CONSERVATION NEWS

Colorado Springs’ Tree Removal Projects
Beginning in mid-January, the city of Colorado Springs began cutting swaths of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and scrub oak in Stratton Open Space as part of a fire-mitigation plan. Fearful that the city foresters might not be aware of potential owls and other raptors nesting in the area, Aiken contacted them about their project. To the city’s credit, they altered their plans to clear out an area near a Cooper’s Hawk nest before nesting season began. Additionally, they hope to wrap up the project by the end of March, which will avoid disturbance of most nesting avifauna. It’s upsetting, however, that the foresters didn’t seek input from anyone in the birding community.

Steve Getty and Aiken Conservation Chair Linda Hodges have spent a good deal of time on the property, and are concerned about the vast amount of understory that is being removed, as well as a plan to dramatically clear a birdy riparian area along the Stratton Springs Path. Many of you wrote to the forester, asking that a greater portion of the understory be kept intact. It remains to be seen if the city will comply.

The project will continue in parts of Austin Bluffs Open Space and Bear Creek Canyon. If any of you are aware of owl/raptor nests on those properties, please let Linda know.

mccrae-reservoir-001Widefield Community Park Master Plan
In the recent draft master plan, recommended action items include the installation of a seasonal floating wildlife observation platform on McCrae Reservoir, and improvements to the tunnel leading to the reservoir under Fontaine Boulevard. It will likely be five to ten years before funding allows implementation.

Big Johnson Reservoir
Wondering what’s happening to Big Johnson Reservoir? Here’s what we know…

Pinello Ranch Wetlands Mitigation
Colorado Springs Utilities is beginning construction of the Pinello Ranch Wetlands Mitigation project to create approximately 9.8 acres of wetlands in three sites occupying approximately 11.5 acres. While the construction phase will result in temporary impacts, establishing these wetlands will enhance wildlife habitat and vegetation diversity for the long term. Construction work on the wetlands has just begun and is expected to be complete in September 2017.

Quarry Appeal
Alas, the decision to deny the opening of a quarry off Hwy. 115 and adjacent to Aiken  Canyon, hasn’t stopped Transit Mix Concrete (TMC). After recently asking for a reconsideration of the decision, TMC has now withdrawn that petition, and will submit a new application. We’ll keep you posted.

Endangered Species Act
The Aiken Audubon board recently agreed to sign on to a letter by The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to the Western Governors Association (WGA). The CBD opposes the WGA’s policy resolution and recommendations, which the CBD felt would significantly weaken the Endangered Species Act. Audubon Colorado Council signed on to the letter on behalf of

Colorado’s Audubon chapters.

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Aiken Conservation Team

Would you like to get more involved in local/regional issues? If so, please contact Conservation Chair Linda Hodges at hikerhodges@gmail.com and join our activist team. You choose what level of involvement you’d like:  from doing research, to writing legislators to simply receiving occasional updates. Let your voice be heard!

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