First work days of 2017 announced!

Come out and join us for the first workdays of the 2017 season!

  • Wednesday April 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday April 11, 9-11 a.m
  • Wednesday April 19 , 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. April through September.

Tools provided, PLEASE wear close toed shoes.

Email Nick Cirincione or Christine Thomas to sign up to volunteer.  Meet your trail crew leader at the Pinon Valley Park (west) entrance to Ute Valley Park. The meeting location can change, so please check the FUVP Facebook page for updates. Any cancellations due to weather will also be posted on Facebook.

2016 Accomplishments, Big Plans for 2017

A Letter from the Board President

Dear Friends,
2016 was another amazing year with a long list of accomplishments for Ute Valley Park. It took many organizations and individuals to make it all happen: Parks and open space professionals, local businesses, board members and other volunteers.

2016 Accomplishments:

West Ridge Trail: A new trail along the East face of the Western ridge was completed by volunteers and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, This is a fantastic trail that gains the Western ridge of the park and gives unobstructed views to the East and West.

East Loop Trail: With the $20,000 grant from REI we received last year the southern part of this loop trail was 90% completed. Finishing the bridge over the creek and connecting this trail to the newly constructed trail head on the HP
access road will be completed shortly.
 

Volunteers repaired existing trails:

More than 50 people volunteered a total of more than 504 hours on first and third Wednesdays to help improve the park we all love.

 

Ute Valley Park was the host site for the Blue Moon Trail Run Series:

In 2016 the Blue Moon Trail Run in Ute Valley Park was again a three-race series. An average of nearly 100 adults and kids ran in each race in June, July and August. The race series provided an affordable e
vent accessible to all abilities
* Had little to no physical impact on the park
* Minimized waste by promoting sound environmental policy
* Included healthy, local foods following the race

We continued our newspaper column and electronic newsletter:

The Park Place column launched in 2015 now appears bi-monthly in the Woodmen Edition. The focus of the column is to regularly provide information and photos about all things related to Ute Valley Park and the associated efforts of the Friends of Ute Valley Park.

Also, Friends of Ute Valley Park continue to receive a monthly email newsletter that highlights upcoming volunteer opportunities and other park news and events. Readers are welcome to submit story ideas for both the newspaper column and newsletter.

Big plans for 2017:


We’ll take a moment to celebrate this year’s accomplishments, but we can’t rest too long. We have big plans for 2017: We’ll finish the Ridge and East Loop trails, begin work on the Regional trail designated in the Master Plan, and repair erosion-damaged trails.

 
We’ll begin organized volunteer trail work in April. Watch for event notices on our Facebook page and in upcoming newsletters.
If you would like to hear a podcast I did for “Hiking Bob Falcone” about the history and work of the Friends of Ute Valley Park, here is the link: http://studio809radio.com/outdoors-with-hiking-bob-friends-of-ute-valley-park/

Here’s to another great year for Ute Valley Park!

 

Dan Woods
Friends of Ute Valley Park Board President

Ute Valley Park Volunteers Featured in Woodmen Edition

Volunteers kick off new season with trail work in Ute Valley Park

BY STEWART M. GREEN, Woodmen Edition

UVP 1A group of 15 volunteers stands behind a trailer filled with shovels, polaskis and trail-building tools at Ute Valley Park. Larry Kitt, the park ranger, tells the group: “It’s going to be an easy start for this trail-work year. I’m going to leave it to your crew leaders to give you a safety briefing, but I want to make sure that the top three things are done: safety, safety, fun!”

Trail leader Nick Cirincione, after dividing the volunteers into two groups, gives a quick safety talk. He ends by saying, “When you’re walking with the tools, they’re not over your shoulders like ‘Hi ho, it’s off to work we go,’ but you carry them in your hand below your waist. OK? Now let’s get to work.”
The group heads up the new trail, cutting vegetation, clearing brush, creating water bars, moving boulders and tamping down loose soil. A line of orange flags, placed by the ranger, marks the line of the trail, which makes a broad switchback up the hogback’s east slope before joining an existing social trail on the ridge crest.

“The trail we’re working on right now,” says Dan Woods, president of Friends of Ute Valley Park, “goes along the top of the hogback before dropping down and joining Pine Ridge Trail. We started this trail last year and will get it done this spring.”

