LETTERS

Letter from Kirk Johnson, Ph.D, Chief Curator & Vice President of Research & Collections, Denver Museum of Nature & Science (pdf file)

12/31/07 County plans would disturb rugged canyon by Norman Bishop

12/31/07 Park another example of county wasting funds by Frederic Herman

April 28, 2008

Mr. Tim Wolken, Director
El Paso County Parks and Leisure
Services Department
2002 Creek Crossing
Colorado Springs, CO 80906

I am Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History (UCM) in Boulder. I understand that Corral Bluffs in El Paso County is being considered for development. I have searched for fossils in the Corral Bluffs area, and I know it well. I would like to take this opportunity to let you know part of Colorado's rich history preserved in the rocks at Corral Bluffs, and why this area is so special to paleontologists and other scientists. My research background and expertise is in Late Cretaceous (Lancian) and early Paleogene (Paleocene and Eocene) fossil mammals, and I have spent over a decade conducting paleontological field research in the Denver Basin. Geographically-speaking, the Denver Basin stretches from Colorado Springs to Greeley and from the Front Range to Limon. Many of the rock exposures that we see at Corral Bluffs are part of what we call the Denver Formation, which has been the focus of my research for several years. These rocks in Corral Bluffs span the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary (65.5 million years b.p.), which marks one of the most important evolutionary events in the history of life - dinosaurs go extinct and soon after, mammals rapidly diversify and become larger. Very few places in the world preserve this explosive evolution of mammals wherein the roots of most modern mammalian groups were born. The Denver Basin, in particular Corral Bluffs, is one such place.

The Corral Bluffs area has been an important area for fossil discovery for over a century. The first dinosaurs and fossil leaves were discovered in the late 1800s (e.g., Emmons et al., 1896; Knowlton, 1896). Fossil mammal discoveries at Corral Bluffs date back to 1939, when the first Paleocene mammals (who lived around 65 million years ago) were discovered there and at South Table Mountain (Gazin,1941). In the late 1970s and 1980s, paleontologists from the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History (UCM) discovered many more fossil mammals in the Corral Bluffs area (e.g., Middleton, 1983). More recent fieldwork in the late 1990s associated with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's “Denver Basin Project” resulted in additional significant discoveries of fossil mammals and an alligator skull from the Corral Bluffs area. The mammal fossils include pristine jaws and teeth of some of the earliest Paleocene mammals known in the world. Not only is this area rich with fossils, they are exquisitely preserved, a rare combination indeed in the world of paleontology! Understanding what happened amongst mammals following dinosaur extinction at the K-T boundary is critical to understanding the origins of modern mammals, including ourselves. Much of our knowledge of this important time comes from the fossil record in the Denver Basin, especially Corral Bluffs.

Although the Denver Basin is among the top areas for preserving earliest Tertiary mammals, it is important to note that these mammals (no matter where you look in the world) are rare. Despite their rarity however, the importance to science of these fossil mammals cannot be underestimated. Due to the fragile nature of the fossils, human activities such as motorized vehicles driving over them will undoubtedly be destructive. If not collected properly and conserved, these fossils will be lost from scientific research and education. Given its natural beauty, unique fossils, and proximity to Colorado Springs, Corral Bluffs seems an ideal setting for educating students of all ages about the amazing prehistory of this region. Places like Corral Bluffs draw world attention to Colorado. I hope that any land use plans for Corral Bluffs will take into consideration the importance of this area as a world-class paleontological resource and opportunity for educating future generations of Coloradans.

If you have any questions concerning fossil mammal research in the Corral Bluffs area (or elsewhere in the Denver Basin), feel free to contact me.

Jaelyn Eberle
Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology
University of Colorado Museum of Natural History (UCM) at Boulder

                                                                                               

28 April 2008 

Mr. Tim Wolken, Director
El Paso County Parks and Leisure Services Department
2002 Creek Crossing
Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Re: Corral Bluffs 

Dear Mr. Wolken: 

            I am the emeritus curator of Geological Collections at the University of Colorado Museum, Boulder. I understand that El Paso County is considering the use of a portion of the Corral Bluffs area for a motor cycle recreation area. This area is important to the scientific community as being one of the first areas where the Cretaceous (age of dinosaurs) and Tertiary (age of mammals) boundary could be shown on the ground. The area is a good one for scientific reasons because both plants and animals of the two ages occur in the Jimmy Camp Creek/Corral Bluffs section. The area is also one of the few which is readily accessible to the general public for educational purposes. 

