Garden of the Gods Restoration Project

Since 2002, RMFI has been restoring social trails, reconstructing designated trails, and mitigating soil erosion in this sensitive, but highly visited park.
Volunteers from FedEx take a day out of the office to work on trail maintenance.

BACKGROUND

The Garden of the Gods Park is a Natural Historic Landmark located within the City of Colorado Springs and managed by the City's Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services. One of the most popular destinations in the Western United States, with an estimated 4-6 million local, national, and international visitors each year, the Garden of the Gods stretches the traditional definition of a city park. Given the park's relatively small size (1,300 acres), the visitation density far surpasses any similar site in the region.

Decades of high use have taken a heavy toll on the park, leaving the natural integrity of the Garden of the Gods at serious risk. Major threats include soil erosion, loss of native plant communities, invasive plants, wildlife disturbances, and the poor condition of the park's trail system. In 2000, RMFI completed the Garden of the Gods Restoration Report that evaluated the ecological health of the park, presented a list of recommendations to address the major threats to the park, and determined the cost for implementing the report's recommendations.

One major outcome of this report was development of RMFI's Garden of the Gods Community Restoration Program in close partnership with the City of Colorado Springs and the Friends of Garden of the Gods. This program actively engages an average of 1,200 community volunteers every year in hands-on stewardship projects that help protect the park's tremendous natural resources. 

WORK OBJECTIVES

Work objectives include:

  • Repairing the park's trail system.
  • Closing and restoring visitor-created social trails.
  • Assisting with the control and eradication of non-native, noxious plants and restore native plant communities.
  • Completing erosion control and stabilization projects.
  • Developing and implementing a visitor education program based upon the stewardship and restoration of the park.
  • Engaging the community in the hands-on restoration of the park's resources.

2018 WORK FOCUS

  • Complete trail maintenance on designated trails.
  • Close and restore redundant social trails. 
  • Complete trail assessment to establish trail and restoration priorities for the next 5 years.

PROJECT PARTNERS AND FUNDERS

  • Broadmoor Garden Club
  • Catamount Institute
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • Friends of Garden of the Gods
  • Garden of the Gods Foundation
  • Garden of the Gods Trading Post
  • Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center
  • Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax, City of Colorado Springs
  • Lyda Hill
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation