Don’t be alarmed by the noise and activity in Red Rock Canyon! Work is beginning in November to reduce the fire fuels and help to restore the natural forests in Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The two areas to be worked on will be the Sand Canyon area next to Crystal Hills in Manitou Springs, some 70 plus acres, and a smaller area off Gold Camp Road by the Section 16 Trailhead, close to 4 acres. The work will serve as basic fire mitigation. Cutting will be done mostly to the area’s non-native Siberian elms and scrub oaks. This will help to reduce the risk of wildfires, as well as restore the natural vegetation being crowded out by the elm and oak brush. Cutting back the dense growth of elms and scrub oaks will help to make way for willows, cottonwoods and ponderosa pines, all of which are considered to be a more natural forest for the area. The scrub oaks are considered to be a “perfect” fuel for wildfires as well.
The forest restoration work had been identified within the new Red Rock Canyon Master and Management Plan as being a high priority for the ecological health of the open space. The City of Colorado Springs emphasizes, “that as we improve the environmental health of the site, we will also significantly help to reduce the risk of wildfire within Red Rock Canyon and the surrounding neighborhoods”.
The mitigation work will take place over a period of 28 weeks, lasting well into May next year. The work will be performed by a crew from the Mile High Youth Corps with supervision by the City of Colorado Springs Forestry Division. Most visitors to Red Rock Canyon will not be affected by the ongoing fire mitigation, as much of the work is off the established trails. Though the sound of chainsaws may be of some concern, the work should not detour any hikers.
If you have questions or concerns about the mitigation, you can contact the City Forestry Division directly at: Dennis Will at 385-5942 or Jeffery Webb (Sr Grants & Design Analyst) email@example.com .
The Mile High Youth Corps employs young people to help with conservation projects around the state. Those working with Mile High Youth Corps learn organization and leadership skills, and are exposed to educational opportunities while working on projects. They will spend 10% to 20% of their work week attending workshops and educational sessions. Not only do the young people learn important job skills and receive a healthy stipend for their work, but they will receive a scholarship to help pay for college after their work is completed.
The Mile High Youth Corps offer these safety guidelines on “How Can You Help?”:
- Stay out of the mitigation area!
- Stay away from working crews!
- Stay away from the chipper!
- Keep pets on leash!
- Obey signs, stay on trails.
- Don’t bring your own slash.
The Mile High Youth Corp would be interested if you could offer to teach a topic or skill to their crew this winter. If you can, please contact Nancy at 630-7421 or at firstname.lastname@example.org . They ask that the information regarding availability of work is shared with young people (18-24).