News Wednesday March 22, 2023

Leaving a trail of joy

There are some things we cannot control when we are on the trails: the weather, natural disasters and the actions of other people. What we can control is our own behavior and mindset. This spring – choose joy. Nature is our community’s happy place and we have a responsibility to leave things better than how we found it. Here are some ideas on how you can blaze a path of joy on your next adventure:


  • Smile, wave or say hello to people you pass on the trail.
  • Remember to share the trails. Learn more about hiking etiquette here.
  • Share uplifting stories on social media of joyful things you witness on the trails.
  • Make it a goal to show gratitude on every adventure. Thank a Park Ranger or volunteers you encounter. Thank people for yielding to you on the trail. After your adventure, write a thank you email to the Friends Groups or stewards who care for their parks.

If your favorite trails are full of drama and stress, check out the TOSC “Get Out Spread Out” page to find calmer alternatives where you can connect with nature and find peace. 


Forest Service Chief’s Award:

Pikes Peak Project


Congratulations to the Pikes Peak Ranger District, Pike-San Isabel National Forests, and their project partner, the City of Colorado Springs, for receiving a Chief’s award for “highlighting world-class recreation opportunities in the Rocky Mountain region” with their work on Pikes Peak Summit Project.


Learn More About the Award Winning Project and Other Award Winners


Trailability Returns – Volunteers Needed!

The Trailability program is back! This El Paso County Nature Centers program utilizes Terrain Hoppers, off road mobility vehicles, to ensure everyone has the chance to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty and independence of hiking on the Nature Center trails. Twenty-eight participants hiked the trails with one participant saying, “I loved the ability to be able to go to the top of the hill, that we’ve never experienced before. Actually, the freedom was an amazing experience. I felt empowered” and another saying, “[My favorite part was] the freedom of seeing new areas and my ability to take myself there.”   Registration for the 2023 Trailability season will open on April 1st and hikes will take place May 1st-October 31st, six whole months of hikes! Participants can hike in the morning or afternoon at Bear Creek and Fountain Creek Nature Centers on 1-3 miles of trails alongside family, friends, and a Nature Center staff member or volunteer.  

Participation in the program is completely free! More information.

  Not a Terrain Hopper user? Here’s how to get involved:  
  1. Spread the word– Know someone that could use this program? Send them the website!
  2. Volunteer– Volunteers join participants and their companions on their hike and along the way, learn about the flora, fauna, and each other. Training required. Follow the website link for training dates.
  3. Donate– Help everyone experience hike independently and continue to allow this program to be offered for free. Donation information can be found by following the website link.
Questions? Call Kylee Taylor at Bear Creek Nature Center- 719-520-6972 or Victoria Dinkel at Fountain Creek Nature Center- 719-520-6767.  

Love EPC Parks?

Here’s a great way to “give back!”


Citizen volunteers are needed to serve on the El Paso County Park Advisory Board. Applications for the open position are due by April 7, 2023.      


Three volunteers – one to represent District 1 (northern portion of El Paso County), one to represent District 2 (eastern portion of El Paso County) and District 3 (central portion of El Paso County).


The Park Advisory Board reviews and comments on items and proposals related to park policies, philosophies and objectives, and makes formal recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners. The Park Advisory Board meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. in Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs.


The volunteer application is found here.


Favorite Partner Hiking Bob served two terms on the board and shared this: “Being a member of the Park Advisory Board is a great way to represent your community, have a say in the development of public policy and gain a deeper understanding of the administration of our public lands”

Women’s History Month:

Defenders of Florissant


In the 1960s, the Florissant Fossil Beds, located about 35 miles west of Colorado Springs, were in danger of being developed into a neighborhood of A-frame houses. The grassroots advocacy efforts of the Defenders of Florissant, a group of women, led by Estella Leopold, Bettie Willard, Vim Wright, successfully championed an effort to protect the 6,000 acres in 1969. It was no easy feat pushing for the creation of a National Monument or stopping a development from happening when bulldozers are onsite.


Learn more about the heroic efforts it took to protect the Florissant here and see the “Making a Monument” timeline here.



The Outdoor Pikes Peak Initiative seeks your input regarding outdoor recreation and natural resource values for the Pikes Peak region! Your responses will play a vital role in the Outdoor Pikes Peak Initiative planning process for regional planning across Pikes Peak. To learn more about the initiative, please visit:


Please take 5-7 minutes to complete the survey below:



Glad You Asked: All About TOPS


We get it – the TOPS fund is complicated. Here’s a simple explanation of how the one penny on every ten dollars spent in Colorado Springs will be divided if Issue 1 wins in April:

Off the top: 6% for maintenance and 3% for administration (we need to take care of what we have and pay the people who run the program). Of the rest: 60% for open space and three-quarters of that must be used to BUY open space.

