News Wednesday July 21, 2021

Caterpillars, Rattlers and Ticks, Oh My!
Have you ever heard of the tussock moth before? In 2016, the caterpillar (larvae) stage of this moth destroyed a large chunk of the fir tree forest around the Cheyenne Mountain/Cheyenne Canyon areas during a huge infestation. Now in 2021, the caterpillars are back (in smaller numbers) and continuing to munch on our fir trees. These fuzzy tufted caterpillars need to be approached with caution because their long hairs can produce a bad reaction causing a rash if they are touched. Tussock moth larvae thrive in humid mild conditions, much like ticks. Over the past few years, there has been an “up-tick” in the Rocky Mountain wood tick population along the Front Range. This summer, numbers have exploded in our foothills and riparian areas. If there is long grass or tall stands of scrub oak along the trails you recreate in, consider checking yourself and pets for ticks after you recreate and learn about the symptoms of Colorado Tick Fever.
Staying on trails lessens your chances of a tick bite and will also decrease your odds of disturbing a prairie rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are a common resident of many open spaces in the warm months in the Pikes Peak region. Over the last month, TOSC Trail Ambassadors have noted an increase in rattlesnake activity around Pulpit Rock in Austin Bluffs Open Space (snakes have been seen from 8:30am to the early evening hours). On social media, reports of rattlesnakes in Ute Valley Park, Garden of the Gods and
Cheyenne Mountain State Park have been making the rounds.


Southeast COS Youth Advisory Council Creative Placemaking Tour
Recently, TOSC staff coordinated a bike tour for the Youth Advisory Council of the RISE Coalition that focused on creative placemaking and wayfinding opportunities along the Sand Creek Trail corridor along the section that runs through Southeast Colorado Springs. This effort builds on their previous work participating in the Panorama Park master planning process and their direct input on multiple park amenities including the creation of community-driven art elements in the park. Using the Kids on Bikes bike library at Deerfield Hills Community Center, the youth pedaled a total of 9 miles and visited a number of locations that are being considered for possible mural locations along the trail corridor. They followed the COS Bike Month #PedalOurPast loop for Southeast Colorado Springs and the youth were able learn more about the rich history of their region.
We look forward to supporting the continued engagement of the youth in Southeast Colorado Springs as they work this Summer and Fall to perform park, schoolyard, and urban trail evaluations that will help define needs in their local neighborhoods and will be used to help prioritize future enhancement projects for this area of our city.


Trail Volunteers – Save The Date
Sat. Aug 28, 8:00 – 11:00 AM
TOSC is partnering with Friends of Monument Preserve to tackle trail improvements. Plan to meet at the trailhead at the corner of Nursery Rd and Mt Herman Rd in Monument. More details to follow.
Please contact if you are interested in volunteering!
Stratton Open Space BioBlitz
Aug 27 – 29, 8:00 – 2:00 PM
The City of Colorado Springs Regional Parks division is hosting a BioBlitz at Stratton Open Space. A BioBlitz is a 3-day event where scientists, naturalists, and community volunteers work together to get a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity. Participants will recording all the flora, fauna, and fungi they can find via the iNaturalist app. Collected data is analyzed and used for land management planning and trend monitoring. Guided hikes will be offered Aug 28th and 29th.



