Update on the TOPS Initiative
Colorado Springs City Council is scheduled to discuss the TOPS initiative at their July 12th Work Session.
At this time it appears the majority of City Council supports a 20 year extension for TOPS and an increase from 0.1% to 0.2%. Trust for Public Land has determined that 0.20% would cost the average household $29 per year.
Increasing the TOPS program from $10 million to $20 million per year would mean more dollars to improve trails, build parks, preserve open space and take care of what we have. We want to hear from you! Let us know if you support an increase to TOPS and let us know why. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and thanks.
PARK AND TRAIL News
Participate in Park & Recreation Month by taking part in community-wide survey
July is national Park & Recreation Month and the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is kicking it off by asking community members to participate in a community-wide survey. Through the online survey, the department is seeking to learn more about its users, which properties and services they use most, how properties and services can be expanded and/or improved and if there are barriers or perceived barriers to access.
Here is the link to participate: https://arcg.is/zmDTq0
The survey is open from July 6-30 and should take 3-5 minutes to complete. All participants can select to be entered into a giveaway for the chance to win one of eight family four-packs to visit the new Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center by driving the Pikes Peak Highway. Winners will be announced every Monday and Friday in July.
My Favorite TOPS Property – Susan Davies
I admit to having many, but the eastern portion of Ute Valley Park is very special to me. I recall Hewlett Packard putting the 200 acres up for sale shortly after the recession. Public funding for new projects was a difficult sell and community leaders were initially reluctant to buy more open space. A group of neighbors refused to watch those acres become houses and formed the Friends of Ute Valley Park (with TOSC’s help). They started raising money specifically for future maintenance. Hugely successful, coupled with TOPS and GOCO dollars and support from the Trust for Public Land; the property was purchased by the city in 2013 and will forever remain a lovely jewel in our recreation and conservation portfolio. Rugged serpentine trails through hoodoos and across wooden bridges make it a wonderful area to explore, minutes from I-25. I’m reminded once again just how powerful a small group of determined folks can be! The Friends of Ute Valley Park continue to tackle important projects throughout the park and remain one of our most successful Friends Group. We thank you!
Property to Preserve?
From time to time individuals and groups reach out to TOSC to learn how they can preserve open space in their neighborhood. We take pleasure helping them navigate the process. For the land to be considered as a TOPS candidate it must meet certain criteria:
- The owner of the land must be a “willing seller.” TOPS does not pursue a purchase from an unwilling seller.
- The property must have conservation values that make it a good addition to the TOPS program. That includes size, location, proximity to existing parks/open spaces, geological formations, flora and fauna, wetlands/creeks, wildlife activity etc.
- The TOPS program requires the property to be appraised to determine its value.
- The property was included in the 2014 Parks Master Plan as a Candidate Open Space.
If there is land you wish to be considered, you can fill out a TOPS application form and submit it to TOPS staff. The form is fairly simple. Staff will take a look and share it with the TOPS Working Committee for their consideration if it meets the criteria. And remember, TOSC is ready to help!
Long Time TOSC Member, Judi Tobias, Represents Equestrian Trail Use
Many of our local trails are multi-use trails, meaning any non-motorized use of the trail is permitted. This includes horses. As an organization that advocates for all trail users, TOSC has a long history of working with the equestrians in our area. In fact one of our long-time members has been representing equestrian trail use in our coalition since the 1970s!
When the Trails Coalition was formed in the late 1970s, an equestrian group, the El Paso County Horsemen’s Council, was one of its founding members. Three EPCHC members, Judi Tobias, Gerri Harrand, and Sheila Zinn, represented the equestrians. Judi and her husband, Larry, were very active in TOSC over the years, as they adopted two trails near their home in the northeast part of Colorado Springs as well as helping with events such as the Gala in the Garden and the Starlight Spectacular. In addition, Judi served on the TOSC Board and worked part-time as the group’s office manager for several years. When the couple moved to Latigo, north of Falcon in 2003, Judi became active in supporting the El Paso County trails, as a member of the Black Forest Trails Coalition and as a member of the County Park Board for six years. She was instrumental in procuring $5000 in donated seed money to fund the restroom in Black Forest Section 16 and was a member of the committee which formulated the master plan for the popular Pineries Park in Black Forest.
TOSC members like Judi enjoy the benefit of having their voices represented as part of our larger coalition. Let your passion for preserving our open spaces, connecting our trails and funding our parks be heard by joining the coalition.
2021 Two Shoes Trek Challenge
Registration is now open for the 2021 Two Shoes Trek Challenge! TOSC and the Pikes Peak Road Runners have teamed up to stage a community running event. The live race will take place on September 11th, 2021 at Fox Run Regional Park and feature 5k, 10k and 30k distances. The virtual race option will take place from September 4th to September 11th and showcase amazing open spaces. Click here for more information and to register.
Lots of Opportunities to Give Back
July is one of the biggest months for volunteer workdays and this week features a few fantastic projects you can be a part of. Tonight, July 7th, the Friends of Ute Valley Park are hosting a volunteer trail reclamation project (register here) and the Friends of Stratton Open Space are having their weekly evening trail workday (register here). On Saturday, July 10th, the Guardians of Palmer Park will be doing trail maintenance on the Greencrest Trail, dog waste pickup on Yucca Flats and general trash pickup around the park (register here). For those who want to volunteer in a park this week; but trail maintenance is too intense for you, consider helping care for the flower gardens around the Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center every Thursday morning with the Friends of Cheyenne Canon (register here). This Thursday, July 8th at 5:30pm, TOSC will be holding a volunteer training for Open Space Trail Ambassadors program for those who want to educate the public about Leave No Trace and share stories about their favorite open spaces (register here).
Looking for More Options?
With the increase in park and trail users, there are more local volunteer opportunities than ever before.
If you are looking for the occasional opportunity, check out TOSC’s Community Volunteer Calendar – the region’s most comprehensive resource for local outdoor volunteer opportunities!
If you are looking for a long-term volunteer project, consider becoming a TOSC Trail Ambassador! Trail Ambassadors perform regular patrols of popular open spaces and provide general trail information, answer questions, listen to users’ concerns, and connect people with resources in our community. TOSC provides a training for all Trail Ambassadors so they are confident in promoting trail stewardship and proper trail etiquette. For more information CLICK HERE.
TOSC can also help your business or group coordinate a trail or park clean-up. For information contact Aaron at email@example.com.
Concerts in the Park Are Back!
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.