New life for Waldo Canyon is on the way more than six years since the devastating eponymous wildfire scorched the popular hiking area, along with much of Colorado Springs’ Westside. The U.S. Forest Service reopened public access to the area from Rampart Range Road in October 2017. Now, with a $45,000 grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) is leading the charge to restore the area, along with three primary partners and about 25 stakeholder organizations called the Waldo Canyon Roudtable.
Last year, Re-Imagine Waldo launched an 18-month planning process with the end goal to receive funding for restoration and new trails. In addition to its primary partnerships and roundtable discussions with about 25 invested organizations, one of the next key steps for RMFI is involving the public, says Jennifer Peterson, RMFI executive director.
“There will be at least three public workshops in 2019,” Peterson says. “This is for anyone who wants to provide input, be involved, and have their ideas heard and recorded.”
After the public meetings, RMFI will submit a final proposal to Colorado Parks and Wildlife by June 2020, followed by additional Forest Service study and analysis of the area.
“My dream is we will get a plan in place that’s implementable and will help facilitate public access of all kinds into the Waldo Canyon area,” Peterson says.
It’s important for the public to be involved, says Susan Davies, executive director for Trails and Open Space Coalition, one of the primary partners.
“This is their canyon; these are their trails,” Davies says. “We know people in this community are ultra users. They get out on the trail systems regularly and they feel real ownership with these trails. I hope as many people as possible will come out and express what they loved in the old Waldo Canyon, what they want to see in the new Waldo Canyon, and what they want those trails to be.”
You can take part in the project by following along at waldocanyonplanning.com and attending the public meetings.
“I’d like to think of our planning as a clean slate right now,” Peterson says. “As much as we think we have ideas, I know for a fact the public is going to come up with something we haven’t thought of.”