Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Opening the South Slope? There's talk, sort of...

Colorado Springs Utilities has unveiled a new draft watershed access policy that lays out how much access regular folks will have to certain city-owned reservoirs. The big open question in this is the South Slope, a clutch of five reservoirs on the south side of Pikes Peak that has been off limits for almost a century.

In 2000 Utilities seemed ready to slowly allow access. Then came the terrorist attacks of 2001 and security closed any talks.
Now, after much prodding from local groups such as Friends of the Peak, which would like to see the Ring the Peak Trail completed, the draft policy has come out.

Read it here.

Here's the general reaction: Many local hikers are angry. The vague language of the plan seems to suggest the South Slope will stay off limits, except for a narrow trail corridor for the Ring the Peak trail. Utilities officials said they can't open the area because it harbors "sensitive species" but they did not name those animals.

"We've been double crossed," Zoltan Malocsay, author of the "Trails Guide, Denver to Pikes Peak," who was on a committee that advised the city on the opening of North Slope Reservoirs in 1992, said on AM 1580 yesterday. "This has nothing to do with preservation. It has to do with maintaining a private fishing and hunting preserve for [Utilities employees.]"

The next public meeting is in February. The question is whether access advocates will be willing to settle for a trail corridor, or whether they push for more access to the South Slope.

What will happen? We'll see.


Anonymous said...

Given recent news that Denver water customers are spending millions each year to fix the damage caused to one of its reservoirs by the Hayman fire, I respect our city's effort to manage and protect our local water supply. Given the drought we've been in, I don't think our community can afford to lose a critical source of water.

Anonymous said...

After reading the draft policy I'm amazed at the severity of the restrictions. Is anyone aware of another area/watershed that has placed similar draconian restrictions on PUBLIC land? The public safety concerns sound overblown.

Dave Philipps said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zen said...

The Hayman fire started miles from Strontia Springs and Cheeseman Reservoirs. A fire that starts above Manitou or off Gold Camp Road could just as easily devastate the South Slope. Keeping it closed will do nothing to reduce the fire danger.

But OPENING it could. Poachers and trespassers are already there. What we need to do is open it to the law abiding eye.

Homestake, Montgomery, Rampart, Nichols, North Slope are all better off because they are open. Why not South Slope? Keeping it closed is a decision I hope all non-motorized recreationists will protest -- LOUDLY.

Zen said...

Bias implies that there is another rational way to approach this issue. But the truth is CSU has nothing to stand on here. Zoltan Malocsay proves that in his book "Opening Forbidden Lakes".

CSU's use of the Hayman Fire as cover is in my opinion a deliberate attemp to mislead. The Hayman fire started NOWHERE near Cheesman. Keeping South Slope closed makes it more vulnerable to fire, not less - a fact CSU does not want you to know.

The North Slope is much healthier since it was opened to the public. The USFS wouldn't even let Colorado Springs build Rampart unless it was opened to the public. Now we hear Cripple Creek is finally opening their reservoirs too.

CSU - it is time.

Zen said...

I have to add that I find it rather amusing that CSU wants to be the friggen Sierra Club when it comes to keeping South Slope closed - it's all about "environmental sensitivity" they say.

But when the environmental community pointed the finger at CSU's wastewater and stormwater handling, environmentalists were meddlesome devils.

I'm thinking "environmental sensitivity" is a phrase CSU is using, but certainly not meaning. Because if CSU really cared about the environment in South Slope, they'd open it up to law abiding non-motorized use.