News Wednesday June 16, 2021

Cottonwood Creek TOPS Funded Connection
Back in July of 2020, TOSC staff supported the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services as they held the ribbon cutting for the final section of the Cottonwood Creek Trail at Frank Castello Park. The $2.2 million in improvements, totaling 1.23 miles of additional new trail surface were funded by the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) sales tax.
This section that heads east from the park and under Powers Boulevard, providing the connection between the existing Cottonwood Creek Trail to the natural surface trail leading into the Wolf Ranch development easily makes this the favorite TOPS-funded trail project for TOSC staff member Allen Beauchamp. Recently, this trail and corridor was the highlight for the first-ever Urban Water Cycle Tour and when the group was gathered at the easternmost point of the trail, it was pointed out that you could ride from there 19.7 well-connected miles to the Manitou Springs Visitor Center using the now completed corridor created by the connection of the Cottonwood Creek, Pikes Peak Greenway, and Midland Trails. Let’s hear it for urban trail connectivity!


South Slope Recreation Area
If you haven’t been to the South Slope of Pikes Peak… it is a great area to explore! It offers excellent trails for hiking and biking and great fishing for anglers. Although a 75 minute drive from COS, the beauty and solitude make it worth the trip.
The South Slope is managed by Colorado Springs Utilities. Water stored in the lakes and reservoirs is consumed by COS residents and is of the highest quality.
For 100 years the area was closed to the public.
Now, it opens only during the summer: Thurs – Saturday, 7:30 – 3:00 pm
Reservations and a $20 parking fee is required.
To learn more and reserve a spot:
Rabbit Populations
If you have been on a trail anywhere in El Paso County recently, there is a great chance you’ve seen a few rabbits. There has been explosive growth in the population of cottontail and jackrabbits over the
past few years. Every 8-10 years, there is a critical spike in wild rabbit numbers due to fast reproductive rates and the absence of predators. This rapid overpopulation leads to quicker spread of diseases. At the moment in Colorado, we are starting to see the decline regionally in wild rabbit numbers due to Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus type 2 (RHDV-2). Wild rabbits are beneficial to the local ecosystem because they keep vegetation growth in check, their burrows aerate the soil and they are a food source to predators. While we wait to see what happens with the rabbit population, we can turn our attention to waiting for the annual invasion of miller moths.
City Horticulture
After serving as the City Horticulturist for many years, we bid farewell to Donna Sanchez. Donna has been an integral part of the Springs in Bloom program, which allows individuals, families, clubs and businesses to adopt approximately 100 flower beds throughout Colorado Springs. Plant are grown at the City Greenhouse in Monument Valley Park. We wish Donna a happy retirement. Did you know that our city charter requires the City to have a Horticulturist on staff? Kevin Wood is the temporary contact until a suitable replacement is found.
Check out the plot TOSC adopted at Boulder and Nevada.