Members of the Trails and Open Space Coalition are invited to join our staff and board members for one of two outings in August. These are great opportunities to learn more about the parks, trails and open spaces that you help advocate for as a member of our coalition. Details for both events are below. Registration is required. An email with a registration link was sent to all current members on July 20. If you are a member and did not receive the email, please contact
Member Bike Ride: 
Crews Gulch & Fountain Creek Regional Trails
Sun. Aug 1, 8:00 – 11:00 AM
We are excited to offer this first-ever TOSC member bike tour of the Crews Gulch and Fountain Creek Regional Trails. Ross Williams, a planner with El Paso County Parks will join us on the ride to give an overview of the many amenities we’ll experience along the route. This 12 mile ride will be on natural surface regional trails that will take us to Widefield Community Park where we will learn about the ongoing projects taking place in this wonderful neighborhood park space and we’ll see the recently completed mural project at the gateway to Carp Lake. Our trip back down south along the Fountain Creek Regional Trail will take us through the Fountain Creek Regional Park area and we will be touring the recently completed Hanson Trailhead project that provides a new trail alignment and reestablished crossing of Fountain Creek via two bridges that allow connection to the southern portion of the regional trail that has been inaccessible since 2015.
Member Hike: 
 History of the Heller Center property at UCCS
Sat. Aug 7, 9:00 – 12:00 PM
Come with us for a 3-hour hike around the stunning UCCS Heller Center for the Arts & Humanities property. Dr. Minette Church will discuss Dot and Larry Heller and how the Heller Center came to be established at UCCS. Dr. Max Shulman will talk about the cultural and scholarly opportunities this unique property provides for the campus, city, and Pikes Peak region. And Dr. Karin Larkin will provide information on the rich archaeological heritage on our campus, and around the Heller property in particular. Our academic guides will take hikers by a variety of interpretive opportunities including Indigenous people cultural sites, Dot and Larry’s home, Trembley property, Pulpit Rock, and hoodoo rocks near Butler Court along the base of Eagle Rock.
Activate Your Park
Many thanks to the Middle Shooks Run Neighborhood Association for reaching out and booking the TOSC Mobile Music Project (MMP) system for their recent Shooks Run Showcase summer party in North Shooks Run Park. We all had a blast providing the pedal-powered energy for both Banjo Bev and for the headliner band, LDD! The day could not have been more perfect for neighbors and guests alike to come out to the park and learn more about the neighborhood association, local businesses and to enjoy a bit of Summer fun. We appreciated the opportunity to roll the MMP out and persuade attendees to hop on the bikes to generate human powered music, one revolution at time. It’s a great family-friendly activity that people of all ages and abilities can take part in and is especially nice in this beautiful historic park that has no access to electrical power.
TOSC Trail Ambassadors
TOSC’s Open Space Volunteer Program has just finished its first month and is generating great results. After four public trainings, 16 Volunteer Trail Ambassadors (including 2 Bark Ambassadors) have hit the trails. Since the beginning of July, these Ambassadors have spent a combined 56 hours in 6 different parks and have covered 80 miles of trails so far. While on patrols, they have talked to at least 150 people giving them advice on the best trails to take, safety tips and praise for caring for our natural resources. One Ambassador removed a few pounds of dog waste from Blodgett Open Space while another wanted to let everyone know that Red Rock Canyon Open Space has been quiet during weekdays in July and would be a good place to have a tranquil hike. If you want to join this incredible team, there are more trainings coming up in the beginning of August.
Two Shoes Trek Challenge
Sat. Sept 4 – 11, 2021
This event showcases several county and city trails throughout our unique and beautiful landscape. Participants will run a 5-mile, 10-mile, or 15-mile course virtually on September 4, 5, or 6 in either Monument Valley Park or Palmer Park. The following weekend a live event will be held in Fox Run Regional Park. Participants will have the opportunity to run a 5k, 10k, or 30k. All proceeds from these events will go directly back into the Colorado Springs community for park and trail maintenance and to help PPRR with its mission of cultivating health and fitness in the Pikes Peak region through a community of runners and friends.


Family Ride Night
Thur. July 22, 5:30 – 7:00 PM
Come out for a community ride this Thursday. Meet up at Good Neighbors Meeting House with your bikes, strollers, scooters or just your own two feet! Enjoy a stroll with family and friend, and be rewarded with FREE popsicles, playground fun and happy hour specials! All ages welcome.
Kids to Parks
Sat. July 24, 10:00 – 1:00 PM
Celebrate Kids to Parks Day at Cheyenne Mountain State Park! Enjoy a variety of fun activities including archery, interactive displays, guided hikes, crafts and much more! Close-toed hiking shoes required for guided nature hikes.
Event and activities are free but a State Park’s pass is required.
Call 719-576-2016 for more info.
Pedal Wisdom: Ride With a Ranger
Mon. July 26, 7:00 – 9:00 AM
Join TOPS park staff and fellow mountain bike enthusiasts for a trail ride through Red Rock Canyon Open Space. This guided ride includes stops to help you discover Leave No Trace outdoor ethics, the history of the parks, and management practices that are being used to take care of these world class natural areas. The 2-3 mile route follows easy to moderate trails, accessible to beginner to advanced riders. The ride features plenty of water and scenery breaks. Although this ride is accessible to beginners, prior mountain biking experience is preferred! Think of this guided trail ride as an interpretive program on wheels rather than a course teaching technical mountain biking skills. Riders must bring their own mountain bike, helmet and water. Riders without proper gear will not be able to participate.
Concert at Monument Valley Park
Mon. July 26, 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Enjoy a free concert by Tribe (Blues, Reggae, New Orleans R&B) and food from Big Papa’s Grill Food Truck. Bring your blanket and join the Friends of Monument Valley Park on the lawn for a Musical Monday!

Celebrating COS 150 Years
Sat. July 31, 11:00 – 8:00 PM
Be a part of the all-day street festival on the city’s newest signature street, Vermijo Avenue, stretching four blocks from the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum. The day begins with a parade at 11:00. Visit and interact with more than 60 booths and activities that honor the city’s past and celebrate its future. There will also be 24 food trucks, beer gardens and two stages with a combined 16 hours of fun, live music from popular local bands like Martini Shot. Come by and say hello to TOSC!
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