(COLORADO SPRINGS) – If you live in Colorado Springs, you may have seen bighorn sheep climbing the mountains and roaming around the Garden of the Gods. But now, the fate of this species in that area could lie in a re-zoning decision to be made by the city’s Planning Commission.
On Wednesday, Feb. 8, a vote by the Colorado Springs City Planning Commission will decide the future of who gets to live on 2424 Garden of the Gods Road.
“You know they’re one step away from being on the endangered list. Why would you take a chance of putting a high-density development and having these sheep abandon the area, or die off from disease, or from the stress of this situation?” said John Mclain, a representative from the action committee opposing the 2424 development.
Known for their massive curved horns and impressive climbing skills, the bighorn sheep can be most commonly seen around the Garden of the Gods. Mclain, who lives near 2424 Garden of the Gods, says he sees the bighorn sheep quite often.
“We have pictures of them [the bighorn sheep] crossing the road, going back over to the 2424 property,” said Mclain.
People in the area say that while they might be creating homes, the city is also pushing the sheep out of their home.
“The bighorn sheep are going to flee the area and probably abandon the area,” said Mclain.
Tourists from around the world come to see the bighorn sheep.
“A man from England said he brings his family here… He flies into the Denver airport, rents a car, and comes down here every single year, so he can see the Garden of the Gods and the bighorn sheep. And he said, ‘why would I come down to Colorado Springs if all I’m going to look at, are big apartment buildings,” Mclain said.
The city’s planning developer says they have already coordinated with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).
“And they [CPW] indicated that there should be no impacts with the development of the property in question with respect to the sheep herd,” said Daniel Sexton, Colorado Springs Planning Supervisor.
The proposed rezoning includes single-family and townhomes in Area B and apartments in Area C. Area D is where the developer is looking to dedicate open space, “largely where most residents have identified seeing the sheep herd,” said Sexton.
Despite the allotment of open space, people say the apartments will be just 600 feet away from where the sheep have been seen, and are wondering, is it worth it?
“Do we want to give up a small portion of land in Colorado Springs to protect the bighorn sheep? Or do we want to put market-rate housing in here?” said Mclain.
Mclain and others who oppose the developments will be presenting an analysis of the land at the Colorado Springs City Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday. If the city’s planning commission votes to approve the rezoning applications, the process will take over two years before people can move into those complexes.