            During the 1970’s 80’s I supervised field work in the Corral Bluffs area which became part of a doctoral dissertation of one of our students. The Corral Bluffs faunal sample is the only good record of that mammal age (early Paleocene; Puercan 2, in geologic terms) in Colorado. 

            Whatever else motorcycle traffic will do to an area may be debatable, but it will certainly destroy the surface of the track route and anything resting on it. Therefore whatever fossils are there will be destroyed. One can collect what is visible at the moment, but the next heavy rain may erode more of the outcrop and expose more fossil material. 

Fossils of this kind are always rare; fossil localities in a situation where they record the recovery from a major catastrophe (the end Cretaceous event; extinction of the dinosaurs) are rarer yet. The Denver Basin has few good fossil vertebrate localities. Corral Bluffs is one of the best and should be recognized as such, and hopefully preserved.

Yours truly,
Peter Robinson
Curator Emeritus
University of Colorado Museum

Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2008
To: Trails@state.co.us
Subject: OHV Grant #31


Dear State Trails Committee,

We are writing in reference to the grant proposal to build a OHV trail in the Corral Bluffs area east of Colorado Springs. My family and I have been avid trail users in this area, and contiguous states for the past 40 years. We have occasionally met OHR users, and face-to-face encounters generally have been fine. Most bikers were courteous and conscientious. We have also been forced off the trail, had to endure the sound of unmuffled bikes, and seen the extreme damage done by bikers. I am also a board member of several land preservation and open space groups. Initially, I was prepared to have an open mind and concede that bikers do need a place to "play", and that Corral Bluffs might be a suitable site for this activity.

However, recently we have had an opportunity to tour and hike the site, have talked with adjacent land owners, seen the fragility of the ecosystem, and enjoyed it's stunning topography. As am ecologist and community member, I no longer feel that the Corral Bluffs OHV proposal should be granted for the following reasons:

1. Commissioner Bensberg who is pushing his agenda for an OHN park, has classified this area as "a wasteland". It is anything but. It is a beautiful parcel, with major cliff bands, arroyos, and very fragile vegetation, very unusual on the plains. Making an OHV trail here would be very damaging to this ecosystem--it would be a sacrificial site--and the land damage would be very difficult to heal. I suspect that most of those on both the County Commissioners Board and the El Paso County Park Board who voted in favor of the proposal have not even had the opportunity to visit the site, and believed Bensberg when he said that it was a wasteland.

2. During my visit to the site, I had the opportunity to talk to many adjacent landowners who only found out about the proposal when it was discussed in the local newspaper. They were furious that they had been given no prior notice, for this will definitely affect the quality of both their lifestyle and the value of their property.

3. Not only is the stunning topography of Corral Bluffs an anomely on the plains, it has well-documented finds of geologic, historical, paleontological, and archeological significance.

4. Given El Paso County's history of dire financial conditions, and lack of planning to address mitigation of certain environmental degradation by OHV use, I can only envision that this site would soon become like many of those trails closed by both the Forest Service and BLM to OHV users all over the west. One has only to look at the Captain Jack's trail west of Colorado Springs to see what the future of this site holds.

5. Commissioner Bensberg claims to have a petition signed by over 1000 supporters of this proposal. I now consider this to have been a "stealth" effort, and am sure that had the non-motorized use proponents been given equal notice, that they would have weighed in negatively on this in substantial numbers. This has the potential to become a very divisive issue, and I suspect that both the Commissioners and County Park's staff were aware of this.

6. I am very uncomfortable with the proposed partnership with Aztec Family Raceway, somewhat like asking the fox to guard the henhouse, while making a profit doing it.

In conclusion, we are no longer taking a middle ground view. We oppose the funding of OHV grant proposal #31 for the Corral Bluffs site.

