternate route from the end of Barr Trail to the summit during a temporary closure of the usual access to the summit house.
Open space acquisitions recommended by Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board Wednesday
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board at its monthly meeting Thursday, May 14 recommended by unanimous vote a proposal for the City of Colorado Springs to acquire more than 340 acres of open space near the Cedar Heights and Oak Valley Ranch neighborhoods. The acquisitions will now be considered by City Council for approval in June.
CPW announces the state’s acquisition of the Fishers Peak property in celebration of Colorado Public Lands Day
May 14, 2020
TRINIDAD, Colo. – More than a year after entering a partnership to acquire a 19,200-acre ranch that includes the towering landmark known as Fishers Peak, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has completed the purchase, clearing the way for creation of the state’s 42nd state park.
The acquisition is especially significant as Coloradans prepare to celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day on Saturday, May 16.
On my morning run in Palmer Park today, I stumbled upon a RMFI truck. I had gotten up early to try to beat the rush and avoid having to squeeze past too many people on the narrow singletrack trails. Even when the aim is to keep people safe, it’s odd to have to be wary of other trail users, and to feel the weight of their unease with me. When I saw the RMFI logo, I felt an immediate sense of relief. I stopped approximately six feet away to greet a field staff member who was pulling tools out of the back of the truck.
Since our last update on March 13, RMFI has continued to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health concerns. As such, we have made shifts to our organization and operational plans.
Beginning Monday, March 16, employees were encouraged to work from home and we have continued that practice this week. Those who need to come to the office for any reason are required to practice safe social distancing and regular hand-washing and hygiene.
As public health concerns related to COVID-19 (coronavirus) heighten across Colorado and the rest of the world, we are continuing to actively monitor the situation, stay in close communication with our partners, and create contingency plans as they relate to our operations and upcoming programs and volunteer stewardship projects.
According to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, approximately 334,000 people hike to the top of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks each year. This is the story of how one initiative is using letter grades to help protect and conserve the summit routes.Like many Coloradans, Ben Hanus was on a mission to bag some fourteeners. Unlike many Coloradans, his incentive to summit the 14,000-foot peaks wasn’t personal; it was about preservation.
A few quick programmatic updates here at RMFI...
First, we are thrilled to announce that Patagonia is supporting RMFI's work in the Bear Creek Watershed next year, to the tune of $25,000! Receiving this kind of support from one of the foremost leaders in the environmental movement is a huge vote of confidence for the work RMFI and others have been doing to protect the last wild, viable population of the greenback cutthroat trout. Thank you, Patagonia!
Two new RMFI projects are helping to usher in autumn. Keep reading to learn more about what is in store for this month.
RMFI started trail improvement work at Mueller State Park in late September. This gem of a park is situated on the west side of Pikes Peak and is known for its rolling trails, abundant wildlife, and aspen groves. The RMFI Stewardship Crew is improving the Rock Canyon Trail (aka Trail #15) by constructing timber riser steps. We are spending 12 days on the project this month and there is an opportunity to volunteer on Saturday, October 5th.
"Earth Corps was hands-down one of the best experiences of my life."
"Thank you to RMFI and my new friends for making Earth Corps wonderful and life changing."
"I feel so lucky to have been introduced to such amazing leaders and lecturers in this field."
"I will make sure to use this experience to promote the conversation of conservation."
"Earth Corps was a great experience and I see a difference in my daily routine. I'm so excited to pay it forward in my education."
Shelf Road Recreation Area, located approximately 11 miles north of Cañon City, Colorado, and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is best known for its world-class sport climbing. People travel from all over the world to test their crimping skills on Shelf's stellar limestone crags. In addition to climbing, the area offers hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding. RMFI began working with the BLM in 1991 to address recreation impacts in the area.
Summer rolls on at RMFI! Although snow continues to linger in the highest reaches of our worksite on the Kit Carson-Challenger Ridge Trail Realignment project, July finally provided the conditions needed to get to work up there in the Sangres. RMFI staff in partnership with a crew from Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) kicked off our work in the Sangres on July 2 and have since logged a whopping 18 workdays over the course of two 9-day backcountry hitches on the project.
REPRINTED FROM THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY. FOR ORIGINAL ARTICLE, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
June 14, 2019
DENVER – Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded more than $1,3 million in funding to 17 projects across the state.
COLORADO SPRINGS – The state of growth in Colorado is impacting one of the main reasons so many people want to come here and stay. “We are known as Ultra-users,” said Colorado Springs Parks, Director, Karen Palus. Heavy use is putting pressure on the sustainability of public lands, trails and open space.
“If we don’t step in and step in, in a more formal way, it will get out of control,” said Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Executive Director Jennifer Peterson.
In recent weeks, there has been increasing interest in the Sesame Canyon Trail (herein referred to as the Sesame Canyon Social Trail since it has never been an authorized designated trail) as well as questions regarding plans to formally close, decommission, and actively restore the trail as part of ongoing efforts to protect the habitat of the threatened greenback cutthroat trout, which resides in neighboring Bear Creek. We wanted to be proactive in making sure the public has the correct information regarding the project.
REPRINTED FROM KRCC 91.5
Colorado Springs (March 31, 2019):
It's the boom times in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., which is wrapping up a winter of record snowfall. Eager to take advantage of it, Donovan Sliman and his two young daughters are lumbering up a snowy trail on the outskirts of town, where the condos give way to National Forest.
"I like to get away from everybody else," says Donovan. "I like to hear the sound of the wind and the snow through the trees." "We're also going to go sledding," adds Grace, one of his daughters.
REPRINTED FROM THE GAZETTE:
Colorado Springs (March 31, 2019): Work on trail connectivity, a key component of the North Cheyenne Cañon Park Master Plan, is underway. A trail building/maintenance crew from the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) has begun working on one of the park’s critical links, the new Powell Connector Trail.
The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund isn't necessarily about acquiring more public lands. It's also about supporting local programs that get people onto them, particularly the next generation, members of the Colorado Canyons Association told U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on Tuesday.
The group's staff and board met with Colorado's junior senator in Grand Junction to tell him his support is needed to get lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF, which Congress allowed to lapse last year.
The Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) endeavors to map every trail in the state of Colorado in support of the Colorado the Beautiful Initiative. COTREX connects people, trails, and technology by coordinating the efforts of federal, state, county, and local agencies to create a comprehensive and authoritative repository of recreational trails for public use.