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Medicine Wheel Guy
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Greetings Everyone,

Last week, I had the opportunity to review the first draft of the proposed plan for opening the south slope of Pikes Peak to the public. This is an exciting development that has been years in the making. Colorado Springs Utilities deserves lots of credit for finally moving forward with this project.

In a nutshell, the plan calls for two trail areas on the south slope. One would connect from Jones Park over to roughly the Barr Trail area (at the Mount View Trail). This trail is slated to be open to all non-motorized uses, including mountain bikes.

The second, southern trail area is accessed from Gold Camp Road and would include access to several of the lakes on the south slope, as well as a nice loop trail. Unfortunately, this area would be closed to mountain bikers.

In my opinion, there are three problems with the plan that specifically affect mountain bikers:

1 - The closure of the southern area to mountain bikes. Since it is open to hikers and equestrians, there is no reason that bicycles shouldn't be allowed as well.

2 - The two trail areas should be connected in some way. Right now, there's no plan to go from one area to the other, which seems like a huge oversight.

3 - Because of items 1 and 2 above, this plan throws a big wrench into the Ring The Peak trail. If issues 1 and 2 are fixed, then the RTP trail comes that much closer to reality.

PLEASE ATTEND THE MEETING THIS TUESDAY and give the planners your feedback about these issues. The meeting will be held at 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Leon Young Service Center, 1521 Hancock Expressway, Colorado Springs.

More information is available on the CSU web site here:

http://www.csu.org/business/environment/recreation/watershed/item2989.html

If you do attend, please be sure to thank the CSU folks for their efforts in getting this project going.

Happy trails!
 

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Biker Beau
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Martlet has it right!

Please come out to be a part of the process. CSU is actively seeking input from all recreational users of the watershed area, now is the time to let your mtn biking voice be heard.

Below is the info from Gwen Happ, CSU Issues Manager:

Colorado Springs Utilities is developing a comprehensive plan to define appropriate recreational opportunities on local city owned watershed lands. This plan will help to identify any environmental constraints, and subsequently the appropriate recreational opportunities for municipal watershed lands. This plan is intended to create an overall vision for the future of recreation on Colorado Springs Utilities watershed system lands. Furthermore, this plan will refine strategies, standards, projects, and ways to implement and monitor this vision.

How Can You Help?
Throughout this planning process CSU has been soliciting input from interested stakeholders and the general public to help shape the future of recreation on Colorado Springs Watershed Lands. After several months of valuable input, a proposed conceptual plan for recreation on watershed lands has been developed.

We would like your feedback. Please plan to attend to attend the entire open house on January 26, 2010 where you can review the proposed conceptual plan, ask questions of CSU staff and the planning team, and provide your input and feedback.


Your Input is Needed!

The last meeting in Summer had a good turnout, wouldn't it be great to have twice as many folks representing our local mtn biking community for this meeting?

Cheers!
 

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Your retarded
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Bumpity bump. I'm very much considering attending.
 

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South Slope Draft Plan Online

I've linked to a copy of the draft plan from my blog post on the Pikes Peak South Slope. The reasons it gives for restricting mountain bikes is "to allow for a wilderness like experience and to reduce the risk of fast moving recreation impacting bighorn sheep." Not sure how valid the bighorn sheep concern is. I plan to be there to find out more and give my 2 cents.
 

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Woohooo!
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ultrarob said:
"reduce the risk of fast moving recreation impacting bighorn sheep."
That sounds a lot like the I-70 corridor between Idaho Springs and Loveland--lots of fast moving recreationalists (in cars), but very little impact to the sheep (that I've ever heard of).
 

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Word to the wise - I'd ask a lot of questions about the technical justification for the bighorn sheep concern (i.e., scientific studies, specific experience of experts).

IMO - If there's real justification, then its something to be respected - and maybe there are alternative alignments to alleviate the concern. If it's just perception, or just plain made up as an excuse, then challenge it.
 

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Almost Human
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ultrarob said:
I've linked to a copy of the draft plan from my blog post on the Pikes Peak South Slope. The reasons it gives for restricting mountain bikes is "to allow for a wilderness like experience and to reduce the risk of fast moving recreation impacting bighorn sheep." Not sure how valid the bighorn sheep concern is. I plan to be there to find out more and give my 2 cents.

