Jan 26, 2010 11:31 PM by John Romero

Opening of Pikes Peak south slope being planned

It seems the discussion has gone on for years. Now it looks like Colorado Springs Utilities is ready to open the southern slope of Pikes Peak for public use. "We're proposing some hiking trails, some fishing opportunities and also some hand launch boating." explains Kirsta Scherff-Norris, a wildlife biologist and project manager for Springs Utilities. The move has many outdoor enthusiasts excited. "We've waited a long time." says Susan Davies, Executive Director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, "There have been lots of discussions, lots of other studies that have been done. People want to see trails."

It hasn't been an easy journey, there's still a lot of planning to be done on some very pristine wild land that's been previously untouched by the general public. "We're really trying to find the balance between what we need to do by providing drinking water to our customers and recreational opportunities for our citizens while protecting the environment." explains Sherff-Norris. "We're also pretty happy that it's going to be limited use at first because it's a real fragile area and they do need to pay attention to the environment up there." adds Davies. Part of that environment includes some areas CSU's consultants have said need to remain off-limits. "There's actually a part of the property that the consultant has recommended we not provide any recreational opportunity on." says Scherff-Norris, "Primarily to protect fens which are special types of wetlands and also big horn sheep lambing and wintering areas."

Despite a lot of gains in the projects planning, one big unknown remains. Will utilities customers see an increase on their bills to help foot the cost? "Funding is one of the things that we haven't ironed out yet." explains Scherff-Norris, "We're not sure where the funding is going to come from."

If you would like to check out the proposal from Colorado Springs Utilities you can CLICK HERE for more. To take part in the public comment session you can CLICK HERE to go to Colorado Springs Utilities website.



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