Changes afoot at Ute Valley Park

· 4 min read

This article was originally published in the Woodman Edition

As we go through our life, we come to realize that change is and will always be a constant. A lot of the change we experience is expected and accepted. Much of the change we can control, but there is a lot we cannot.

Some change we initiate, some we are good to accept, and some we really resist. Change is inevitable, time for a change, and change is good are all expressions we commonly hear on the subject. We recently changed seasons from winter to spring, although with our winter weather of late it is often difficult to discern there was a change.

Some good changes have happened recently on The Friends of Ute Valley Park website (www.friendsofutevalleypark.com). We invite you to come visit the site to see our fresh new look that provides current news, park use rules, volunteering opportunities, and other key details. On the site we have also included the Leave No Trace 7 principles to encourage all of us to do our very best when enjoying other parks.

Warmer, drier weather will eventually arrive, and along with it the Friends of Ute Valley Park are beginning our Volunteer Evening Work Sessions. They get underway on Wednesday, April 7. Those sessions take place, weather permitting, the first and third Wednesday of the month, from April through September. Last year we were challenged by the effects of COVID in not allowing us the number of volunteers that were willing to turn out. This year, with good guidance from the Colorado Springs Park, Recreation and Cultural Services, one change has been made. If the volunteer group grows larger, then multiple groups can be created, which will allow for work to be done on different projects in separate areas to provide the necessary social distancing.

Registration is done via the CERVIS site. To sign-up and learn all the details go to www.friendsofutevalleypark.com.

Listed below are some of the tentatively scheduled work projects for this year:

  • Reroute winding woods south, where we put our drains in last year.
  • Closure of rogue trails going up to Rattlesnake Ridge. This would also close off the largest undisturbed natural area in Ute Valley Park.
  • Closure of rogue trails that originate off the new Regional Trail.
  • Another project for hopeful completion this year by an Eagle Scout is to close the Creek Trail. That is the last trail that traverses through the undisturbed 40-acre natural area created two summers ago.

A significant change coming this year was the recent announcement by Colorado Springs Park, Recreation and Cultural Services to allow Class 1 electric pedal-assist bicycles city-wide on all trails that allow bicycles. This is a pilot program that will begin on May 31.

Due to the pandemic, our area parks typically experienced a significant activity increase with people pursuing an escape and physical activity. It is unknown how to project the amount of additional trail traffic with this change. Medicine Wheel, a local mountain bike advocacy group, was generally in favor of e-bikes access to all trails coming along in a step-by-step process — but not in a blanket effort such as this.

Pedal-assist e-bikes generally max out at 20 mph, and a 15 mph speed limit has been set for ALL bikes on trails. That limit will be posted, although I do not think we will see speed traps set up anywhere, so enforcement fulfillment is unclear. The community input was pretty much a 50/50 split on support or non-support. With the numbers basically being equal, going forward 100% came as a surprise, and has certainly caused some fervor.

Also, City Ordinance 97-60 states the use of no motorized vehicles to be used on park trails, but e-bikes use an electric motor making them a motorized vehicle. So that means the current ordinance structure is an item that need to be addressed.

Lots of changes are happening and will continue to do so. Like our recent move to Daylight Saving Time by changing our clocks, some of these changes may take a while to get used to.