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Navigators organization, owner of Glen Eyrie, quietly does its part to deter, control Camp Creek flooding

In a view down from Mesa Road May 10, after about a week of rain, the Navigators' channel work can be seen, with Camp Creek flowing at a steady rate into the city sedimentation pond just south of the boundary between the Garden of the Gods and Glen Eyrie. Heavy equipment vehicles (right), which the city uses to dig out the pond, are parked on Navigators property, by agreement with the organization.
Westside Pioneer photo
       It's well known - and some of this was evident during the recent rainy spell - that the City of Colorado Springs has taken steps to improve the Camp Creek drainage since the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire wiped out hillside vegetation and increased the chances of flooding.
       A basin has been dug to catch sediment at the north end of the Garden of the Gods, repairs have been made to the concrete ditch through Pleasant Valley and an in-depth study has narrowed down plans for even bigger improvements between the Garden and Fountain Creek.
       But in the meantime, there's been little fanfare for a private property upstream from the Garden that's been taking pricey mitigation steps of its own. That group is the Navigators, a nonprofit Christian organization which over half a century ago purchased the 800-acre Glen Eyrie property off North 30th Street, including the castle that Colorado
Derek Strickler, director of operations for the Navigators, summarizes its Camp Creek improvements during an early-April public information meeting organized by local government entities inside the Great Hall of the castle at Glen Eyrie.
Westside Pioneer photo
Springs founder William Palmer called home.
       As previously reported in the Westside Pioneer, Navigator contributions to flood control a half-year after the fire featured a pair of 21-foot-high, metal “debris nets” to catch rocks and dead trees that might hurtle down in a flood. Both span Queen's Canyon, through which Camp Creek flows. One net is a short distance above the castle, the other about a quarter-mile farther up the canyon.
       Interestingly, even though nearly all the debris coming down Camp Creek is from the Waldo burn area - which is mostly on U.S. Forest Service land upstream from Glen Eyrie - no such nets have been built in those federal areas of the drainage.
       The Navigators' nets, built in early 2013, cost the organization about $1 million. Additional drainage work since then has raised the total to about $3.5 million, according to an estimate this spring by Derek Strickler, the Navigators director of operations.
       As he explained it, the nonprofit decided to expand its work scope after high waters later in 2013 filled the bottom of the property with sediment and blocked much of the creek flow. “That was the catalyst,” he said. "We decided, 'We've got to do something with the channel.' Our first priority is to protect the castle and buildings.”
       The solution required redoing the entire Camp Creek drainage
During initial construction in early 2013, a contracted crew works on the gabion baskets used to support a utility road next to the lower debris net across Queen's Canyon. The road allows heavy equipment to drive to the area behind the net to clear it out, as needed.
Westside Pioneer file photo
through Navigator property. Contracted crews deepened and widened the channel, which roughly quadrupled the pre-fire flow capacity, and after that, it was armored with rocks, Strickler said. Also, because of the widening, all the property's creek bridges had to be replaced.
       Another Navigators contribution to Camp Creek flood mitigation involves the Garden of the Gods sediment pond, which the city installed a year ago just south of Glen Eyrie. In September 2013, before the pond went in, the sediment affected the Garden as well as the castle property, additionally spreading dirt over several acres in the city park. The Navigators organization provided access through its property to city contractors
A widened, deepened and armored segment of the Camp Creek channel through Glen Eyrie is seen in this view looking down from the castle.
Westside Pioneer photo
during the pond's construction and continues to do so for city vehicles that come in periodically to clean the pond out.
       The nonprofit also plays a pivotal role in Camp Creek's ongoing flood warning system. Its Eagle Camp facility, which is regularly staffed, is eight miles upstream, where Camp Creek begins in a mountainous area that the Waldo fire ravaged. So if there's heavy precipitation around Eagle Lake, ample notice can be provided to the town below. “It can take 90 minutes for that water to get down here,” Strickler pointed out.
       The Navigators' flood-control tab has been covered by private donors, responding to a “huge” fundraising effort, Strickler explained. The nonprofit is not looking for credit, he added. “We just do our best to be stewards of the property.”
       However, he conceded, “It's been been an expensive few years to own the property.”
       An indication of the Navigators' mitigation-work anonymity can be seen in a news article on area flood control in a recent issue of the daily Gazette, which mentions the Glen Eyrie debris net and includes two photos of a visiting Colorado senator walking beside the lower one - but does not state how it got there.
       Even if such contributions are not well known to the public, they're obviously no secret to the city. “The efforts the Navigators have done are huge,” commented Tim Mitros, city stormwater manager, “especially the debris nets.”
       After Glen Eyrie, Camp Creek goes through the Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch, before being directed into a concrete-lined channel through the Pleasant Valley neighborhood and then an underground culvert before finally pouring into Fountain Creek.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 5/10/15, updated 5/13/15; Community Ongoing Issues)

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