Open-space purchase of Section 16 finalized

       The Section 16 property above the Westside officially became part of Colorado Springs open space parcel Dec. 7.
       The 640-acre hillside property is pristine, except for some past mining and in recent years some trail construction. Area open space advocates sought its purchase for recreational purposes and to protect a highly visible portion of the area's mountain backdrop. Adjacent are the city's Red Rock Canyon and White Acres open space properties, as well as the county's Bear Creek Park and Pike National Forest.
       The $3.8 million purchase (plus $320,000 to prevent mineral-right development for 99 years) was funded mainly through the city's Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) program, with particular aid from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), a state agency that uses lottery funds to help preserve outdoor amenities. GOCO gave TOPS a $1 million grant for the purchase and before that had provided the city $200,000 to fund its Section 16 lease for the past five years. Other funding help came from El Paso County ($200,000), Manitou Springs ($10,000), Trails and Open Space Coalition ($2,500), and the Intemann Trail Committee ($1,000).
       In addition, the Palmer Land Trust raised $40,000 to put the property under conservation easement and preserve it as open space in perpetuity.
       Section 16 has been leased for public open space use since 1972. It has been a target for purchase by the city since the TOPS open-space tax was first approved by voters in 1997.
       For now at least, the city foresees no major changes in the property. The one access with parking is the Section 16 trailhead off Gold Camp Road, about a half-mile southwest of the intersection with 26th Street, Lower Gold Camp Road and Bear Creek Road.
       The main trails are the Palmer/Red Rock Loop and the Intemann Trail, which also has a link into Red Rock Canyon. Trail maintenance by the volunteer Intemann and Colorado Mountain Club groups is expected to continue.

Westside Pioneer/press release