Woods says the new trail, called West Ridge Trail, climbs gentle slopes onto the ridge, then heads north, with spacious views west toward Pikes Peak and east toward Austin Bluffs.

Ute Valley Park, a 540-acre city parkland, spreads east of the rocky hogback beneath the mountains on the northwest edge of Colorado Springs. The park, popular with hikers, mountain bikers and climbers, protects a foothills ecosystem of ponderosa pine and scrub oak woodlands, broad meadows and broken rock outcrops. The park’s most dramatic feature is Pope’s Bluffs, a long ridge formed of Dakota sandstone.

“It looks like we have a big group today,” said Woods earlier, looking across the parking lot on Vindicator Drive. “We usually have 10 to 15 volunteers, people of all ages, who show up to work on trail days.” The Friends group organizes trail days from April through October on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. “It’s not a huge investment of time for people,” said Woods, “since we work from 5:30 to about 7:30 in the evening.”

Friends of Ute Valley Park was founded in late 2012 to help facilitate the city of Colorado Springs’ purchase of 203 acres of property owned by Hewlett Packard east of the park. The city coveted the land, along with developers who had platted it for 169 homes and five commercial sites. Woods said, “Our homeowner’s association over in Pinecliff where I live heard about the possible sale. Our president went to the parks department and asked, ‘How can we help with the purchase of the property?’”

The Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department told the association “that it would be really nice if there was a Friends group who would take on the task of maintaining trails and making new trails in the existing park so that we could show that there was already some community ownership in the park.”

“Quite frankly,” said Woods, “if we hadn’t been in existence, it would have been a lot tougher to get the deal made. The $110,000 we raised was a piddly amount compared to the 7.5 million that was paid for the property, but it showed we had some skin in the game. People were pretty passionate about getting it into the park rather than have it developed.” The final transfer of the HP property to Ute Valley Park was in 2015, with the new acres managed as open space by the Palmer Land Trust. A master plan was also approved, outlining new trails in the open space and the rest of the park, creating trailheads at Tech Center Drive and off the HP road, and closing social trails. Friends of Ute Valley Park played a key role in implementing these management goals.

This year, the Friends group and its volunteers will complete the West Ridge Trail and then finish work on the East Loop Trail, which crosses the new acreage, ending at the Tech Center Drive trailhead. This work began in September with the aid of a $20,000 grant from REI, which allowed the city to hire contract trail builders to use heavy equipment on difficult terrain.

The group also plans to rehabilitate trails damaged by flooding. The Friends hosted only eight trail days last year, due to rainy weather, while the City allocated FEMA dollars to hire private contractors to repair damaged trails.

Last year, Woods said Friends of Ute Valley Park had 60 volunteers put in 185 hours on the bimonthly trail days and another 170 volunteers, including 75 Air Force cadets, on National Trails Day and National Public Lands Day.

After working for two hours, the sun drops behind the Rampart Range. Crew leader Cirincione says: “We should start gathering tools. Time to go.”

Another volunteer chimes in: “Party pooper.”

Cirincione replies: “No, the party pooper is the jobs that we all have, otherwise we could have been out here at 8 o’clock this morning having fun.”

To help build trails and maintain Ute Valley Park, volunteer your time by coming out on the first and third Wednesdays through the fall. Sign up on the Friends of Ute Valley Park Facebook page or email dan@friendsofutevalleypark.com .

2016 work season kicks off Wednesday, April 6

We’re kicking off our 2016 work season on Wednesday April 6 from 5:30-7:30pm. We’ll plan to have workdays every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 5:30-7:30pm until the Fall. For this first workday we’ll be picking up where we left off last work season with construction of the new trail on the flank of the Western ridge of the park. Come help us build some new trail! Tools provided, PLEASE wear close toed shoes.

Check the FUVP Facebook page to sign up to volunteer and learn about cancellations due to weather

Volunteer two hours and get a free Friends of Ute Valley Park T-shirt!!

Please keep dogs on a leash

Dogs must be kept on a leash in all Colorado Springs city parks and open spaces. The Humane Society has begun to patrol and issue citations for off leash dogs in Ute Valley Park.  Please be courteous to other park users and abide by park regulations to avoid getting a ticket.

