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Object to the Closure of the Bear Creek Trails

 Colorado Springs, Colorado 

 

To review the sample Objection to Closure (send this to your representative): To add your name to the Petition Objecting to Closure      

 

The emails to contact the USFS and your representatives are:

US Forest Service Objection filing: Forest Service ;
USFS: Allan Hahn ; ahahn@fs.fed.us (719) 636-1602;

Contact all council members by email at: AllCouncil@springsgov.com AllCouncil@springsgov.com or by calling (719) 385-5986. http://www.springsgov.com/ .

Email Mayor Bach at sbach@springsgov.com

Doug Lamborn: Doug.Lamborn@mail.house.gov 1125 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 330, Colorado Springs, CO 80920; Phone: (719) 520-0055

Pete Lee: pete.lee.house@state.co.us;

   
http://www.flickr.com/photos/51919166@N02/   Flickr Account for large versions of historical images    
 

Closure of the Bear Creek Trail System

 


 

Closure of the Bear Creek Trail System

On March 27, 2014, the US Forest Service objection period concerning the closure of the trails in the Bear Creek trail system and drainage.  As a hiker in that area for many years, I urge everyone to file an objection either by contacting your representatives (City Council, Mayor, Doug Lamborn, and the  USFS) or by joining my objection in support of Alternative A.  If you do not file by March 27, you will not have standing to have your position considered concerning the closure of the trails.


The Cheyenne Canyon and the Bear Creek drainage area are a system of trails that are second only to Pike Peak Barr Trail in historical importance for the Pikes Peak region. Built in 1878, the trails lead to the summit of Pikes Peak, Almagre Mountain and Mount Rosa and were used by the pioneers including Dr. Mayo Smith, Katherine Bates, Edwin Giles, Rosa, and the famous Captain Jack herself. Today, the area still has historically important remains of Professor Loud’s Cabins, the Bear Creek Lodge, Kellogg survey markers, and artifacts from the homesteaders of the 1800s.


There is no statement or scientific evidence in any report that correlates a reduction in habitat or fish population with the use by hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders or even motor vehicles on the trail. The Forest Service (USFS) has not provided any scientific studies or reports that show what percentage of the sediment in the fish habitat is the result of natural causes or human causes.  In fact, no report has been provided that states that the use of the trail by recreational users has any significant harmful effect on the fish habitat.  The recreational users point out that that, in the 140 years that the fish have been in the stream, the trail has been used extensively without any harm to the fish.

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Comparison of Jones Park 1903 to same Photo in 2010

     

This image shows the Captain Jacks trail at the bottom of an eroding slope made of decomposed granite.

Please make your own determination as to the source of the erosion and whether closing the trail to hiking will solve the issue of erosion into the drainage.

 

Erosion Problems

 


The USFS has misidentified the source of the erosion by failing to study the portion of erosion occurring from natural slopes versus the amount attributable to users of the trail   The USFS solution of closing the entire trail system and blaming the users that walk at the bottom of the eroding slopes will not fix the source of erosion. 

 
The solution, to erosion of decomposing granite slopes, is to build support to prevent the rocks from falling into the basin of Bear Creek.  The controls often involve the creation of a physical barrier, such as vegetation or rock, to absorb some of the energy of the wind or water that is causing the erosion.

 

     

 

Erosion Contraols installed on lower Captain Jacks by users. No cost to local or federal government.

Erosion Control Solutions

 

The solution, to erosion of decomposing granite slopes, is to build support to prevent the rocks from falling into the basin of Bear Creek.  The controls often involve the creation of a physical barrier, such as vegetation or rock, to absorb some of the energy of the wind or water that is causing the erosion

The USFS has the duty to maintain the trails.  Trail erosion controls are an alternative remedy that the USFS has the ability to provide.  Erosion controls have been installed on: the 7 Bridges trail, on the Columbine trail, on Mt. Cutler, and on the lower Captain Jacks trails.  Why has the USFS not included an option to install erosion controls on the Bear Creek trails? 

     

The trail used by users is on the far right. Has the USFS correctly identified the erosion problem as the users of the trail?


 

Erosion Control Solutions

The USFS has not performed adequate maintenance on the area.  In truth, recreational users have been responsible for the maintenance in the area to protect the fish. Bridges have been constructed; culverts built and maintained; embankments stabilized; trails improved; signage posted; all by volunteers from the community of recreational users. 

User groups continue to be an option to take actions improving erosion control in the basin.  The USFS has inadequate resources to manage this area without help from the users that will be excluded.  However, the USFS has refused to consider the help offered by user groups. 

 

     
     


.  The proposal below is believed to address the issue of erosion and place the duty on the USFS to correct the actual issue that is the cause of the sediment in the stream.