Sincerely,
Linda and Dave Overlin

Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2008

Subject: Corral Bluffs
To: trails@state.co.us

I am a Contract Archaeologist and sending this email regarding potential cultural resource impacts that might require mitigation with any acquisition of Corral Bluffs acreage. The area, especially the neighboring Jimmy Camp has significant cultural resources. Cultural resources in the area include previously collected diagnostic artifacts (projectile points and ceramics), a reported Buffalo jump, historic structures, and sources of Black Forest petrified wood.

Any funding considerations should include Cultural Resources impact analysis requiring at a minimum a pedestrian survey, site recordation, and mitigation. Native American consultation should also be considered. I am certain that the state will pursue all environmental and cultural resources analysis associated with this action.

Steve Snyder

                                                           

December 22, 2007 

Colorado State Parks
State Trails Program
13787 South Highway 85
Littleton, CO  80125 

Dear Sir, Ms: 

I am writing as a concerned citizen of El Paso County to request that you submit to a full committee review OHV Grant Application #31 and the proposal to turn Corral Bluffs into a motorcycle park.  The area is a legacy landform with distinctive and beautiful geographical features and it has the advantage of being located on the eastside entryway to Colorado Springs, where open space is increasingly at a premium.  It is very clear to me, as I think it would be to most who took the time to familiarize themselves with the area, that Corral Bluffs has significant open space values worthy of preservation. 

Indeed Corral Bluffs has been aptly described as “the last hurrah of the Rocky Mountains.”  It provides welcome topographical relief, not to mention diversity of native habitats, to complement the eastern plains that stretch beyond it – flat as an ancient seabed to the horizon.  The proposed dirt bike park would not only negatively impact these ancient landforms, it would also be very disruptive to abutting family owned ranches.  Furthermore, it would effectively deny access to an extensive piece of open space to the future resident of nearby Banning Lewis Ranch.  A burgeoning development, Banning Lewis Ranch, is expected in the near future to house an estimated 175,000 new residents to Colorado Springs. 

While it is true that land near Corral Bluffs has already been despoiled by a landfill and mortorcycle park, it is nonetheless far enough from these already existing blights to be unaffected by them in any important sense, whether visually or from noise pollution. And two blights, doesn’t justify another or make it right. 

In addition, the foothills, arroyos, rock outcroppings and bluffs are the repositories of some uniquely Western history – ranging from the early presence of Arapaho (arrowheads and other artifacts have been discovered in the area) to having been used as a round-up for longhorn cattle drives to Denver. One of the bluffs may even have served as a buffalo jump and geologists have noted the presence of Iridium in one of the bluffs, one of three or four spots on Earth where this rare element is present from the massive comet that once hit the Yucatan.  The site, in short, has both significant conservation and  educational value. (As a former educator and the parent of now-adult children, these assets I consider to be highly worthy of consideration for preservation.) 

Furthermore, and not coincidentally, the site had long been on El Paso County’s original open space masterplan. 

The proposal thus to turn Corral Bluffs into a park for off-road motorized vehicles came as a surprise.  Indeed, it blindsided most concerned citizens, local landholders and even the City TOPS committee.  It was, just for starters, monumentally deficient in public process. In point of fact, there was no public process.  Local farmers and landowners whose property would be negatively impacted by the plan were never even notified.  One citizen at the TOPS meeting described it as a “stealth process,” another observer referred to it as “dirty pool,” and suggested that the plan appeared to him to be exclusive rather than inclusive and, furthermore, that it did not represent the “highest and best use of the land.”  

Young families move to our town because they hope to enjoy the beauty of Colorado and benefit from a healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle.  Most would prefer not to raise a generation of obesity-afflicted couch potatoes and screenagers.  Fortunately, there are now several new parks in Colorado Springs.  This is in no small measure due to the efforts of a small band of pro-active citizens and committed volunteers, not to mention our excellent City Parks Department.  However, there is next to nothing for the soon- to-be burgeoning communities to the east of us.  Saving Corral Bluffs as open space could help address this obvious need. 

