Red Rock Canyon Protected (CO)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Co, 10/28/03?- The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit land conservation organization, today announced that it had successfully completed the purchase of approximately 787 acres of open space and wildlife habitat in Colorado Springs from the Estate of John S. Bock. Located immediately west of Colorado Springs and south of the world famous Garden of the Gods, the property – called Red Rock Canyon – had been targeted for development for years. TPL will convey the property to the City of Colorado Springs later this year for permanent inclusion in the city’s growing trails, open space, and parks system.
The announcement came during a picnic celebration Saturday at the property, which will remain closed to the public until TPL completes conveyance of the property to the City and the City completes a management and use plan. In the interim, TPL and the Red Rock Canyon Committee, a group of citizen-advocates for the property, will sponsor private hikes on the tract every Saturday through Thanksgiving. Space on these hikes will be by reservation only, which interested people can make by calling the Trails and Open Space Coalition at 719-633-6884.
The purchase comes after two years of negotiations between TPL, representatives of Mr. Bock’s estate and the city, and completes what until now had been the City’s highest open space acquisition priority.
“I am so proud we are able, after all these years, to celebrate preservation of Red Rock Canyon. This property is an incredible addition to the city’s open space and parks system, and will contribute substantially to maintaining the high quality of life that makes Colorado Springs such a wonderful place to live, work, and raise families” said Vice-Mayor Richard Skorman.
Woody Beardsley, the TPL project manager who put the deal together, acknowledged the vital role of the seller. “If it were not for the commitment of Mrs. Joan Bock to seeing the property protected as open space, I guarantee this place would soon be covered by luxury homes and golf courses. Mrs. Bock gave TPL and the City a chance to protect the property. Had we failed, Mrs. Bock would have had no other option but to sell it for development.”
“Under ownership of the Bock family for over eighty years, this property played a colorful role as Colorado Springs grew up during the course of the 20th century. When the City takes title to the property from TPL in December, we’ll be writing a new chapter in the long relationship between this property and the greater Colorado Springs community,” said Vice-Mayor Skorman.
Located at the base of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak, Red Rock Canyon is a vital part of the scenic mountain backdrop to Colorado Springs. Its distinctive red sandstone monoliths and spires, balanced by white limestone and yellow-brown sandstone hogbacks, mark the transition between the plains and the mountains. Its location creates a natural separator between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, and also establishes the last link in a continuous corridor of parks, open space and national forest system lands stretching fourteen miles from west central Colorado Springs to the Pueblo County line.
“We’re overjoyed to see this critical link added to the growing number of protected properties that make up the Front Range Mountain Backdrop,” said Doug Robotham, Colorado Director of the Trust for Public Land. “This property long has been envisioned as a high priority for protection in the Colorado Springs Trails, Open Space and Parks Plan. That vision, initially the brainchild of few dedicated citizens, came to be embraced by many others over the years. Now, thanks to the hard work and leadership of the Colorado Springs City Council, city staff, the TOPS Working Committee, the Parks Advisory Board, the Red Rock Canyon Committee, and so many others, the vision is a reality.”
Tom Kay, who represented Mrs. Bock in the negotiations, said, “This was a complicated transaction with a landowner who has little faith in governmental entities. It is safe to say that the deal would have never come together without the involvement of the Trust for Public Land.”
TPL’s purchase of this land and pending conveyance to the City of Colorado Springs caps a multi-year partnership with city officials and citizen advocates to bring this land into public ownership. Once TPL transfers the deed to the city in December, the next step will be development of a management and use plan. “We look forward to working with the community to come up with a thoughtful long-term management and use plan,” said Terry Putman, manager of the City’s Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) program. “This planning process, which will start shortly after the City takes title, will provide the detail behind the overall goal of managing the property in its natural state as open space and wildlife habitat that is accessible to the public for passive recreational uses.”
“We are so pleased that Red Rock Canyon has finally been protected,” said Kent Obee, Chairman of the Trails, Open Space, and Parks (TOPS) Committee. “The TOPS Committee is most appreciative of the efforts of TPL, the leadership of City Council, and the hard work of city staff for following through on this vision for the citizens of Colorado Springs. But the countless hours of effort put into this protection project by everyday people – volunteers from throughout the community – should not be overlooked. This would not have happened were it not for their perseverance.”
Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. In Colorado, TPL has helped to protect almost 70,000 acres of land. Working with private landowners, community groups and public agencies, TPL has successfully completed over 100 transactions in the state. In the Colorado Springs area, TPL also has acquired the 320-acre Myron Stratton property (1998) and the 650-acre Big Johnson Property (2000). For more information, please visit www.tpl.org.