Sat. June 19, 9:00 – 12:00 pm
We are thrilled to start hosting Member Only Hikes and Rides again. If you are a TOSC Member, we’d like to invite you to join us for a 3-hour (10 miles) Legacy Loop Bike Ride, to experience the beauty and history of Colorado Springs. Explore the Pikes Peak Greenway, Shooks Run Trail and several points of interest along the way. Only 5 spots left, so register NOW if you want to be a part of this fantastic excursion led by Allen Beauchamp!
Registration deadline is Thursday, June 17.
Black Forest Regional Park
Wildflowers, bluebirds and butterflies! These are just a few of the things that can be seen this time of year in Black Forest Regional Park. Eight years ago, it was a much different scene. The Black Forest Fire in 2013 burned more than 14,200 acres, including most of Black Forest Regional Park’s 385 acres. The thick ponderosa forest was reduced to ashes in a matter of hours. Since then, most of the park’s burned dead trees have been removed and new meadows are springing back to life. With nearly
10 miles of trails this park has a lot of area to explore (Park Map). Black Forest Regional Park is one of TOSC’s favorite “Get Out Spread Out” destinations because it is mostly spared from the crush of visitor traffic seen in other parks west of I-25 and the many loop trails allow everyone to find some tranquility.
Get Out Get Healthy
Recently, TOSC joined staff from the Peak Vista International Circle clinic for their first Get Out Get Healthy group activity! The route selected was from the curated list of family-friendly 20, 40, and 60 minute options that Peak Vista medical providers are using as prescriptions for outdoor activity to patients at 4 different clinics. The group started at Mary Kyler Park and enjoyed a 2 mile stroll along the La Foret Trail, which is very mild with many spots to stop and take in the beauty of the area, and ended with a bit of time at the playground at Mary Kyler Park.
While this initiative is primarily patient-focused, staff from the clinics have also been excited to use the resource for their own daily lunchtime walks and weekend group activities. We look forward to creating a regularly occurring series of Walk-with-a-Doc opportunities that will be available through Peak Vista!
Additionally, we will be working with our other project sponsors Children’s Hospital Colorado – Colorado Springs, and GE Johnson to host two group walking activities later in the Summer and early Fall, at John Venezia Park and downtown Colorado Springs. We will bring together the opportunity for a stroll through the park and along our downtown urban art walk regions combined with health-focused information and outdoor activity.


Concerts in the Park ARE BACK!
El Paso County’s free concert series kicks off June 17 with 101st Army Rock and Country Band @ Homestead Ranch Regional Park.
Rock, country, bluegrass, jazz and more – we have it all this summer at the El Paso County Concerts in the Park series. Bring your picnic, lawn chairs or blanket and the family to enjoy the summer nights with some great outdoor entertainment. All concerts are free and are from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Concerts in the Park is presented by El Paso County Community Services Department, Pikes Peak Jazz and Swing Society, and Anonymous Presents Concerts.
Pikes Peak Summit
The new Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center is on track to open on June 24, pending weather and final construction activity. The Cog Railway is back up and running and the summit itself reopened yesterday, June 15, but until the new Summit Center opens, visitors will only be able to access the exterior walkway and the new summit marker. There will be very limited parking for guests while the final site work is completed (hopefully by the end of July), plan to use the free shuttle from Devils Playground. The new building will open in phases, so early visitors can expect to see final construction work taking place and finishing touches being made to the interpretive exhibits and signs when the building opens. Exterior site work is expected to last through September. And YES, there will be doughnuts! The new machine is so large crews had to bring it in early, then finish the building around it.
Sat. June 26, 9:00 – 12:00 pm
Butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and bats. These are all beneficial pollinators whose numbers are dwindling. Between habitat loss, decreasing water quality, drought, fires, and misinformation these critters need our help! The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District is partnering with the Manitou Pollinator Project, Butterfly Pavilion, Manitou School District 14, and others to put on a POLLINATOR PARTY! Event will take place Saturday June 26 from 9am-noon at Mansions Park in Manitou Springs (198 Lovers Lane). Family-friendly, free, outdoor activities include making a seed bomb, chalk art, short pollinator walks, educational booths with local partners and more! Additionally, during Pollinator Week (June 21-28th) enjoy a “Pint for Pollinators” – a special brew from Manitou Brewing Company, a Brewshed Alliance member. $1 from each pint will go back to supporting pollinator efforts such as these. For more information on protecting our pollinators, visit the Watershed District’s Pollinator Page.
Wildflower Photography Class
Sun. June 27, 9:00 am
Thanks to a wet Spring the wildflower season is spectacular this year! Join Bob Falcone at Cheyenne Mountain State Park for a crash course in wildflower photography. “Hiking Bob” is an award-winning photographer and avid hiker. Bob will share his secrets for outstanding photos in all kinds of weather and lighting conditions, using anything from a cell phone to a high-end digital SLR during his presentation at the Visitor Center. Then the group will head outside for a short practical exercise in wildflower photography. Put your newly learned skills to the test by entering Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park’s 2021 Photo Contest!
Reservation required, please call 719-576-2016.
Cost: $10 for Members of Friends of CMSP, $20 for non-members *No refunds 
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