As a concerned citizen myself I would like to make it clear that I will in no way benefit personally from Coral Bluffs being turned into an open space.  Nor do I have friends or relations in the area.  My concern is simply to see a larger number of people of all ages benefit from the use of the open space, both educationally and recreationally.  I also worry about the inherently destructive nature of off-road vehicles.  Given the conservation values of Corral Bluffs, including its wildlife habitat, and in view of its historic interest and topographical appeal, not to mention its being a world-class site of potentially rich paleontological research and finds, my question is as follows:  Isn’t there someplace better and more suitable that could be found for the motorcycle hobbyists? 

Moreover, I am concerned about the lack of public process.  I sense there is at work here a more flagrant and fundamental violation of fundamental ethics (added to the fact that there is apparently no viable business plan to back up the proposal).  Democratic grass roots processes have been subverted in a fashion that reminds me of third-world countries (where my husband and I lived for many years).  In any society, no matter how developed, this sort of thing can prove to be, over the long run, every bit as corrosive as the spinning tires of off-road vehicles on fragile terrain. 

Once again, I wish to respectfully request that you and your committee subject the proposal to convert this legacy land of Corral Bluffs into a paid-for-use motorized vehicle park to a full review.   

Thank you for your time and consideration and for your attention to this letter.  

Sincerely,
Ruth Obee

From: Paul Tice
Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2008 1:05 PM
To: trails@state.co.us
Subject: Comment on Proposed El Paso County Off-Highway Vehicle Park Grant Application

To Whom it May Concern:


I wish to voice my objection to the approval of the El Paso County grant application for the off-highway vehicle (OHV) park proposal. My objection is based upon the following concerns:

1. Environmental Impact – the site proposed for this OHV park consist of terrain that is extremely steep and consist of highly erodible soils. The operation of off-road vehicles on this type of terrain will result in significant adverse impact to this already fragile environment.

2. Adverse Land Use Compatibility – the site proposed for the OHV park is immediately adjacent to the 24,000 acre Banning-Lewis Ranch (BLR) Master Planned Community that is located within the corporate limits of Colorado Springs and currently undergoing urban level development. The approved BLR Master Plan calls for the construction of high end low density housing and an elementary school along the eastern border of the BLR immediately adjacent to the proposed OHV facility. The noise created by the OHV proposal will have adverse impacts upon both of these already approved future land uses.

3. Appropriate Future Land Use – I have read that part of the justification for the new OHV park is it’s proximity to the existing Aztec Motorcycle Riding Facility. However, I would also have to question the future appropriateness of the Aztec facility as this area of Colorado Springs and El Paso County continue to urbanize with the development of the BLR and the extension of urban water and wastewater infrastructure into this vicinity. It seems to me that the Aztec facility as well as many of the other industrial type uses in the Highway 94 corridor will redevelop into more ecomonically appropriate land uses as these urban services become available. Neither the Aztec facility , nor the proposed OHV park will be compatible with the future land use changes in this area.

4. Transportation Corridor Impact – the Major Thoroughfare Plans for both the City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County call for the construction of a new arterial roadway that is to parallel CO Highway 94 starting at Marksheffel Road and exiting the BLR development at the south boundary of the proposed OHV park. This facility is planned to then turn south and connect to CO Highway 94 aligning with the existing Franceville Coal Mine Rd./ Highway 94 intersection. This arterial roadway will allow traffic generated by the BLR Master Plan to be channel appropriately back into Highway 94 and is critical to the overall transportation network in this area. It appears that the northern half of the right of way for this new arterial roadway will need to come from the proposed OHV park site with the southern half coming from the BLR development. The use of state funds to purchase and develop the OHV park may jeopardize the ability to construct this important future arterial corridor.

My objections to funding a grant for the proposed OHV park are based upon environmental and long range planning concerns and not due to any objections to the use of dirtbikes and ATV’s as a recreational choice. In fact I grew up riding dirtbikes and recently took an all-day 50 mile dirt bike ride into the Wheller Geologic Area riding on Forrest Service trails and roads. Over the past 15 years I have also been a frequent user of the the 717 trail network in the Pike National Forrest as a horse rider, mountain biker and hiker and have no problem with the off-road vehicle use of this extensive multi-use trail network. If a OHV facilty is needed in El Paso County it needs to be constructed on a site with fewer environmental and land use compatibilty issues.

