Young crowd in Colorado Springs: City's outdoors opportunities a magnet

by megan wood The Gazette - Updated: September 2, 2013 at 7:55 am • Published: September 2, 2013 | 7:45 am 0

Trails, parks, open spaces, mountains - Colorado Springs offers plenty of opportunities to play outdoors, and many young professionals say that's one reason they're attracted to the area.

"Look, here's what we do well: We do sports really well here, we do nature, we do outdoors," said Jariah Walker, 36-year-old chairman of Leadership Now program of Leadership Pikes Peak.

Colorado Springs consistently ranks high in fitness and outdoors activities in publications and websites that compile "best of" lists, and the city is working to do more to improve its offerings.

Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services is heading up work on a Master Bike/Ped plan to create a more accessible city for nonmotorists and incorporate all existing bike plans. It also has a Parks Master Plan that includes proposals "to better aim parks towards young professionals," Parks, Recreation and Cultural services director Karen Palus said.

"You don't need to provide much more than the landscape. What we have is adjacent to an urban area, and you don't have that in a lot of places," said Tilah Larson, parks and recreation volunteer coordinator. "You can, in 8 minutes from downtown, get on world-class mountain biking trails."

Parks and recreation has one young professional on its advisory board and hopes to bring on more to hear from the younger crowd.

"The outdoors might seem overplayed, but it's really who we are," said Jon Severson, founder of Colorado Springs Young Professionals and avid mountain biker.

Unless Colorado Springs provides more job opportunities and amenities important to young professionals, it may not be enough to keep all but the most die-hard outdoor enthusiasts around.

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