Speaking Out Against Stables in Bear Creek Park...

In case anyone is still not aware, the Broadmoor has purchased a plot of land off Hercules Drive, adjacent to East Bear Creek Park. This plot of land is on the southern edge of the park, with the entrance in the middle of the large hill on Cresta. Currently, that plot of land is zoned residential as the original plan was to build several condo buildings there. However, the Broadmoor wants to run commercial horseback rides from that land, with the goal of providing the true "western experience" to their guests. As such, they want the land down-zoned to agriculture so that they can build stables for 20 or more horses.  The Broadmoor envisions twice daily rides through Bear Creek Regional Park and beyond, stating that they want to be able to take clients through the National Forest up into the Jones Park area. The El Paso County Parks has already agreed to provide the Broadmoor with a 20 year permit for the commercial enterprise.  With permit in hand, the next step is to convince the city to allow for the down-zoning. And after that? Look at the trail conditions in the Garden of the Gods where the guided horseback rides occur and imagine that throughout the entirety of Bear Creek Park, into Red Rock Canyon, the Palmer-16 Loop and trail 666. Imagine not being able to run, hike or ride in or through Bear Creek Park without encountering a string of poorly trained horses in the hands of unskilled riders on constantly degrading trail surfaces. We as park users and tax payers need to speak out and convey to the City and County that this is not an appropriate use of our regional park.

How? Be heard - email city planning, the county commissioners and the Broadmoor expressing our opinions. Here are the email addresses for the parties involved:

Mike Schultz - Colorado Springs City Planning; mdschultz@springsgov.com

Sallie Clark - El Paso County Commissioner, District 3 (where Bear Creek Park is located): SallieClark@elpasoco.com

Tim Wolken - El Paso County Executive Director of Community Services (parks):TimWolken@elpasoco.com

Terry McHale - Broadmoor liaison for building stables: tmchale@broadmoor.com

Tom Schmidt - Broadmoor Community liaison: tschmidt@broadmoor.com

Here are some points to use and rephrase in any letter sent out. If you have any other points that would be helpful in letters, please leave them in the comments below so I can add them and others can utilize.

1) Allowing extensive commercial use of such popular and busy park is a safety risk for all users. The Bear Creek Regional Trail is a main thruway for hikers, runners, cyclists, and individual horse riders from Penrose Stables, and is heavily used through the day for both recreation and commuting. Adding unskilled riders, unfamiliar with horsemanship and poorly trained horses for commercial rides into an already populated and limited trail system will lead to increased user conflict and high potential for injury. The Broadmoor also envisions longer rides through other trail systems, including properties that have been purchased through the TOPS taxes and as such prohibit commercial uses.

 2) Allowing such extensive commercial use of our Regional Trails sends the message that the parks are for sale to the highest bidder. Bear Creek is already host to many events such as the CHSAA Cross Country State Championships, numerous other running events and cycling events . How will commercial trail rides that do not require special permitting affect other users who have paid for the appropriate permits and how will the county ensure that the Broadmoor respects those permits? A standing permit of this nature appears to violate the county's own guidelines for issuing commercial permits as stated through detracting from the enjoyment and interfering with the use of other, as well as interfering with the preservation of the park.

 3)Allowing this volume of horse traffic onto trail systems that are not designed for such use will lead to extensive and irreparable resource damage. The trails currently in use at the Garden of the Gods (which limits commercial rides to specific trails) are heavily damaged, with the natural soil degraded to deep sand which limits the ability of any other trail users to enjoy the trails safely. The amount of money that the Broadmoor will be "donating" to the county fund - $1500 per month - will not begin to pay for the repair and mitigation of damage caused by commercial horse use. There is also no guarantee that the money will be utilized for trail stewardship.
 
4)This  proposal will increased traffic on Cresta Drive, overburdening an already congested road that is the major entrance and exit from the Skyway area. There are three schools on Cresta between the Broadmoor and the proposed stable location. Cresta is frequently used by cyclists commuting and training as well and there are numerous blind intersections. The proposed stable location is situated on a hill, with a blind intersection just above. The number of horses proposed by the Broadmoor will lead to an increase in large truck traffic for hay deliveries, as well as trailers attempting to turn in and out of the driveway. Cresta at that location is not designed for heavy truck use, nor is there room for vehicles of that size to make turns safety without significant impact on traffic patterns.

Comments

  1. Totally agree. We are also against Cheyenne Mt. State Park opening some of the trails to horses. We were there about 6 weeks ago and learned of this new change. The horses are allowed on the east portion of Sundance and can go up and down the Talons. Unfortunately, we saw several groups on some of the trails NOT open to horses. The ranger was busy and not happy having to chase down all of the horse riders to redirect them. I love horses. I showed quarter horses for 12 years growing up. But there are proper places for them and other places that are not suitable - Bear Creek and CMSP being two not suitable. Both places are just accidents/conflicts between users waiting to happen. The Talons at CMSP will be a nightmare if a runner or mt biker comes up behind or in front of a group of horses. The trails are just not conducive to bikers, runners, and hikers sharing with horses. Plus, Sundance was completely demolished from the horse traffic riding through the mud. It was so bad I am not sure the trails can be repaired. It was like a herd of elephants had tromped through. All of the hard work of paid as well as volunteer workers to build the trails seemed completely destroyed. Sad. The powers that be are not using good judgement in regard to either location.

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    1. You aren't the first to mention the issues at CMPS, from the extensive trail damage on approved trails to the equestrian use off approved trails. I haven't ridden Talon since the horses were allowed in and chances are that I won't. The risk is just too high on that trail for coming around a blind corner, either uphill or downhill, of something happening. Which is sad, because it's a good hard climb and the loops are fun. We need to make sure this doesn't happen at Bear Creek so we don't see a public park being turned into the playground for a commercial stables with unlimited use. The only way that we can be sure is to make our opposition heard to both the city and the county.

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    2. First of all-Bear Creek Regional Park is zoned for horseback riding whether you like it or not.I plan to ride my horse there
      and he is well trained by the way. Bikers(not motorized) runners and hikers are welcome and horses are NOT a problem.
      The people that think that ARE the problem.Who is to say they are not well trained. I have seen inconsiderate
      bikers,runners and hikers/runners as well
      .Most horseback riders are safe and considerate in my experience and I have been riding more than 40 years.

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    3. Wallace, thank you for your comments. I know that Bear Creek is zoned for horses and see the horses from Penrose Stables out all the time. The Penrose Stables have been there for as long as I can remember - and I am a native of Colorado Springs. I am not and have not advocated that the horses at Penrose and surrounding areas be barred from using Bear Creek Park. That is and will remain an appropriate use of the park resources.
      And yes - there are inconsiderate users in all groups. That is not the point here.

      It is the commercial use of the regional park by a private entity that is the issue at hand, as well as the city and county handling the permitting and other processes to allow the Broadmoor to utilize an already very heavily trafficked park for nearly unlimited, daily rides. The current plan is calling for the yet to be constructed Broadmoor Stables to be operating from 7:00 am to 11:00 PM, offering rides for large groups throughout that time. As an equestrian user of Bear Creek Park, how would you like to be down there riding and be constantly encountering riders on unfamiliar animals with questionable skills? Does that sound like it is a benefit to you and all other trail users in the park?

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