Probably has something to do with the fact that the Broadmoor owns the PP Cog Railway and they don't want tourists on the Cogg RR to see people hiking/biking on Pikes Peak. i.e "wilderness experience for lazy people" The Broadmoor can't make money if people hike or bike to the top of PP. The road is closed to bikes, even though it's paved now. And other than Barr Trail, the only other way to get to the top is by PP Cog.

I don't know about you guys but I can't count the times I've had sheep sitting in the middle of the road that wouldn't move out of the way. And common sense tells us that the Impacts from bikes is less than dogs/pets any day of the week. It's just easy to point fingers at bikes.

I hope someone asks why trails the PP Multi-use Plan included trails in 1999, but the new "plan" does not include those same trails. Why is access actually being restricted from what we have traditionally had in the centuries preceding today? What's changed?
 

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I found IMBA's page on MTB impacts, specifically the section on wildlife, to be of particular interest. Here's the link:

http://www.imba.com/resources/science/impact_summary.html


There actually a study on the impact of recreation on desert big horn sheep - granted, this species might behave differently, but here's what they found:

Abstract
Human recreation has been implicated in the decline of several populations of desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni). Managers are concerned about the impact of increased recreation on desert bighorn sheep in Canyonlands National Park (NP), Utah, USA, where visitation increased 325% from 1979 to 1994. We compared behavioral responses of sheep to recreational activity between a low visitor use area and a high visitor use area during 1993 and 1994 by observing behavioral responses, distances moved, and duration of responses to vehicles, mountain bikers, and humans on foot. Hikers caused the most severe responses in desert bighorn sheep (animals fled in 61% of encounters), followed by vehicles (17% fled) and mountain bikers (6% fled), apparently because hikers were more likely to be in unpredictable locations and often directly approached sheep. We observed considerable individual heterogeneity in responses of bighorn sheep to the greater human use: some animals lived close to the road corridor and were apparently habituated to the human activities, but other animals avoided the road corridor. In the high-use area, we observed 3 radiocollared sheep that lived closer to the road than expected and found evidence of fewer responses to vehicles by females in spring, less response time of all sheep to vehicles in spring, and fewer responses to mountain bikers compared to the low-use area. Overall, there was an avoidance of the road corridor by most other bighorn sheep in the high-use area where all animals, on average, were found 39% farther from roads (490 ± 19 m vs. 354 ± 36 m) than in the low-use area. This avoidance of the road corridor by some animals represented 15% less use of potential suitable habitat in the high-use area over the low-use area. Increased sensitivity to hikers in the high-use area was suggested by a greater responsiveness by males in autumn and greater distance fled by females in spring. Responses of bighorn sheep were greater when human activity approached at the same elevation, when sheep were moving or standing, when female interactions occurred in spring and summer and male interactions occurred in autumn, and when sheep were farther from escape terrain. We recommend managers confine hikers to designated trails during spring lambing and the autumn rut in desert bighorn sheep habitat.

and a couple of other quotes from the paper:

"Contrary to our original expectations and the concerns of park managers, the increase in numbers of mountain bikers visiting the park does not appear to be a serious threat to desert bighorn sheep, probably because mountain bikers are restricted to predictable situations such as the currently designated road corridors."

"However, these results should not be extrapolated to other public lands where mountain bikers are not confined to designated trails and may surprise sheep in novel situations."

So it sounds like it's not a question of whether or not to allow bikes, but whether or not to allow anyone...

The plan lists various resources in Table 2 (p. 3) and bicycles are the only recreational use singled out for restricting access, mentioned 3 times with regard to bighorn core winter habitat (when we wouldn't be biking anyway due to snow), overall bighorn lambing areas, and areas of outstanding biodiversity. There isn't any reason given for singling out bicyles for no access - seems like someone involved in the process is anti-bike.
 

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Sorry, I forgot the reference:

Papouchis, Christopher M. and Singer, Francis J. and Sloan, William. 2001. Responses of Desert Bighorn Sheep To Increased Human Recreation. Journal of Wildlife Management 65(3):573 - 582.


On Uncle Trails comments, he's right, the use is now much restricted over what was proposed in the old Pikes Peak Multi-Use Plan that they completed and shelved. So I also question why the big changes.
 

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Oh yeah, one other thing.

The area where these new trails are defined in the South Slope watershed is in the "Least Constrained Public Use" areas accoriding to the map on p.5. And the two trails are in very similar areas as far as the composite constraints.

