CONSERVATION NEWS

Hwy. 115 Quarry

April, 2018: The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety has recommended approval of Transit Mix Concrete’s application.

The Mined Land Reclamation Board (MLRB) will hold formal hearings on Wednesday, April 25, and Thursday, April 26, at 9am, at the Hotel Elegante in southern Colorado Springs. Anyone may attend, although if you didn’t attend the April 9 meeting, you will not be considered a party to the lawsuit, and therefore will not be allowed to speak. Please consider attending in any case—having a large number of attendees should help the opposition.

Should the MLRB approve the permit, it would then go to the El Paso County Board of Commissioners for approval.

October, 2017: Transit Mix Concrete reapplied (on October 5) for a permit to quarry on the Hitch Rack Ranch. The ranch is adjacent to Aiken Canyon Preserve, which is managed by The Nature Conservancy. Changes in this application include decreasing the acreage from 400 to 200, and placing the quarry only on the south side of Little Turkey Creek Rd. The expected lifetime of the quarry has been decreased from 55 to 30 years. Transit Mix would build a road solely for truck traffic, though Little Turkey Creek Rd would still be closed any time that blasting occurs. There will be a 48-day public comment period, then about a 3-month review process before a decision is made by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. Aiken Audubon took a stand against this project the first time around. Once all the information is in, we’ll decide whether comments are warranted.

Aiken Audubon has taken a position opposing the quarry.

Centennial Extension through Sondermann Park

Drainage work and grading between Fillmore and Van Buren has been completed. Paving, sealing existing pavement, and restriping work are planned for May 2018. Then the Voluntary Cleanup Plan of an undocumented trash site will begin, and is due to be completed by summer 2019. Work on the next phase will begin in 2019.

Colorado Springs’ Tree Removal Projects

Beginning in mid-January of 2017, 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

Mitigation work is finally wrapping up at Pinello, which included removing Russian olives, tamarisk and some small cottonwoods, and creating almost ten acres of wetlands in three separate sites. This is expected to enhance wildlife habitat and vegetation diversity on the property. This project was done to mitigate wetlands disturbance along the Southern Delivery System southeast of Marksheffel and Bradley Roads. It should take about 3 to 5 years to fill in completely. Meanwhile, birding at Pinello, which is a Colorado Springs Utility property, is limited to a few outings per season. See the Current Field Trip page for any 2018 trips. (There are none scheduled at the moment, although several guided trips to neighboring Venetucci Farm are available.)

More Hot Topics

  • Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has initiated a formal comment period as part of a process to weaken or eliminate landmark conservation plans that are helping to ensure the survival of the Greater Sage-Grouse. (Learn more…)

  • Protect the Arctic Refuge

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge still urgently needs your help, even through the bill opening it to oil and gas exploration has passed. We must continue to spread the message that this iconic American treasure, which is home to 200 species of birds, should not be opened to exploration. (Learn more…)

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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