Local outdoors advocates are collaborating to develop a 10-year plan to guide current and future conservation and recreation in the Pikes Peak region. It’s a little like a real life Avengers or Justice League, mobilizing to protect our inspiring landscape. Initiated by Palmer Land Conservancy through a grant by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Elevate the Peak is led by a coalition of leaders from 11 nonprofits, including Trails and Open Space Coalition, Rocky Mountain Field Institute and Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates.
“Through Elevate the Peak, our community has an opportunity to showcase, access and protect what makes this region so special—the great outdoors. Now more than ever, as our region experiences unprecedented population growth, we collectively recognize the importance of defending and stewarding the land,” says Rebecca Jewett, president and CEO of Palmer Land Conservancy. “Together, with the community’s input, we can create a new vision for the future, prioritizing and aligning projects, earmarking funds and protecting the region’s crown jewel—our outdoor environment.”
Through a multi-tiered, six-month, engagement initiative, Elevate the Peak will include web-based engagement and geographically targeted conversations to listen and learn from all corners of the community. The goal is to better understand how Coloradans of all ages, backgrounds and identities use our outdoor spaces to work, play, escape, engage and connect. The initiative seeks to learn what all residents love about calling the Pikes Peak Region home, as well as what excites, inspires, and concerns them as the region experiences rapid change.
“The way we spend time outdoors is as diverse as the people who live in our community,” says Chris Aaby, executive director of the Catamount Institute. “However, communities of color, rural communities and other marginalized people are typically overlooked in the planning and development of outdoor spaces. Elevate the Peak is committed to shining light on the wishes of communities whose voices are historically not heard so together we can create a more equitable and just outdoors. I encourage all citizens in the Pikes Peak region to get involved, especially if you do not see yourself represented or feel disconnected from the outdoors in our region.”
The Leadership Council of Elevate the Peak is asking residents of El Paso, Teller, Park and Fremont counties to share their concerns, expectations and input on regional priorities to help guide the project. Maybe you hate that there’s not a park within walking distance of your home. Maybe you love spending weekends with friends for a lakeside picnic at Memorial Park. Or perhaps you regularly hike, bike, run or ride horses on local trails.
Through August, participants who sign up for updates and take a short survey at Elevatethepeak.org are entered to win prizes. Each week, Elevate the Peak will randomly draw a survey participant to win prizes, such as rafting trips, fly fishing expeditions, gift cards to local farms and more.
To join the conversation or learn more, visit ElevatethePeak.org.
Who’s Behind Elevate the Peak?
The regional Leadership Council includes representatives from these organizations in El Paso, Teller, Park and Fremont counties:
By the Numbers
Elevate the Peak includes an economic analysis conducted by Tatiana Bailey, Ph.D., director of the Economic Forum at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, to provide research and data regarding the return on investment of land conservation and outdoor recreation. Here’s a glance at some regional statistics:
- For every $1 invested in land conservation in Colorado, up to $12 is seen in economic benefit
- 71% of Colorado residents participate in outdoor recreation each year
- $2.14 billion is spent on outdoor recreation each year in Congressional District 5.
- 229,000 jobs created by outdoor recreation statewide
- $28 billion in annual consumer spending in Colorado