Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

Colorado Springs residents opposed to a controversial land exchange between the city and the Broadmoor Hotel filed paperwork Tuesday morning aimed at amending the city's charter. The amendment would require voter approval for any future sale, trade, or transfer of city-owned parkland.

Jake Brownell / KRCC

A local group is suing the city of Colorado Springs to try and stop a controversial land exchange with the Broadmoor hotel. The deal, which was approved in May, would see the city trade a 189-acre section of Cheyenne Canyon known as Strawberry Fields for several parcels of land owned by the Broadmoor. 

Holly Pretsky

Starting today, June 20th, almost 300 libraries across the state will offer backpacks for checkout through a new program called "Check Out State Parks."

Holly Pretsky / KRCC

Open seats were scarce at Tuesday's Colorado Springs City Council meeting as community members crowded in to share their views for the last time before a planned vote on a controversial land swap. Council ultimately approved the deal.

Noel Black

On this weekend’s special episode of Wish We Were Here, we take a close look at all sides of the proposed Broadmoor land swap deal and the way that open space defines Colorado Springs as a city.

At the heart of deal lies a 189 acre undeveloped piece of parkland at the southwestern corner of the city called Strawberry Fields. It’s been the subject of more than a dozen public meetings, myriad news stories, a widely circulated petition, and a fierce debate on social media.

UPDATE: Colorado Springs City Council has voted 6-3 to approve the land swap with the Broadmoor. Stay tuned to KRCC in the coming days for more. 

Jake Brownell / KRCC

The city of Colorado Springs released its appraisals of the properties at issue in a proposed land exchange with the Broadmoor Hotel yesterday. This comes amidst mounting criticism over what some have described as a lack of transparency in the process.

Tucker Hampson / KRCC

Colorado Springs residents packed the gymnasium at Gold Camp Elementary School on Wednesday evening to discuss the controversial proposed land swap with the Broadmoor that would include Strawberry Hill. They came to hear about the property appraisals and to see the building plans for the Broadmoor stable and pavilion intended for the meadow at Strawberry Field.

Jake Brownell / KRCC

In January, the Colorado Springs Parks Department unveiled a plan to trade city land to the Broadmoor in exchange for several pieces of property owned by the hotel. Heralded by proponents as an opportunity to expand upon and enhance the city's park system, the plan has garnered criticism from residents who want the most significant parcel, known as Strawberry Hill, to remain in the public's hands.

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Governor John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday that the state will prioritize connecting and building 16 hiking and biking trails in all parts of Colorado. The goal is to connect and build missing trail segments to make it easier for people to access open space and parks.

It's part of the governor's Colorado the Beautiful initiative, unveiled in 2015.

Friday Newscast, 1/15/16, 7:04 AM

Jan 15, 2016

Newscast for Friday, January 15, 2016, 7:04 AM:

Colorado Springs

Voters overwhelmingly decided to allow Colorado Springs to retain $2.1 million in excess revenue to repair and improve eight stretches of trail throughout the city.

The targeted trails include Shooks Run, Skyline, and the Sand Creek Trails.

Karen Palus, head of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, said the improvements will include trail resurfacing and increased signage. Palus also said they’ll try to minimize the impacts to trail users.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Eight libraries across the state are piloting the 'Check-Out Colorado State Park' program. It makes passes to state parks available for check out, along with backpacks stocked with information and activities.

The program is part of the Governor’s initiative to motivate Coloradans to take advantage of the outdoors.

Matt Richmond / KRCC

The proposed 2016 budget for Colorado Springs is now headed to city council for markup. At a public hearing earlier this week, residents questioned a few of the mayor's priorities. The two biggest concerns were parks and transportation funding.

At Tuesday night's public hearing, 22 people attended. One group wore blue shirts to show their support for public transit funding.

In Mayor Suthers' proposed budget, there's an 815,000 dollar increase in funding for Mountain Metropolitan Transit.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Colorado is well known for its outdoor recreation offerings, but Governor John Hickenlooper wants to take it to the next level by making it even easier for people to access open space and parks. Over the summer he unveiled the Colorado the Beautiful Initiative and more recently a $100 million pledge to create and connect bike trails. 

Colorado Springs City Council gave preliminary approval to place two measures on November's ballot that would benefit roads and parks. 

Mayor John Suthers formally presented his proposals at Tuesday's council meeting, one of which will ask residents for a .62% sales tax increase for road repairs.  It would sunset in five years and generate around $50 million each year.

Critics say that money can be found in the existing budget, but Suthers says that's just not realistic.

Record-breaking rains leading to high water levels have prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restrict access in some recreational areas. 

Boat ramps, shoreline access points and parking areas are limited at Lake Pueblo State Park. The department isn’t sure when they’ll reopen.

Near Lake George, the South Platte River is running usually high, resulting in the closure of Spinney Mountain State Park’s river access lot. The department is discouraging fishing along many areas of the river.

The City of Colorado Springs is looking at the future of Shooks Run, a corridor located east of downtown between Fountain Creek and Patty Jewett Golf Course. 

The first of several public workshops takes place on Thursday, kicking off a 16-month collaborative planning process called Envision Shooks Run. 

The project will create a plan to address issues like drainage, multi-modal transportation, and urban planning to help improve infrastructure and enhance the corridor.

El Paso County is undergoing a master plan process to get public input for the new Falcon Regional Park. 

The 215-acre park site is east of the Meridian Ranch Development near Falcon High School. A survey is the next step in the planning process, and it asked residents which amenities, like picnic pavilions, baseball fields and trails are the most important to include.

Elaine Kleckner is the Planning Manager for El Paso County. She says the park is not only important to the community of Falcon, but the surrounding areas as well.

Voters in El Paso County are deciding whether or not to allow the county to keep excess revenue for the purpose of supporting parks and open space.

The Taxpayers Bill or Rights, or TABOR, stipulates any excess revenue should be returned to residents, unless voters approve a measure allowing the county to put it to other use.

Ballot issue 1A seeks to retain more than $2 million for specific projects including resurfacing tennis courts at Bear Creek Park, constructing a park in the Falcon area, and restoring trails in the Black Forest Regional Park. 

Colorado Springs

It’s only for two weekends before closing for the season, but the South Slope Recreation Area on Pikes Peak is now open to the public.  The watershed is home to bighorn sheep, cutthroat trout, and several reservoirs built more than a century ago.  It’s been closed to the public since 1913.

Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte says the ecological character of the place meant they had to tread lightly when considering opening the area to the public.

The city of Colorado Springs is accepting public comments on their new Park System Master Plan.  KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.

The plan looks to address the most important issues for the upcoming decade. The Executive Director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition is participating in the blueprint process, and TOSC Advocacy Director Bill Koerner says one of the issues in the draft is the need for more open space.

Parks Master Planning Underway in Colorado Springs

Apr 29, 2014
Michelle Mercer / KRCC

Approximately every ten years, Colorado Springs undertakes a Master Planning process for the parks system. As KRCC’s Michelle Mercer reports, this time around, the economic downturn and recent natural disasters are affecting the planning process.

Bear Creek-Cutthroat Trout Public Comment Period to End

Mar 26, 2014

The public comment period on a U.S. Forest Service proposal that could close or reroute several trails in the Pikes Peak region is drawing to a close tomorrow. KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.

Some trails in Bear Creek Park could be closed to help protect what the U.S. Forest Service calls the last known habitat of Colorado’s endangered native greenback cutthroat trout.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Senior Aquatic Biologist Doug Krieger says Bear Creek is home to between 500 and 700 greenback cutthroat trout that have adapted to this particular stream.