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

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