Springs utilities to open Pikes Peak slope for recreation | SummitDaily.com

Springs utilities to open Pikes Peak slope for recreation

COLORADO SPRINGS ” Area residents will get more access to the south slope of Pikes Peak for recreation after facing locked gates for more than a century.

In an about-face, Colorado Springs Utilities said late last week that it will allow trails on thousands of acres that provide access to some of its 28 reservoirs. Staffers with the city-owned utility said earlier this month that opening the area to the public wasn’t an option.

But the staff on Thursday released proposed rules that would open half of the restricted area to recreation and outline a process for creating trails.

Residents attributed the sudden change to one-on-one discussions with utility officials, City Council members and the mayor.

“Being diplomatic doesn’t hurt,” said Curt Banks, former president of the Pikes Peak Range Riders, an equestrian group.

“We heard you,” said Scott Campbell, director of operations for the water system. “We know your trust in us has been shaken. We want to work to regain it.”

Campbell said he is committed to the Pikes Peak Multi-Use Plan developed by the utility, other agencies and area residents. The plan was adopted in 1999 but was scrapped after the 2001 terrorist attacks because of water-safety concerns.

Campbell said the priority will be completing the Ring the Peak trail, which needs about 10 miles through the south slope to complete a 70-mile circumnavigation of Pikes Peak.

Some people weren’t happy that the plan doesn’t address fishing at south slope reservoirs. The utility has resisted allowing fishing at south slope reservoirs because they can’t be diluted with water from pipelines if they are contaminated.

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