Aug 15, 2012 7:55 PM by Matt Stafford
The U.S. Forest Service is moving into its second phase of the plan to restore land for the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area, but in the process several favorite trails remain closed to the public.
Mark Koenig last hiked Blodgett Peak in May.
"It was a beautiful hike; really enjoyed it," says Koenig.
He's not getting a chance to hike it again on this trip.
"It really breaks your heart because it is a beautiful place," says Koenig. "There were a lot of people using this park and now they don't know when they'll be able to get back."
"People have their habits and they want to get back in there," says Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition.
Habits or not; for now trails inside and the entire burn perimeter are closed to the public.
"Blodgett Peak Open Space as well as Mountain Shadows Open Space and Foothills Trails," lists Davies. "Those three properties were affected."
That's in the city limits; 179 acres of trails and open space affected in all, 20 percent of it severely burned.
Other trails in the county are closed too.
"The ones with the most interest are the trails right around Rampart Reservoir and the Waldo Canyon Trail," explains Rob Deyerberg, a fire information officer with the US Forest Service. Like the others, they remain closed while work continues.
"This is actually the second phase of rehabilitation and restoration," says Deyerberg.
The first stage was repairing fire lines. Now the Waldo Canyon Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team is protecting from erosion. Air drops of mulch are scheduled for the week of August 27th; they're designed to help the vegetation to grow and hold in the ground.
Some of it will be dropped around Rampart Reservoir.
"Then some of these other areas really help to protect the various homes and properties right in Colorado Springs itself," says Deyerberg, pointing on the map to places in the foothills on Colorado Springs' west side.
Another area receiving the mulch drops will be in places along State Highway 24.
When will the trails reopen?
"It could be several months or much longer," says Deyerberg.
"Yes, we don't have Waldo Canyon, and we can't get up into Blodgett, but we have so many other fabulous regional parks and trails to use while we wait for these to become whole again," says Davies.
When the "all clear" to go back in the burned area comes from the Forest Service, volunteer groups are already set to go to work. They're called "friends" of the trails and open spaces; if you'd like to get involved you can find out more information by clicking here.