My Proposed Alternative D: The USFS will obtain scientific data as to the primary sources of erosion in the Bear Creek drainage.  The USFS will identify the areas of erosion that causes damage to the GBT habitat and will stabilize the conditions.  The USFS will work with the user groups to improve the habitat by erosion control measures including installing bridges, culverts, stabilizing slopes, trail improvements, sediment traps, and other types of actions designed to improve the habitat of the GBT.


 

The USFS has offered options:

  1. Alternative A is the option to keep the trails open;
  2. Alternative B is the option to close seven of the most important trails along the front-range. 

The carrot with Alternative B is that a “by pass” trail may be built.

However, for the “by pass” trail, there is: no funding, no estimate of costs, no bids, no date for completion, no selected trail builder, no environments studies, no survey and no current compliance with the federal regulatory structure for bidding or contracts. 

Worse yet, the “by pass” trails do not allow access to the destinations important to hikers. 


My Proposed Alternative D: The USFS will obtain scientific data as to the primary sources of erosion in the Bear Creek drainage.  The USFS will identify the areas of erosion that causes damage to the GBT habitat and will stabilize the conditions.  The USFS will work with the user groups to improve the habitat by erosion control measures including installing bridges, culverts, stabilizing slopes, trail improvements, sediment traps, and other types of actions designed to improve the habitat of the GBT

 

     
Homestead Claims Map  

Homesteaders

Here is the Map of the area showing the pioneers homestead claims. Many of the homestead sites contain artifacts that are still present or the cellars of the cabins that were once on the sites.

More on the Homesteads

 

     


Jack by Fence
Captain Jack with Gun and Pick Ax
 

Is there a danger to the fish?

 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Greenback Cutthroat Trout Recovery Team Leader:

Doug Krieger, senior aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Greenback Cutthroat Trout Recovery Team Leader, provided an update on the condition of the fish at the 2/25/14 public meeting. He said: “the fish are doing just fine” and that the breeding in fisheries now has over 3,500 GBT available for stocking (they started with 64 in the breeding program 3 years ago).

The approximately 1,000 GBT fish in Bear Creek are not known to have been harmed by last year’s flood or the drought conditions of previous years.

     
Kellogg Survey Marker
Historic Kellogg Survey Markers




 

The emails to contact the USFS and your representatives are:

US Forest Service Objection filing: Forest Service ;
USFS: Allan Hahn ; ahahn@fs.fed.us (719) 636-1602;

Contact all council members by email at: AllCouncil@springsgov.com AllCouncil@springsgov.com or by calling (719) 385-5986. http://www.springsgov.com/ .

Email Mayor Bach at sbach@springsgov.com

Doug Lamborn: Doug.Lamborn@mail.house.gov 1125 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 330, Colorado Springs, CO 80920; Phone: (719) 520-0055

Pete Lee: pete.lee.house@state.co.us;

Please take action to preserve your trail system. 

 

     
Bear Creek Inn
Bear Creek Inn & Resort
1924
 

Edwin & Edith Giles who built and operated the Bear Creek Inn

     
     

Cutthroad 

Greenback Cutthroat Trout

 

The End of the Trail

The Greenback Cutthroat Trout are not native to the Bear Creek, but were introduced into Bear Creek likely from the Platte River drainage.  They were reportedly brought in by burros in buckets and stocked into the ponds in Jones Park as part of the stocking either by Jones (appx. 1875) or Romyn (1903).  A fire in the 1850s left Bear Creek sterile of fish, and the Greenback Cutthroat Trout were able to survive due to the lack of competition from other trout. 

As of 2013, all the trails into the Bear Creek drainage (including Captain Jacks, the Bear Creek Trail, Jones Park, Louds Cabins, and portions of the 7 Bridges Trail that connect) are scheduled for closure as a means to protect the Greenback Cutthroat Trout.

Public opinion has been strongly against closure of the trails based on the lack of any scientific study showng what damage is caused by recreational use to the fish habitat. 

To date, no study has been done that shows what portion of the sediment in the stream is due to human factors versus natural erosion.  The argument has been proposed that the trail has become part of the ecosystem after co-existing with the fish for 140 years and that changing the use may negatively impact the fish (i.e. no maintenance of culverts, bridges, etc. and less packing may increase sediment flowing to the creek). 

Efforts are underway to use fisheries to introduce the fish to other habitat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiHMnfwHrKE .

At last report, the fish were being bred in two fisheries and there are plans to stock "thousands" of fish in the Platte River basin starting in 2014.

Questions exist concerning the necessity of closing the area to recreational usage. 

The Forestry Service requests input concerning the closure of Jones Park area and the trails with access to the area.  Forestry Service: 719-633-9384.

More on the End of the Trail