Saturday, October 4, 2014

Area closed since 1913 opened, but already booked for this year

The day after the City of Colorado Springs announced the opening of the South Slope of Pikes Peak, all spaces had been reserved already for 2014. Nearly 9,000 acres, at elevation ranging from 10,500 to more than 12,000 feet, had been off limits to the public since 1913. The area was reopened for a few days in October but all permits have been reserved by Friday, and it will not reopen again until the summer of 2015, under similar restrictions.
Reservoirs that were opened to the public on limited basis Oct. 4, by permit only, were McReynolds, Mason and Boehmer, but strict rules applied and the area will be closed again for the season by Oct. 13.
Permits were obtained online, or by visiting the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, Administrative Office, 1401 Recreation Way; Monday-Friday; 8 am - 2 pm.
Permit reservations (in-person) had to be made by 1 p.m. the business day prior, or no less than 72 hours prior on the internet. The city only allowed a limited number of vehicles and users each day, to this secluded, high altitude recreation area, and was charging $15 per vehicle, up to eight persons per vehicle.  More than eight in a vehicle required an additional $15.
Funding for the project, which took nearly seven years to put together, came from the following sources:
 • The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife provided $200,000 through Fishing is Fun program.
• Colorado State Trails provided $200,000 through Non-Motorized Trail Grant program.
• City of colorado Springs TOPS Program provided $400,000 for site improvements.
• Colorado Springs Utilities provided $400,000 for master planning ans design efforts.
• Trails and Open Space Coalition assisted the the Parks Department with leading the guided hikes, to provide the public access to the south Slope of Pikes Peak Recreational Area prior to official opening.
• Friends of the Peak assisted the Parks Department with leading the volunteer projects to construct McReynold Trail and portions of the Mason Trail.
• Copestone General Contractors and Timberline Landscaping contractors constructed the site improvements.
When the area reopens next summer, with the expected date near Memorial Day, the following restrictions will apply.

Fishing and lake rules:
• Fishing allowed only on Mason and McReynolds Reservoirs and only with artificial lures and flies.
• Mason Reservoir bag, possession and size limit for trout is 1, 16” or less.
• McReynolds Reservoir trout fishing is catch and release only; fish must be returned immediately to the water.
• A Colorado fishing license is required for age 16 or older. Children under the age of 16 do not need a fishing license.
• For more information contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife (719) 227-5200.
• Only non-motorized boats are allowed and they must be propelled by oars or paddles. Gas or electric engines are prohibited. No contact with water is permitted. Activities such as swimming, wading, sail boating and wind surfing are prohibited.
• Boating only allowed at McReynolds Reservoir. (No boating on Mason Reservoir)
• State boating regulations apply.
• Boats must be carried from the parking lot to the boat entry points. Vehicle access to boat entry points is not available.
• Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices must be worn by all boaters while on water.
• Belly boats may be used.

Recreation area general rules:
•  Consumption of alcoholic beverages is not allowed.
• No smoking except in designated areas.
• The area provides a pristine environment with an abundance of wildlife and scenic beauty. Please be considerate of other area users.
• Protect the wildlife in the area. Do not feed, chase, capture, harm or otherwise disturb native wildlife.
• Sorry... no dogs will be allowed.
• Fireworks are not allowed.
• Natural features must not be disturbed. Please do not deface or remove any of the area’s plants, rocks or trees.
• Gathering firewood is not allowed.
• Open fires are prohibited. Only charcoal briquettes, liquid fuel or propane with shut-offs are allowed in or on permanent mounted grills. Please do not use portable grills in back of vehicles or at shoreline. Place on picnic tables or permanent mounted grills.
• Stay on designated trails. Trampling of the vegetation in this sub-alpine ecosystem can cause soil erosion and recovery can take many years.
• Motor vehicles are restricted to designated roads and parking lots. Parking along roadways is not allowed.
• Parking or fishing from the dam is prohibited.

Driving directions:
• From I-25 and Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, travel west on Highway 24 to Highway 67 in Divide, approximately 25.5 miles.
• In Divide, turn left onto Highway 67 south.
• Continue 13.5 miles south and turn left onto Teller County Road 81.
• Continue on CR 81 for 3 miles; turn left on Teller County Road 8 (Gold Camp Road).
• Continue on Gold Camp Road for 7.5 miles to Forest Service Road 376, approximately 0.7 miles east of the old railroad tunnel.
• Turn left onto Forest Service Road #376; continue 3.2 miles to the entrance gate of the South Slope Recreation Area.

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