The remaining 40% is split between all city trails and parks to build and/or maintain. Here is the best part: TOPS undergoes regular audits so the dollars must be spent the way the voters expect them to be spent. Plus you have two volunteer boards approving the annual budget and TOSC attends every meeting to make sure your vision for the program is reflected in budget decisions!

Support for TOPS


TOSC members are passionate about our region’s trails and parks. Over the past few weeks, several “letters to the editor” have been spotted in local newspapers. This is one from a long time member of TOSC.



By now you should have received your mail-in ballot for the 4 April City election. It is a simple ballot – Mayor, City Council at Large, and one “Issue” – namely, TOPS (Trails and Open Space). We currently have an one-tenth of one percent addition to City Sales Tax for TOPS (about one burger per year per family). The provision for this tiny tax expires in 2025. The 4 April ballot issue is to extend that expiration date to 2045.


Yes, trees grow on open spaces; but open spaces do not grow on trees – just as trails do not materialize by trial and error. To keep expanding publicly-owned open space, we have to go out on a limb – that is, we have to commit to continual growth of the end of the branch. Twenty years ago our citizens did this for us by making a long-term commitment to continual purchasing of open space, some of the results of which are the Stratton Meadows Open Space and large tracts east of the present city limits.

Vote “Yes” on the TOPS issue.


J.E. Strub

Colorado Springs



TOPS Article in PPSC News

AJ Silva wrote an article for the Pikes Peak State College News that gives insight into TOPS and Ballot Initiative 1 that Colorado Springs is voting on right now. Here is an excerpt from the article…


“Supporters of the measure cite multiple reasons to vote “yes” on the resolution. In a 2015 PNAS Journal article, Payam Dadvand, a researcher with a Ph.D. in environmental epidemiology, notes that adults and children experience physical and mental health benefits from accessing and using outdoor parks and green spaces. Dadvand notes that children enjoy cognitive development improvements from these assets that could impart lifelong benefits.


Support for the resolution also comes from residents’ desire to preserve the natural beauty of the Colorado Springs area, which in turn requires the conservation of its diverse plant and animal species. According to a 2010 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation report by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, open space provides a city with financial value by reducing water treatment and infrastructure expenses, creating local economic activity, and increasing surrounding land value and limiting property taxes.”


Read the Whole Article Here

Election Information Hub


Over 18,000 people have dropped off their Colorado Springs spring election ballots so far. The number of returned ballots is steadily growing; however, just 6% of people in the Springs have voted so far. Are you still undecided? Do you need voter information? Below is a list of links and resources to help you. Remember, ballots are due by 7:00 PM on Tuesday, April 4th.


Issue 1 (TOPS Renewal)

What is TOPS? and TOPS Story Map featuring the conservation story of local TOPS parks.

-TOSC Executive Director, Susan Davies, and Alexea Veneracion, Director of Communications for Visit Colorado Springs, sit down on “The Extra” to talk about the upcoming election in April and education around the TOPS ballot issue. Listen Here.


City of Colorado Springs City Council (At-Large & Dist. 3) and Mayoral Election

-TOSC’s 2023 Candidates E-Forum. TOSC sent each candidate two questions. Read their answers here.


Voter Information


Colorado Springs election and voter information.

-What if I didn’t get my ballot yet? Call the City Clerk’s Office at 719-385-5901 or email

-Check your current voter status here.

-Curious to see how the voter turnout rate is in your neighborhood? Check out the Voter Turnout Map and Daily Ballot Summary Report.

Two More Reasons to Support Issue 1 – the TOPS 20 year Extension


Rock Island Trail – over the past 25 years has received $2,654,147 in TOPS support! Learn more about the trail here.


Mary Kyer Park, an 11 acre neighborhood park located near Northgate with a pond, fountain, playground, trail and sports courts. Built with TOPS funds! Watch the Relive Video for the Laforet Trail that goes through the park.


Imagine what we can accomplish with 20 more years of TOPS!!!

Join TOSC at Stellina Pizza Cafe!

Wed., March 22nd


Stellina Pizza Cafe selected TOSC as this week’s Community Constellation fundraiser recipient. A portion of their dinner sales will benefit TOSC.

Check out Stellina’s Menu

Exploring the East Side:

Eastridge Park & Dog Park


While east side residents anxiously await the creation of Coleman Park, an opportunity for recreation is currently provided by the Eastridge Park and Dog Park, managed by the Cherokee Metropolitan District in Cimarron Hills. The park features plenty of grass with a playground, lighted basketball courts, baseball fields and a pavilion.


A section of the Rock Island Trail runs alongside the park, making it an appealing spot to rest and ponder the trail’s future potential for connecting eastern commuters and outdoor enthusiasts to the city.


