This article originally appeared in the North Springs Edition
The word of the day is change. Not the nickels, dimes and quarters rolling around in your car’s console kind of change. Nope. This use of the word would be the embrace change kind of change.
Some people embrace change, many do not and would rather resist change. Change can be negative, but positive too. But here I will identify good change for you to know about, that you could help with, or may in fact already be involved in.
First up is an announcement of a change in the park ranger that will oversee the Trails, Open Space and Parks portion of Ute Valley Park. The new ranger is Jacob Reta. Jacob is excited about this opportunity and very eager to learn about the park property. He has plans to initiate a few volunteer projects for the fall. Jacob recently shared with the Friends of Ute Valley Park this note….
“Howdy, my name is Jacob. I am originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico. I am Tigua Pueblo from the village of Tortugas. I obtained my degree from New Mexico State University in the field of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology. I enjoy being outdoors whether it is hunting, fishing, hiking, or camping. I love to teach about natural resources with both the western learning and deep-rooted traditional ways that come from my tribe. I like to have my trusty steed Bailey (dog) by my side whenever I go out on the trails. I am super excited to be part of a team that has so much potential in bettering the natural areas we strive to manage and protect.”
The FUVP says welcome Jacob, and we look forward to your efforts and guidance in the park.
The volunteer work sessions initiated by the FUVP from April through September have successfully ended for this year. Now we change over to monitoring the park through the fall and winter and will conduct our planning to determine what improvements and changes will come about next year. Volunteer support stayed strong again this year and we will tally the results and share them in this space soon. There will also be a recognition event to thank the many volunteers that stepped up to help with a variety of projects.
Another change headed our way comes from the city. They have not requested a funding increase for Trails, Open Space and Parks for 24 years. That change will appear in the form of a miniscule increase asked of taxpayers on the election ballot headed our way in early October. The population growth in Colorado Springs, and the overwhelming pursuit of outdoor recreation during the pandemic, has significantly increased the activity in our parks and open spaces. Chances are good by your reading in this space you enjoy and appreciate Ute Valley Park and Open space. So, I encourage you to look for your ballot and hopefully show support to this effort to allow Colorado Springs to secure adequate openspace and continue to provide well-maintained parks and trails throughout the city.
Another change being requested by the city is to allow $20 million from a TABOR retention and be designated from this year’s funds and go towards a citywide fire mitigation project. With the local economy doing well the city occasionally collects more revenues than it was designated for in a year. In that instance, it can be allowed to let the city keep those funds to dedicate to specific projects.
The City of Colorado Springs is in a position this year to ask voters to designate this year’s funds to go toward citywide fire mitigation projects. On the ballot this will be Issue 2D, and if approved by voters, it doubles the size of neighborhood chipping programs to help keep our homes and neighborhoods safe. We have certainly experienced a very smokey summer here in Colorado Springs due to smoke penetrating our atmosphere from fires elsewhere. So much so that smoke and haze have been included in regular weather forecasts. This effort to improve safety would allow us to catch up on 3,500 backlogged acres of mitigation. Plus, it would help to expand the mitigation programs capacity of fire risk reduction from 2,000 acres up to 7,000 acres annually.
Several changes may be coming but they are all good changes with the potential to significantly improve the quality-of-life aspect to users of Ute Valley Park and throughout neighborhoods and parks around the Pikes Peak Region.