Notes from the Field

The Dirt Diaries Blog

Musings from RMFI staff about all things related to public lands and environmental stewardship.

Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department to pilot new electric bike policy on City trails starting May 31

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Electric bike (e-bike) access on City trails will be expanded during a year-long pilot program starting May 31. The program will allow Class 1 e-bikes, pedal-assist bicycles that can only be activated through a pedaling action, on all City trails that currently allow bicycles, rather than just urban trails. The pilot program will also allow, for the first time, Class 2 e-bikes on urban trails only. Class 2 e-bikes can be activated by pedaling or through a throttle element limited to low speeds.

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Guidelines and Procedures for RMFI Field Crews in Response to COVID-19

RMFI is authorized to complete trail and restoration work by the following public land management agencies in 2020: Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services; Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Field Office; El Paso County Parks; U.S. Forest Service Pikes Peak Ranger District and Saguache Ranger District. In delivering these essential services, RMFI will keep the health and safety of our employees and community as the first priority. This document was most recently updated on March 11, 2021.
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CPW aquatic biologists studying troubling decline in greenback cutthroat population

Dec. 22, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Aquatic biologists and researchers at Colorado Parks and Wildlife have launched an intensive review of data on Bear Creek after a routine survey revealed a troubling decline in greenback cutthroat trout populations.

In 2012, CPW confirmed that tiny Bear Creek, on the city’s southwest edge, was home to wild greenback cutthroat trout, which are the Colorado state fish and are native to the South Platte River in the northeast.

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In 40th year, Colorado Springs nonprofit continues legacy of outdoor guardianship

By Seth Boster:

On a sunny, summer day in 2018, Hartley Hesse and her sister, Laurel, hiked high on Cheyenne Mountain to build a bench at a scenic overlook.

It was to commemorate their late father, the man responsible for designing long-anticipated trails around this iconic summit in Colorado Springs — and responsible for the local group leading construction, Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

Mark Hesse, the renowned mountaineer and Springs native, died in 2014 at the age of 63.

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Pike and San Isabel National Forests Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands Completes Crags Land Exchange

PUEBLO, Colo., Feb 5, 2021 – The Pike and San Isabel National Forests Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands and the Broadmoor Hotel completed a land exchange in El Paso and Teller Counties February 5, 2021 under the authorization provided in the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019 (Section 1001; Public Law 116-9; March 12, 2019).

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Red Rock Canyon Open Space to implement after-hour gate closures starting Feb. 5, 2021

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department will begin implementing nightly after-hour gate closures in Red Rock Canyon Open Space on Friday, Feb. 5. The gates, located at the park’s main entrance off Highway 24, will restrict access while the park is closed, 9 p.m.-5 a.m. (Nov. 1-April 30) and 10 p.m.-5 a.m. (May 1-Oct. 31).

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Section of North Cheyenne Canyon Road closed weekdays beginning Feb. 8 for bridge maintenance

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A section of North Cheyenne Canyon Road, from the main entrance of North Cheyenne Cañon Park to the parking lot at Helen Hunt Falls, will be closed weekdays (Monday-Friday) beginning Feb. 8 to facilitate the construction of a temporary bypass road ahead of a larger bridge replacement project in the park. North Cheyenne Cañon Park will remain open during the road closure, which is expected to last through the end of March. The road will be fully open on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Coloradans’ increased use of public lands during coronavirus is taking its toll

Seth Boster, The Gazette

COLORADO SPRINGS — Scott Fitzwilliams was supposed to be off work. But as supervisor of America’s most trafficked national forest,“ you’re never off work,” he says.

So there he was Fourth of July weekend, supposed to be enjoying the serenity he had always known at a lake within White River National Forest. “Popular,” Fitzwilliams had always known it, “but usually kind of a local place.”

Not in 2020.

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Best Ways to Preserve Nature While Cycling

This article was written by Cendy Moliere from Personal Injury Help.

Cycling is a fun, healthy, and exciting way to get where you need to go. It also gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature and enjoy the great outdoors. When we go cycling, we all have a responsibility to do what we can to preserve nature for its inhabitants as well as for any future visitors to the area. Here are some of the best ways to preserve nature while cycling:

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Give! like you’ve never given before!

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO -- Since its inception in 2009, the Give! Campaign has raised more than $13 million for 223 local nonprofits, including a record $1.6 million in 2019. More than ever, this year’s campaign, which launched on November 1, will provide much-needed support to 78 local nonprofits in Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities. 

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An Earth Corps student's reflection

"I am writing this at 11,000 feet. I have not showered in 17 days, and I am about as happy as I've ever been in my life. If someone had told me 3 weeks ago all of the things that I would experience, I probably would have been too scared to do it... The human connections, knowledge, and experiences that I encountered on this program have permanently changed not just my views on the environment, but the way that I see and related to people who are different from me or have different perspectives from my own."
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Life At 11,000 Feet

BLOG POST BY: Elena Costa-Smith, Earth Corps 2020 Graduate

I am writing this at 11,000 feet. I have not showered in 17 days, and I am about as happy as I've ever been in my life. If someone had told me 3 weeks ago all of the things that I would experience, I probably would have been too scared to do it. But, standing on the other side of all of these hurdles, I have never felt more capable or connected to the outdoors. 

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Black Lives Matter

Rocky Mountain Field Institute stands with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and condemns the systemic racism and violence that have been part of their experience for the last 400 years.  We are aware of the historic disparities in accessibility and use of public spaces and natural areas. We support a community where our open spaces are a welcoming, safe, communal space for all, and the stewardship of those spaces is a collective endeavor.
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How to Stay Environmentally Active in the Face of Social Distancing and Safer-at-Home Orders

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. 

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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.

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Manitou Incline could reopen with free, interim reservation system

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.

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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. 

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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.

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Thanks, RMFI: A Parting Word from Your Long-Term Intern

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.

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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.

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RMFI Response, March 13: COVID-19

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. 

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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.

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RMFI Cowbell

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!

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