Post Wildfire Recreation Planning: Waldo Canyon

We’ve talked before on this blog about fire recovery, restrictions and rebuilding recreation infrastructure post-fire. I thought this was an interesting approach..funding is coming from the State to start a planning process. Here’s a link to the article from the Colorado Springs Gazette:

The Rocky Mountain Field Institute received a $45,000 planning grant for the trail and canyon from Colorado Parks and Wildlife State Trails Program, Peterson, the nonprofit’s executive director, announced Friday.

“Because of the hard work of so many (since the Waldo Canyon fire), we can begin to look toward the future of the entire Waldo Canyon area to provide new opportunities for outdoor recreation and public access,” she said.

The funding comes five months after the U.S. Forest Service reopened the burn area accessible from Rampart Range Road.

The planning process is not as simple as restoring the network of trails that existed before the 2012 fire, Pikes Peak Ranger Oscar Martinez and Peterson explained. The Waldo Canyon Trail in Ute Pass west of Colorado Springs was washed away by flooding, which necessitates a complete trail realignment; the U.S. 24 trailhead has insufficient parking and traffic safety concerns; and people’s expectations of what the canyon can offer recreationally have changed.

“If you looked at the usage before the burn, it was a popular trail, but our use numbers from a recreation standpoint have skyrocketed since,” Martinez said. “And along with that, we’ve gotten a lot of the requests from the public for additional uses. In those five years, those numbers and what people hope we do with that landscape have changed.”

The planning process also offers opportunities for trail expansion, Peterson said.

“We can look at new trailhead locations, new trail designs, dispersed camping locations on Rampart Range Road and possible trail connections to places like Blodgett Peak Open Space,” she said.

Those options would not have existed without the patience to allow the vegetation to regrow, the soil to stabilize and the safety hazards to wane.

“People may say that five and a half years was too long, but these things take time,” Peterson said.

Working with the U.S. Forest Service and Trails and Open Space Coalition, RMFI will use the grant to hire a consultant to facilitate a “Waldo Canyon Roundtable.” Modeled on the Bear Creek Roundtable, the public input process will be designed to draw recreationists, conservationists, land managers and other interested parties into a conversation about public access and resource protection.

The consultant, Peterson explained, will eliminate agency biases and relieve RMFI of the time-consuming components of public engagement.

Also, I thought the following quotes are interesting. The generality (cannot expend resources on planning) is not correct. Folks spend millions on forest plans, for example, travel management plans, project plans and so on. Perhaps this is function of the gap between needs and budget in recreation. Good news.. others are filling in some of the gaps.

As a multiple-use agency, the Forest Service usually cannot expend resources on planning.

“As a federal agency, we get support to build trails. We don’t get the support necessarily, in time or money, to fund the planning piece,” said Martinez. “The grant allows us to spend the energy to ask questions of what do we do here? What do we want to see here? What do we want to build here?”

5 thoughts on “Post Wildfire Recreation Planning: Waldo Canyon”

  1. Sharon, the following in not intended for publication. If you can use the information, or know of someone in the geographic data world, please share this with them.

    This e-mail is prompted by a recent mailer advertising real estate properties in Yuba County, California.. March 10, Mario day.

    In the text of the advertising, the road was correctly identified as Gary Drive. The map identified the road incorrectly as Gary Way.

    Roughly twenty years ago, an ambulance was dispatched to the incorrect location of Gary. The ambulance went to Rackerby, not Browns Valley.
    I talked to Gary Lippincott, Yuba Surveyor about the street names. I also checked with the U.S. Postal Service. Both the USPS and County Surveyor were incomplete in quality control of street names, in my opinion. I have not checked back to see if the name Gary is used in several locations in Yuba County. What I expect is that officials will answer the Gary question and fail to generalize the idea of geographic data quality control. Quality control to include comments from users of the data. Such as firefighters, emergency response vehicles, police, ambulance, utility repair.

    These are my requests.
    1. Will the keeper of geographic names please identify themselves and how the various data sources are coordinated? Please trace your chain of communication back to the Federal Agencies. USGS, FEMA, BLM, etc.\
    My understanding of Office of Management and Budget Circular 16
    is that geographic data is to be coordinated at the Federal level. Local governments are to follow OMB A 16, especially if federal funds are involved.
    2. Will the users of geographic data learn to use the metadata that identifies the responsible source of data and when the data was last updated. Along with this request is learning how to report inconsistencies between the real world and geographic data and who to report them to.
    3. Data has a life. Things change in the real world. Who is the responsible agent for periodic review of time dependent data? For instance, the source of water for fire fighting in Valley of the Eagles.
    4. Is there geographic atmospheric data that identifies watershed capacities? Capacity in the sense of floods, streams leaving their banks, when the rate and duration of precipitation indicate flood.
    5. What is the metadata associated with County Service Areas (CSA) in California? Such things as articles of incorporation, financial review, measurement of goodness of service? Do roads connect? What is the weight bearing of the road? Where are the locations of water for fire fighting? Where are the locations for potential staging of water.

    [email protected]

  2. I see a monster – the king kong – of land and social destruction looming behind this “all is great” approach to exploiting public lands for recreation; that Monster is mountain biking, its aggressive promoters, and its subsequent proliferation into lawless activity and social divisiveness. BEWARE!

  3. “If you looked at the usage before the burn, it was a popular trail, but our use numbers from a recreation standpoint have skyrocketed since,” Martinez said. “And along with that, we’ve gotten a lot of the requests from the public for additional uses. In those five years, those numbers and what people hope we do with that landscape have changed.”

    Should we conclude that fires are good for recreation? I suppose demand is growing in general, but “skyrocketing” in 5 years?

    In my experience, there are not many granting entities that are willing to fund planning since it is hard to show off the results (a plan?) to their donors.


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