(COLORADO SPRINGS) — To help ensure the safety of Colorado Springs trails and trail users, the city plans to hire four additional park rangers.
“We’re looking to add four additional urban park rangers to our group of rangers that we have already,” said Eric Becker, Acting Parks Maintenance and Operations Manager. “These are going to be a little bit different rangers than we ordinarily staff.”
These rangers will have enforcement capabilities to ensure the trails are safe for public use.
“The enforcement capability to be able to enforce some of the safety things that we really look to, whether it’s loitering or camping or littering,” stated Becker. “And again, just to make our trail users feel safer.”
City Council Member for District 3, Stephanie Fortune, said she received a call from a man who felt hopeless because he could not use the trail as he didn’t feel safe. When she met with him, there were other community members to also voiced their concerns.
“There are 35 people there standing by the trail and I’m like, oh, this must not be the meeting because I’m just meeting with this man,” said Fortune. “Come to find out, 35 people felt so strongly in the middle of the day. They agreed to attend this meeting with me and they toured me all around.”
These concerns motivated Fortune to improve the trail.
“From there that’s where this idea came up, where I met with the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, and I said, ‘we’ve got to do something,'” said Fortune. “Isn’t there another entity that could do something to keep people safe, to help people take back the trails and to use this beautiful place.”
The solution arose to add additional park rangers to help improve the safety of Colorado Springs trails.
“I couldn’t be more delighted because that is city government working at its best,” said Fortune. “When people work with the Mayor, City Administration and City Council, and something great happens.”
The new rangers will be working in pairs to help each other when needed and will first be patrolling the downtown trails.
“It could be patrolling main corridors along the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail and the Midland Corridor trail that’s kind of the emphasis to begin with and it could evolve into other trails around the city,” said Becker.
A goal of the rangers is to help those experiencing homelessness who are on the trail.
“I think the park rangers will be a service to them and will have compassion towards them,” said Fortune.
The next steps to add these new park rangers will take place in the budget meeting in November.
“We’re going to have the first reading of the budget here in November, that’s the first step to getting these rangers approved,” said Becker. “So once that’s done, there’ll be a second reading in December, once council approves that second reading, and then we can go right into implementation starting in January.”