Thank you in advance for consideration of my comments.

Paul R. Tice II, AICP
Land Planning & Development Services, Inc.

Don’t put taxpayers at risk for liability claims

The Corral Bluffs motorbike park plan sounds to me like an expansion of the existing Aztec Raceway, which is a private, forprofit venture. Why would the taxpayers want to subsidize this project for $570,000, while losing property tax dollars and accepting the liability?

Aztec’s current Web site has waiver forms — meaning it isn’t accepting liability for its operations now. I can hardly imagine them indemnifying the county... and the county has much deeper pockets. Its seems like a bad deal for taxpayers.

With the recent county government office closures and the lack of funds to maintain the parks that we have, I think we should be encouraging Aztec to expand operations at its own expense. Any expansion by Aztec would bring in more tax dollars.

Diane D. Whitley
Calhan

Dear State Trails Committee:

As the closing time for comments nears, I wish to share a few closing thoughts. As I have mentioned previously, I served on the State Trails Committee from 1995-1997 and as such have a great deal of respect for the Trails program and Colorado State Parks.

Because of the highly controversial nature of this ill advised and ill planned program and the likely litigation that would ensue with funding, I strongly recommend that you reject this proposal. The reputation of the State Trails program and State Parks is at stake!

I have attached a topo map with a plat map overlay. Please note Wolf and Aztec properties on south side of map. El Paso County would have to get easements from Katram to the east and Waste Management to the north of Katram to gain access to the Case property to the north. The Case property is what the grant money would go for. These easements have not been secured to date.

The obvious access thru Bishop is blocked by his opposition which was forwarded to you in a Letter to the Editor from the Gazette. Unfortunately, that linked copy is not in the comment file.

Further I would note that no topo map was provided to either Parks Board or El Paso County commissioners. Only one of the county commissioners and none of the Parks Board members had seen the site upon voting. The topo shows several "Walls of China" in this very steep and fragile environment. If trails could somehow be built they would only serve the expert class motorcyclists.

One problem I am aware of with the comment period is that no links are opened by State Parks staff and sent to reviewing committees. I have sent numerous articles as links from several local newspapers. Mr. Howard J. Kunstle went to State Trails offices and picked up the comments and none of the news articles are included. How can this oversight be rectified?

In speaking with El Paso County Parks Board, several of the members feel that they voted in November 2007 only to submit the grant to you and did not give approval for the $550,000 of matching money. Also, they did not feel that they had even approved the concept of a County OHV park. Thus, one could argue that while submittal of the grant has been approved, the certainty of the matching funds are not.

There are buffer sites adjacent to Fort Carson that would be perfect for this activity. Noise would not be an issue because of the proximity of Interstate 25 and the military base. There are no neighbors. And the terrain is rugged as desired by many motorcyclists.

In summary, I urge you to send El Paso County back to the drawing boards by rejecting their grant proposal. The good name of State Parks and Trails are at stake. If somehow, the OHV Subcommittee does approve this grant we ask that the State Trails Committee give a full review of the proposal and reject sending it on to the State Parks Board.

Respectfully yours.
Lee Milner

Officials go out of way to conceal plans

The headline over The Gazette’s Sunday story on the proposed motorcycle park at Corral Bluffs, “Opinions are crux of debate” didn’t do justice to the concerns highlighted in the article. As it detailed, and as one online commenter noted, the matter has been “partially snuck through and partially rammed through.” In fact, supporters seem to have gone to extraordinary efforts to exclude anyone who might be anything less than a whole-hearted supporter of their plans.

To give just the most egregious example, County Commissioner Jim Bensberg is quoted as saying that nearby landowners were deliberately not notified of plans for the motorcycle park “to avoid a bidding war.” This explanation is pure nonsense, since the county is seeking to buy the land directly, and not at auction. Rather, the plain purpose of not contacting the neighbors was to keep the most directly concerned citizens and the most vocal potential project opponents in the dark.