2015 Highlights From the Board President

A Letter From the Board President
Dear Friends,
2015 was an amazing year with a long list of accomplishments for Ute Valley Park. It took many organizations and individuals to make it all happen: Parks and open space professionals, local businesses, board members and other volunteers. In 2015:

The Park Grew
The final phase of the transfer of the Hewlett Packard property has been accomplished. This formally added a total of 203 new acres of open space to Ute Valley Park. This makes the total park acreage to be 540 acres. This new open space is under a conservation easement managed by the Palmer Land Trust. No development of this acreage can now occur.

Master and maintenance plans were finalized
In March, the city approved the final 10 year master and maintenance plan for Ute Valley Park. This plan will dictate new trail additions as well as the closing of many of the social trails that have appeared in the park. Included in the plan is a new trail head off the HP access road and a new trail head off Tech Center Drive.

We received a $20,000 grant from REI
Last summer we were awarded a grant from REI amounting to $20,000. This grant money is being applied, along with TOPS funds, to establishing the new East Loop Trail.

New trails were added
In 2015, three new major trails were started, all of which were in the Master Plan.

The new, rerouted Scrub Oak Path trail is open in Ute Valley Park thanks to the efforts of Nick Valentine and the crew he organized for his Eagle Scout project. Working with the City of Colorado Springs, Valentine planned and cut a new route, realigning the previously eroded trail in the southwest part of the park. Then, Valentine and 18 other volunteers cleared trees, reinforced turns, and placed rocks on the more than 500 feet of new trail.

West Ridge Trail – A new trail along the East face of the Western ridge was started by volunteers and will be continued in Spring of 2016. This is a fantastic trail that will gain the Western ridge of the park and give unobstructed views to the East and West.

East Loop Trail – (See map below.) With the $20,000 grant from REI to jump start the project, the North side of the East Loop trail was started in September. The work done so far has been completed with a combination of volunteer work and contract trail builders using heavy equipment. The East Loop trail opens up the East side of the park to impressive overlooks into Ute Valley and will connect the park to the yet to be constructed trailhead on Tech Center Dr.

Volunteers repaired existing trails
Due to the wet and stormy 2015 work season, there were only 8 Wednesday evening work days lead by Friends of Ute Valley Park. A large number of those work evenings were spent replacing the decking on the boardwalk by the Vindicator Dr. trailhead. More than 60 people volunteered a total of more than 185 hours on first and third Wednesdays to help improve the park we all love.

Several storm damaged trails were repaired by contractors with FEMA dollars awarded to the city. This gave the park some much needed help with projects that volunteers didn’t have time to get to.

In addition to the regular Wednesday volunteers, more than 170 folks volunteered on special trail-building days:
* National Trails Day – 54 participants contributed 216 volunteer hours
* National Public Lands Day (USAFA) – 75 cadets contributed 320 hours
* National Public Lands Day (Public) – 45 participants contributed 180 hours

Ute Valley Park was the host site for a new trail running series
In 2015 the Blue Moon Trail Run in Ute Valley Park was expanded to a three-race series. An average of nearly 100 adults and kids ran in each race in June, July and August. In addition to raising $200 for Ute Valley Park, the race series:
* Provided an affordable event accessible to all abilities
* Had little to no physical impact on the park
* Minimized waste by promoting sound environmental policy
* Included healthy, local foods following the race

We started a newspaper column and electronic newsletter
In 2015 the Park Place column was launched and now appears bi-monthly in the Woodmen Edition. The focus of the column is to regularly provide information and photos about all things related to Ute Valley Park and the associated efforts of the Friends of Ute Valley Park.

Also new in 2015: Friends of Ute Valley Park now receive a monthly email newsletter that highlights upcoming volunteer opportunities and other park news and events. Readers are welcome to submit story ideas for both the newspaper column and newsletter.

We were named Friends Group of the Year
The Friends of Ute Valley Park were honored to be named the 2014 Friends Group of the year by the City Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department. This was awarded for. “our grassroots efforts in support of park expansion, maintenance and community awareness.”

Big plans for 2016
We’ll take a moment to celebrate this year’s accomplishments, but we can’t rest too long. We have big plans for 2016: We’ll finish the Ridge and East Loop trails, begin work on the Regional trail designated in the Master Plan, build the parking lot and trailhead on the east side and repair erosion-damaged trails.