The Eastridge Dog Park is well-loved and sure to be full of friendly faces and wagging tails. Shade structures with benches are dispersed around off-leash areas for both large and small dogs. Park users are expected to be good stewards and pick up after their dog so the space can remain an enjoyable community hub.


Find more adventures to explore during spring break!


“Exploring the East Side” is a project of TOSC Intern, Cimarron Hatch as she explores park properties along and east of Powers Blvd.



Community Events

Wild Connections:

Fountain Creek Watershed Webinar

Wed., March 22nd 7-8:30 PM


Jerry Mallett, Keystone Ecosystems Initiative (KEI), will present a virtual presentation outlining the ways the Initiative is addressing current problems with nature-based solutions to enhance wetlands, increase groundwater and revitalize keystone species in the Fountain Creek Watershed.


Along with the collaboration of local volunteers and collaborating green organizations, the Initiative has “special” hard workers: beavers. To secure retention of water, both on streams above and aquifers below, human made beaver dam analogs (BDA) of natural materials expedite the animal’s building.


Wild Connections is helping KEI by inventorying stream beds on public lands in the Monument Creek portion of Fountain Creek watershed.


Webinar Registration and Information

Great American Cleanup

Sat., April 15th


Registration is live for the 2023 Great American Cleanup – Fountain Creek Watershed. The Fountain Creek Watershed District will conduct this 1-day cleanup in collaboration with local governments, nonprofits, Friends groups and neighborhoods. If interested in hosting an event site, contact


Trash bags and gloves will be provided. Please dress appropriately for our ever-changing weather, bring sunscreen, gloves, and wear closed toe shoes. Participants under 16 must be supervised. All participants are required to fill out a liability waiver.


More Information

Southern Colorado Trail Builders: Trails Bash

Save the Date: April 15th


Save the date: April 15, 2023 is the annual Trails Bash hosted by Southern Colorado Trail Builders and held at Lake Pueblo State Park!


Bring your bike or hiking shoes and explore the newly renovated trail network at the South Shore. There will be multiple groups for hikes and mountain bike rides based on skill level. Meet new friends and get a free lunch!


Explore the canyons, cliffs, shoreline and breathtaking views offered at Lake Pueblo State Park, and be sure to mark your calendars to join us at Trails Bash April 15.


More Information

CMC-PPG Monthly Program – Conserving Trails in the Pikes Peak Region: The Search for the Lost Limbaugh Canyon Trail

Mon., April 17th 6:30-8:00 PM


Attend an exciting journey into the world of trail maintenance and conservation! Discover the important role that maintaining our trails plays in preserving our environment and learn about the efforts to uncover the lost trail of Limbaugh Canyon. Learn about the challenges and rewards of preserving our trails for future generations. Don’t miss this informative and inspiring talk! Come listen on April 17th at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts for this enlightening program.


More Information




2nd Annual Earth Weekend Trail Work Collaboration: 3 Parks in 3 Days

April 21st, 22nd, 23rd


The Guardians of Palmer ParkFriends of Ute Valley Park, Friends of Peregrine Parks and Open Spaces and the City of Colorado Springs Parks Staff have teamed up for the 2nd Annual Earth Weekend Trail Work Collaboration. The fun will begin at Blodgett Open Space on Friday, April 21. Next we will be at Palmer Park on Saturday, April 22. We will then finish it all off at Ute Valley Park on Sunday, April 23. Additionally, Goat Patch Brewing is back once again to sponsor the event by providing drink tickets to all those who come out and help. It’s going to be a great time!


Signup at the City links below for one, two or all three days. You get to do awesome work, meet and spend time with wonderful people and then get to celebrate your awesomeness with some great libations!


Each days’ event will begin at 9:00 am and last until around 1:00 pm. Come on out and lend a hand; we’d love to see as many of you as possible. Please remember to dress appropriately for the work and weather, which includes long pants and closed toed shoes. Let’s do this!!!


Friday at Blodgett Open Space:×3832


Saturday at Palmer Park:


Sunday at Ute Valley Park:

2023 Pikes Peak Crew Leader Training

May 6th and 7th


The 2023 Pikes Peak Regional Crew Leader Training will take place Saturday, May 6th and Sunday, May 7th, 2023 (attendance during both days is required). This year’s training will occur on Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain in the North Slope Recreation Area.


The Pikes Peak Regional Crew Leader Training is an intensive weekend-long training for experienced volunteers who are interested in becoming certified Volunteer Crew Leaders. The training is hosted in partnership by Trails and Open Space Coalition, Rocky Mountain Field Institute and the City of Colorado Springs, Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department.


This training will hit capacity soon. Don’t delay registering! Register here.

Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival

May 18-19-20-21

Early Bird registration opens March 25th


Attention birders! Early bird registration for the 8th annual Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival starts on March 25th at 10:00 AM. Register early to secure spots in the most popular sessions and field trips that fill up fast.


More Information

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