How spoiled are we?

Each time Colorado Springs is recognized as the best of something, I groan and think, “Great, now more people will come here!”

I was not happy to learn recently that in addition to the Springs being a top destination for millennials and possessing the No. 2 attraction in the country (and ninth in the world) with Garden of the Gods, it’s considered the best city in Colorado for dog-walking.

On a more serious note, the city does deserve an award for something few notice: the quantity and quality of Friends Groups. This time of year, we hear of their accomplishments over the past 12 months and upcoming plans.

These all-volunteer groups are nothing short of amazing. Friends of Ute Valley Park and Guardians of Palmer Park consistently host some of the most productive volunteer work days in the region. Friends of Garden of the Gods annually donate thousands of dollars to accomplish important trail work and assist hundreds of thousands of visitors at the Visitor Center. Friends of Cheyenne Canon are tackling great trail projects to improve their park. Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers rack up hundreds of volunteer hours working with kids and families. Incline Friends just installed an informational kiosk and soon will add benches. Friends of Monument Valley Park have raised thousands of dollars to restore the historic park walls. Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park assist with fire mitigation projects, have installed a water station for visitors to fill their bottles and host an annual race that puts thousands of dollars back into their park.

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No other region in Colorado has as many Friends groups. Only two cities — Philadelphia and San Francisco — in the U.S. boast more Friends Groups. These are your neighbors with a connection to a local park or open space who freely give up their time, getting work done unlikely to be accomplished any other way.

Most of these groups are aging and could use fresh ideas, muscle and support. Maybe it’s your turn to donate a few hours each month. We can get you connected with the right group.

In the meantime, I’ll stop grumbling about all these honors the city receives, remembering that some of the accolades are a result of the Friends Groups’ efforts.

Susan Davies is executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

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