Is there any doubt that residents of the Pikes Peak region are attracted to water?
Just spend time along Palmer Lake — the highest natural spring-fed lake in the continental U.S., according to the town’s website. On one recent summer weekend, I counted more than 50 kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards (SUP). More than 25 people were fishing along the shoreline. That’s quite a crowd for a 26-acre lake.
Prospect Lake in Memorial Park is more than twice as large, and it also gets crowded on weekends. Rampart Reservoir and North Slope Recreation area are equally popular for fishing and limited boating.
As the area’s population grows and tourism increases, more people will be seeking out water for recreation.
Segments of Fountain Creek between Colorado Springs and Pueblo are ripe for limited recreational development. Imagine extending the Front Range Trail along the creek and providing access to water for kayaks, SUPs and inner-tubes. All it takes is willing landowners and dollars to develop and manage it.
The Southern Delivery System project had plans to eventually build a second reservoir. Both reservoirs would be used for storage, but they also could provide recreational opportunities for anglers, boaters and swimmers.
The Gary Bostrom Reservoir is projected to be 146.5 acres along East Bradley Road. Bostrom, an employee of Colorado Springs Utilities, worked on the SDS and greatly contributed to its success. After he retired, he was a highly valued member of the Colorado Springs Parks Advisory Board. Active outdoors, he lived life well but left us too soon.
Bostrom understood the value of water in all its many uses: life-giving, commercial and for recreation. A community with limited access to water cannot grow. When residents have access to water, it improves a community’s quality of life.
Palmer Lake is charming for many reasons. It offers access to great trails and excellent ice cream. But the lake sets it apart from most other Front Range communities.
A 146-acre reservoir on the city’s east side will be an amazing asset for our region. Especially for residents living where trails are few and recreational water is scarce.
Unfortunately, plans to build the reservoir have been delayed by 10 years due to changes in demand and other priorities, according to Utilities. The new time frame pushes construction back from the mid 2020s to the mid 2030s.
I say we find a way to move that date up, or find new opportunities to connect residents and visitors to water. It’ll make this world-class city that much better.