Here’s to another great year for Ute Valley Park!

Dan Woods
Friends of Ute Valley Park Board President

August Park Place

April showers bring May flowers is a very familiar phrase. But to Ute Valley Park what about the May, June, and now July showers?  What all do they bring?  To date we can say flooding, erosion, lots of greenery, amazing wildflowers, and unfortunately noxious weeds. Yep, if you have been through UVP during this time you may have seen it all. Of course this comes from far more than what may normally be called a shower. Much of this rain came in torrential amounts, day after day, and many storms also loaded with hail. We know the concerns, impact, and risks related to drought conditions in our region that have made it popular to not root against the rain. But I am about ready to start.

south meadowDue to the significant number of rain events this year, in this space we have previously made the request to use your best judgment when using the park and trail system. We again would remind you to please heed any trail closures you encounter. It is always best to stay on the trails even if they are muddy to help preserve the adjacent land and natural resources. And another very good option is to consider staying away altogether immediately following these cloud bursts to give all preservation aspects of the park the best chance.

Ute Valley Park volunteer work days are the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month and run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Plan to meet in the Vindicator parking lot at 5:30. Volunteer and get a free water bottle and T-shirt! After 4 hours of volunteer work you’ll receive a Friends of Ute Valley Park logo t-shirt and water bottle.

Tools supplied. Dress appropriately (NO open toed shoes.) Bring your own work gloves, water, hat, sunscreen and snacks. In case of weather cancellation, announcement will be made on the Ute Valley Park Facebook page.

Upcoming events:

  • August 15, 9 a.m. Weed walk
  • August 19, 5:30 p.m.*Volunteer trail work.
  • August 28, 6 p.m. Blue Moon Trail Run

Noxious weeds are mentioned above as they now present a real concern in UVP. Some of them appear with flowering blossoms that outwardly add color and beauty to the property.  Their invasion disrupts the native vegetation, and is a constant risk to people, domestic animals, and wildlife.

The concern is such that there is a Weed Walk on the schedule for Saturday, August 15th  beginning at 9AM from the Vindicator parking lot.  The walk will be conducted by the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation, & Cultural. If you join in and learn how to identify these noxious invaders you become a first line of defense to help combat and eliminate them wherever they take root. The walk is expected to last about 2 hours.

Please get out and enjoy Ute Valley Park and remember there are several items identified here that you can do to help with the maintenance and preservation of our outdoor jewel.

 

Ute Valley Park Receives $20,000 Grant

June 12, 2015 — Friends of Ute Valley Park has received a $20,000 grant from REI to fund trail work. The park master plan, completed in February, identified the East Loop Trail (bottom-right in the map below) as a priority, and the REI grant will be used to complete the trail.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from REI,” said Dan Woods, Board President of Friends of Ute Valley Park. “Completing the East Loop Trail will improve access to this newly acquired, scenic portion of the park.”

The 538-acre Ute Valley Park is owned by the City of Colorado Springs and is located south of Vindicator Drive and Eagleview Middle School in northwest Colorado Springs.

The Friends of Ute Valley Park is a volunteer organization committed to the maintenance and preservation of Ute Valley Park in alignment with the goals and master plan of the City of Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department.  Volunteer trail work on various park projects is held 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month.

UVP Master Plan Map

National Trails Day Volunteer Work to Be Held at Ute Valley Park on June 6

National Trails Day Volunteer Work to Be Held at Ute Valley Park on June 6. Click on the Volunteer tab for details.

Nat Trails Day UVP

Friends Group of the Year!

Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services recently recognized the Friends of Ute Valley Park and the Incline Friends as the Friends Groups of the Year for 2014!  Each group had tremendous accomplishments in 2014 and Parks and Rec could not have succeeded in their progress on those properties without help from Friends.

Sarah Bryarly, Parks and Rec, acknowledged the Friends’ efforts at the Park Board meeting on Thursday, April 9. The Friends of Ute Valley Park group was recognized for their incredible fundraising and volunteer efforts to help expand the park and develop the park master and management plan. Board President Dan Woods accepted the award on behalf of all the Friends of Ute Valley Park.