Lottery money approved to fund flood repairs to parks, Incline and Ute Valley Park expansion

December 12, 2013 Updated: December 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm
photo - An area alongside North Cheyenne Canon Road, Wednesday, September 18, 2013, where flood waters have undercut a portion of the road. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
An area alongside North Cheyenne Canon Road, Wednesday, September 18, 2013, where flood waters have undercut a portion of the road. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

Repairs to the Manitou Incline and the expansion of Ute Valley Park are among the outdoors projects that will receive lottery funds from Great Outdoors Colorado.

The organization's board this week approved just over $1 million for Ute Valley Park, which will be used to complete the acquisition of former Hewlett-Packard land bought by the Colorado Springs Trails, Open Space and Parks program for $6.4 million. The nonprofit Trust for Public Land has been holding title to 110 of the 203 acres of the land, and the grant will allow the city to complete the purchase.

"We've just been thrilled that this whole project has been happening and we're so grateful to the Trust for Public Land and the TOPS program for allowing us to go ahead with the purchase," said Dan Woods, president of the Friends of Ute Valley Park.

The HP land had been used for years by park users, many unaware they were trespassing.

The other major grant awarded in the Pikes Peak region was $350,000 to the city of Colorado Springs for the Incline. The popular trail, which runs steeply up a mountainside on a former tourist train route, was legalized this year after decades of illicit use.

Sandy Yukman with the Incline Friends group said the heavy rains in September caused damage to the steep upper section of the trail, which was already in bad shape from a lack of maintenance. The group has raised $60,000 of $200,000 it will contribute to the project.

Yukman said she was told it was the highest-rated project in the state by GOCO officials.

"We've worked for years to have the perfect application to actually attract GOCO to the project and we're so excited it was the top-rated project in the state," she said.

The group and the city are awaiting word on a state trails grant to fund the rest of the work, which she said will likely be done in September. She said it will not change the look or difficulty of the trail.

The GOCO board also approved $5 million to repair parks and open spaces around the state damaged by flooding, including Red Rock Canyon Open Space, North Cheyenne Canon park, Garden of the Gods, Rainbow Falls Recreation Area, Fountain Creek Regional Trail and Fountain Creek Open Space. Black Forest Regional Park, damaged by this summer's wildfire, will also be included.

Many parks and trails, including all of Cheyenne Canon, remain closed because of the floods.

"The state has done an excellent job of quickly repairing damaged roads and infrastructure and finding new housing for those who were displaced," said GOCO executive director Lise Aangeenbrug. "But these communities have told us they will not be made completely whole until their parks, trails and open spaces that people use daily or weekly are restored as well.

Communities can apply for these grants starting next week.

Other projects that will be funded by this round of grants include fire fuels mitigation on 20.5 acres an .65 miles of new trail on Iron Mountain in Manitou Springs and fuels mitigation on the Broken Wagon Ranch, a private ranch near Divide in Teller County.

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