So why is one ok for bikes and the other not?

Anyway, we should be pushing for more trails than this anyway, with completion of Ring the Peak a priority as well as spokes from the summit down to Ring the Peak (of which the other new trail they show, passing through Mt. View Station, is one). This trail isn't shown on the plan maps, but is discussed as the "Lake Moraine Trail" in the text (p.18).
 

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Props to the mtn bikers attending the meeting:thumbsup: They took a show of hands on who the users groups at the meeting were. When it came time for the mtn bikers it seemed like half the room raised their hands.
Thanks to the biker for shooting a whole in their sheep theory!

Chris
 

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Your retarded
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Chris9702l said:
Thanks to the biker for shooting a whole in their sheep theory!
And doing so calmly and articulately, even when confronted by that equestrian who did not like the thought of a study indicating bikes have little to no impact on sheep populations.

I have to admit, I had trouble holding back my smile when I saw the number of mountain bikers there. We were about equal to the equestrians in attendance, which is saying a lot. I was very proud to attend last night as a cyclist.

I'm still astonished that CSU and EDAW are so reluctant to grant a trail to complete the RTP system. It kinda sounds like CSU is waiting on the USFS to approve a trail and the USFS is waiting on CSU to approve a trail. Just a classic catch 22 brought on by lack of communication between the two entities.
 

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Yeah, I was thrilled to see so many bikers there as well. Thanks guys!

While I understand the issues with finding a final alignment for the RTP Trail, they should have at least showed a conceptual alignment so that the public perceives that CSU is making a committment to making it happen, even if it takes awhile. There's just too much distrust from the public - they need to think from a PR standpoint and try to win back some trust. We'll push to see that they do include words and a conceptual alignment.

And while I do understand that bikes can frighten animals, it's the same with hikers, runners, horses, dogs, etc. If there's an animal on the trail, all users will frighten it off the trail (and bikes might be seen as more threatening in that circumstance because they are quiet and fast and heading toward them - seem like a predator). But if there are animals off the trail, I can also see how bikes are less threatening for the very same reasons - they pass by quickly and don't pay any attention to the wildlife, whereas slower users will be staring at the animal the whole time they are passing - now those users look more like predators. I wasn't really able to get that across well last night, but I'll reiterate that to CSU & EDAW

I'll keep talking to them on that front as well (DOW too) - see if we can't squash the whole bikes are bad for animals talk now and move forward.

Another plus was the fact that there really weren't any anti-bike sentiments expressed vocally at the meeting. May get some on the comment sheets and before the comment period closes, but at least there seemed to be unity on that front last night.
 

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Biker Beau
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Absolutely stellar turnout last night @the CSU Watershed meeting!

My helmet is off to all the mtn bikers that took time out of their evening to come out and show support for increased access in the South Slope Recreation Area plan.

I ended up sitting up front so I didn't get the warm fuzzy that I heard many of you had when they asked for a show of hands from the mtn bikers present...and apparently over 1/2 the rooms hands went up.

Way to represent!

The comment period is open until the ~end of Feb I believe I heard (need to have the list that on the website).

If you did not have a chance to fill out a comment form that was available, there is a copy of it on the CSU website. Last night was only a single chance to have your voice heard. Please take the time, fill out the form and submit it via email or fax.

CSU web link to the Watershed Access Project page (has "your comments" info on the right):
http://www.csu.org/business/environment/recreation/watershed/item2989.html

Here is direct link to the comment form:
http://www.csu.org/residential/environment/recreation/watershed/item3969.pdf
 

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Biker Beau
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jyount said:
Comment period closes Feb. 26.
The note I *forgot* to take...thanks Jim!

Now, get those forms in you all. And, send the link to your mtn biking friends that might not have had a chance to make it last night. Share if on Facebook, spread it around like a well-used dollar bill :thumbsup:

I was encouraged that CSU seems to be listening and taking into account the opinions/ideas/suggestions of the various user groups.

However, if you feel as I do that limited biking access to the recreational area, and only one trail is not sufficient...let your voice be heard.
 

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If they are worried about the sheep on the South Slope they need to go up to Waterton Canyon and watch the sheep walk up to the cyclists not run away from them.

Perhaps they could learn something by studying that population/lack of negative impact.
 
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