Unfortunately, this process is all too typical of how county governments work. The “crux of the debate” ought to be whether it is proper for county officials to let a plan of this magnitude get so far with so much secrecy and so little public participation. This is a matter of concern for every voter in El Paso County.

James E. Lockhart
Conservation Chair
Pikes Peak Sierra Club Group
Colorado Springs



El Paso County Commissioners don’t honor constituents’ desires

The El Paso County commissioners have approved a noisy, environmentally unfriendly project that will lower the quality of life for nearby property owners (the motorcycle park). They have done so without consulting or gaining the approval of the county residents most affected and, in some cases, not even informing residents of the project. So what else is new?

This comes as no surprise to anyone who lives near the recently approved-forexpansion Sokol gravel pit or the auto race track at the fairgrounds, shaking houses in the once quiet neighborhoods of Calhan.

None of the commissioners would vote for these projects if they were going into the commissioners’ own neighborhoods. This hypocrisy demonstrates that the current commissioners seem incapable of fairly representing all county residents.

Glenn Dayley
Calhan

As a resident of Corral Valley for 18 years I am opposed to the proposed OHV dirt bike track. This is why.

We moved to the country to escape the noise, pollution, crime and traffic of the city. Now the city wants to move out here.

The sad fact is, years ago this historic valley should have been protected and preserved by the elected officials into a state park with its fossils, wildlife, and delicate sandstone formations.

We have enjoyed and protected the coyotes, deer, antelope, fox, badgers, porcupines and eagles that live out this way. Another dirt bike track will displace the wildlife that has already been displaced by the massive suburban growth east of Marksheffel, leaving them vulnerable to mankind.

I am sure there are other available properties south of Colorado Springs that could be purchased for less money, with fewer disgruntled residents, and far less damage to the delicate ecology.

I and others urge you to purchase another property better suited for your purposes.

Sincerely,

Peggy Haynes

Proposal has too many things working against it

El Paso County is planning to purchase land to build a motorcycle park and to spend more than $500,000 in county money to develop it at Corral Bluffs, a very scenic area about six miles east of Colorado Springs. Corral Bluffs was identified as a possible purchase for the county park system about six years ago and could be a large connecting extension for existing land in the park system.

County officials dance around saying they studied other possible areas for location of the park but can’t seem to say what they did or what other places they considered.

The county seemingly has obligated itself to Aztec Raceway and the land purchase without public comment. If this is county procedure, it should be changed to avoid sweetheart deals. There may be a presumption that Aztec could operate a motorcycle park less expensively than an organization that would have to build facilities, but operations should be put out for bid.

Although El Paso County applied for a $320,000 grant to the state board which oversees distribution of OHV license fees, the board only gave the county $20,000 for further study.

OHV fees are collected from all OHV owners, but the park is to be only for those with two wheels.

Corral Bluffs has been identified as one of 20 important world geologic sites which also has important prehistory artifacts and Indian artifacts.

There should be an OHV park somewhere for all OHV people, but not at Corral Bluffs.

Charles Donachy
Colorado Springs

Nearby residents would pay highest price for park

I’m not opposed to a motorcycle park, but Corral Bluffs is not the place for one. I just can’t believe bike trails throughout the old rock formations would not destroy them. They are too beautiful to destroy.

The people who ride these vehicles do not drive them in their back yards; why should the people with homes in the bluffs area have bikes riding practically up to their doors, and be subject to the noise and dust?

The people who live in this area were not asked their opinion when this project was originally voted on.

Robert P. Wozny
Peyton

Letter to the Editor of The New Falcon Herald:

No to the motorbike park

As a Falcon homeowner close to Corral Bluffs, I am concerned about the lack of public process and short-sightedness of county officials who favor Corral Bluffs as a 522-acre motorbike park. This is an issue that will affect all county residents for years to come.

What were commissioners thinking last summer when they gave staff the green light to apply for a $328,000 grant from the state to partially fund a $1.5 million motorbike park? This ill-thought-out proposal will benefit relatively few county residents and have the longevity of five to 15 years.

