COLORADO SPRINGS — Kayaking, tubing, even fishing could soon be part of the outdoor fun along creeks in Colorado Springs.
The Fountain Creek Watershed Vision and Implementation Plan wants to create an area where people can enjoy the creek, float in the water and enjoy other recreational activities.
“We’re taking a diamond in the rough and we’re going to polish that diamond. And when you invest in your waterways, you invest in your city’s economy. People love to work, play and be near water. And I think we can enhance that opportunity,” Executive Director of The Greenway Foundation Jeff Shoemaker said.
The Greenway Foundation is an organization based in Denver that focuses on revitalizing Colorado’s rivers and waterways. They’re the group behind the transformation of the South Platte River from a virtual cesspool to a place of environmental and recreational pride. TGF helped to construct more than 100 miles of hiking and biking trails and improved the health of the South Platte River Watershed and its habitats.
“The South Platte River was truly an ecologically dead body of water. That is certainly not the case with Fountain Creek but it has some accessibility challenges and those can be easily addressed,” said Shoemaker.
The project starts at Popcycle Bridge just outside Monument Valley Park. From there, it extends 7 miles south flowing through Monument and Fountain Creeks.
The project looks into improving water quality and making sure the ecosystem supports native fish and birds.
“All of this work really starts with a healthy creek, a healthy ecosystem. We can improve on what we have today whether it be removing invasive species that are along the corridor and replacing those with riparian habitat,” said Chris Lieber with NES Inc.
NES Inc. is based in Colorado Springs and focuses on sustainable landscape architectural projects. They’re also behind this effort to turn the Fountain Creek corridor into a great space where people can gather and enjoy the outdoors.
Lieber says, “Between the edge of the creek and the edge of where development happens, matters.”
Planners are exploring ways to better control flooding, erosion and stormwater management, while developing along the watershed. The plan starts with a healthy creeks and flows into creating sustainable future development along the creek.
“You think about South Platte River in Denver and Pueblo with the Riverwalk. Both projects created great spaces for people to both enjoy the creek and they served as a catalyst for how those areas redevelop along the creek, but they’re also great places to recreate,” said Lieber.
They’re also looking into areas near the creek that can tie into this ongoing project. The announcement about the Fountain Creek Watershed project came in January. Planners say they are about a month into the 12-month project.
“There’s now the decommissioning of the Drake Power Plant and that will ultimately redevelop and the uses will change in that area. Our role in the Drake Power Plant is to look at that interface between where the creek and future development might come together,” said Lieber.
They will be looking for community feedback on ideas for this project this Spring and Summer.
The project is funded by Lyda Hill Philanthropies.