Beidleman urges continued protection of area open space

       Long-time educator, naturalist and outdoor advocate Dr. Richard Beidleman encouraged attendees at the Garden's Visitor & Nature Center June 19 to be vigilant in protecting the area's natural resources.

Dr. Richard Beidleman meets members of the audience after his Garden of the Gods Visitor Center talk.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “Even if places have been designated [as protected], we have to fight to retain them,” said Beidleman, who has lived in California for the past 15 years but often comes back to the Springs on visits.
       He gave a roughly hour-long slide presentation to an audience of close to 100 people who filled the Visitor Center's theater.
       Now a professor emeritus at Colorado College, Beidleman was a leader in the 1960s effort by the citizens' group, Springs Area Beautiful (SPABA), that prevented Rock Ledge Ranch from being subdivided as part of Pleasant Valley. The ranch area, which became part of the Garden of the Gods, is now a city-owned living history site.
       Chuckling at the memory, Beidleman said in his talk that SPABA even got a $100 donation from famous pilot Charles Lindbergh, who explained that “he used to fly over it when he was delivering the mail.”
       Beidleman is the namesake of the center with his name in Sondermann Park, which opened as a city-operated public nature center in 1987. But the city had to close it for budgetary reasons about six years ago, and the center is now leased by a private firm, the Catamount Foundation. Asked about this change, Beidleman said he was OK with it, because even if public programs are no longer extensively offered, the center itself still exists and he likes Catamount's environmental philosophy.
       He added that he is “impressed” in general with the efforts of Colorado Springs and its conservation groups since he moved away. “The trails look good, the parks look good. Against a great wall of opposition (growth), you've done an excellent job.”
       Melissa Walker, who was a naturalist with the city for many years (including at the Garden of the Gods), introduced Beidleman in the context of this being the 100- year anniversary of the Perkins family giving the property to the city. With that in mind “Dr. Beidleman was on the top of our list” for speakers, she said.

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