Friends workday brings Red Rock upgrades

       Rock climbers will have better access trails, and indigenous trees will have a better chance at survival in Red Rock Canyon Open Space, thanks to a workday July 29.
       More than 50 volunteers helped with the work, according to Karlee Thompson, president of the Friends of Red Rock Canyon Open Space, which planned the event with Colorado Springs Parks.
       Numerous Chinese and Siberian elms, big and small, were taken out of the upper reaches in the Sand Canyon part of the property, according to City Parks Development Manager Chris Lieber. This will give growth opportunities to the ponderosa pines, cottonwoods, scrub oak and mountain mahogany that have been overwhelmed by the rapidly spreading “volunteer elms,” as Lieber called them.
       “I'm a tree hugger,” Thompson said, “but I understand if they're left alone (over time) it won't be open space anymore, it will be a huge elm grove.”
       Rock climbers, who have laid out close to 100 routes up sandstone cliffs in a designated area of Red Rock Canyon, made up most of the workers for that phase of the July 29 project. Regular trails go near the cliffs, but climbers need access to their base, and some that have developed informally have not been as safe or drainage-conscious as others.
       Red Rock Canyon Open Space is a 788.1-acre property accessible off Highway 24 at Ridge Road and 31st Street.

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