County officials have the unique opportunity to develop a regional park to serve as a legacy for generations to come. Indeed, they are obliged to be responsible public stewards of our tax dollars and the public planning process. The Banning Lewis Ranch development will serve about 179,000 residents by 2025. The city and county have already documented the need for a regional park of open space that would include Jimmy Camp Creek/Reservoir Park. Why are they favoring the special interests of a small OHV users group and disregarding the open space needs of the greater community?

The El Paso County Parks Master Plan -- developed in 1997 and updated in 2005-calls for protection of Corral Bluffs because it is geologically unique, environmentally sensitive, and rich with important wildlife, and archeological information yet to be discovered, and documented.

Residents are justifiably miffed that they were not invited to be part of the process from the start and support the State Parks Board in requiring the county to go "the extra mile in terms of public participaton and transparency." Indeed, elected officials and county staff are obliged to be responsible stewards of public resources and facilitate a public planning process that ensures everyone is heard and all options are considered.

Members of the Corral Bluffs Improvement and Preservation Association agree that motorbike enthusiasts should have a place to recreate. And agree that the Corral Bluffs site is not the appropriate site.

Nancy Milvid-Appleman

Dear Mr. Bensberg,

You have received one email from me wherein I expressed outrage over the proposed dirt bike park at Corral Bluffs. However, I have begun to see an opportunity in that park that will have significant benefit for me and my fellow wood carvers in El Paso County if the same model is followed. There are probably about as many wood carvers here in El Paso County as there are dirt bikers. We are good people for the most part too, and we certainly feel entitled to the same rights and privileges of other citizens. Being that we live in a Democracy ,and Democracy is now being defined , per your email to dirt bikers, as fighting for special interests, I would like to request of you that you will locate a property for us wood carvers to have our own park.

What we need is about 300 acres ( 1/3 the size of Corral Bluffs) of forest on relatively flat ground. The Black Forest near the burg of Black Forest is perfect. There are lots of old growth Ponderosa Pines in that area, and we all know that they will someday succumb to rocky Mountain Pine Beetle so the land is essentially waste land anyway. To show our concern for the living habitat that does exist there, we wood carvers will promise to only carve on one side of each tree ( much like the bikers promise to stay on an 18” track) and hopefully we won’t kill the tree this way. We will need to thin the smaller trees out of the way, of course, so we can get in next to the big trees, but that will only be a very tiny percent of the land area. We will carve mostly with chain saws which we admit do make noise. But the citizens who have property nearby are mostly working class folks, and they are pretty used to the sound of chain saws (much like the citizens living near Corral Bluffs who are already used to hearing the bikes at Aztec) running in the forest around them. In addition to our chainsaws we will want to bring in our power carvers and grinders which will require electricity. But I am pretty sure a couple or three diesel generators will be adequate to provide the power we need so the taxpayers of El Paso County won’t be burdened with paying for infrastructure ( at least not on the surface) . And we will require all carvers to pass a chainsaw safety course so we will be assured of a safe operation. This will keep the liability insurance at a reasonable level, I’m sure.

As far as wildlife and vegetation goes: we will promise to carve little holes in the trees to provide homes for birds. The deer and squirrels and fox etc. seem pretty adaptable, so I think they will learn to live with the noise and decimation, just as will the working class adjacent property owners who are likely to whine a little when we get this going. And really there is no significant vegetation in a Ponderosa Pine Forest because of the acidity in the pine needles. Besides when we are done with the park there will be thousands of wood carvings. The County will then be able to open the area to general use by all the people – kinda like an Un-Nature Park as it were... The County will be able to charge admission into the park which should recoup at least a little of the expenditures (unless someone gets seriously injured and sues the pants off the County). People will be able to come there and look at all the rotting wood carvings on all the dead trees (because we know the trees will die even though we are going to sell it to the public that carving on one side only will not kill the trees) .

Your proposed park for 1% of the population at Corral Bluffs seems like a splendid idea to me now Mr. Bensberg – but only so long as you promise to ramrod a similar park for us wood carvers down the throats of El Paso County Property owners and Tax Payers. I am sure we will have to move with stealth under cover of darkness to get this done, just as you are trying to do with Corral Bluffs. It almost seems absurd that something like this could happen…

Sincerely yours,
Denny McNeill , Conservative Republican Taxpaying Voter and Business Owner