Designated For Years as a Potential Regional Park

We believe there is wide support for creating a regional park at Corral Bluffs. It's a candidate in both the master plans of El Paso County Parks Department and the Highway 94 Comprehensive Plan. The Colorado Springs Open Space Plan calls it out as a potential city/county open space. It's also an open space candidate with the Trails and Open Space Coalition. Corral Bluffs is a landmark on the eastern border of Colorado Springs and features not only bluffs, but grassland and stream beds.Corral Bluffs meets many of the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) criteria for open space including:

1. Wildlife Habitat - Endangered raptors, over 70 species of birds and a wide variety of wildlife make their home at Corral Bluffs.

2. Significant Vegetation - Corral Bluffs contains 3-4 ecosystems and its vegetation is highly native.

3. Water Resources - As the headwaters for Jimmy Camp Creek, Corral Bluffs acts as a basin to collect rainwater.

4. Recreation - Trails, picnic areas and other recreational opportunities could be created at Corral Bluffs.

5. Nature Observation & Environmental Education - With abundant wildflowers and wildlife, Corral Bluffs is perfect for appreciating the unique beauty east of Colorado Springs.

6. Visual Resources - The view from the rim is breathtaking and hiking at the base of the Bluffs is like hiking in Red Rock Canyon.

7. Protection of Cultural Resources - The fossils at Corral Bluffs are extremely significant. Fossils and early Native American artifacts both offer wonderful educational possibilities.

8. Urban Shaping and Buffering - Falcon and Ellicott are two of the three fastest growing areas in El Paso County. Open space is needed to buffer housing and commercial development in the area.

9. Adjacency - Corral Bluffs could connect to the existing Jimmy Camp Creek Park and the regional trail system.

In the current El Paso County Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan (pdf), Corral Bluffs is highlighted as a significant landmark and high priority land for conservation (see map below). It's called out as a site with historically and culturally important features that merits consideration for protection and potential inclusion within the county's system of regional parks and open space.

Corral Bluffs is included on the map (below) of proposed City/County open spaces.

Corral Bluffs was also called out as potential open space as early as 1985 in the Highway 94 master plan. See map from the Highway 94 Plan below.

The 2003 Highway 94 Comprehensive Plan says, "Corral Bluffs is the most recognizable natural visual feature within the Planning Area. According to the Highway 94 questionnaire, the Bluffs are considered the most important natural asset in the area. Because of their distinctiveness from the surrounding landscape, they focus visual attention and create an entry point to the Planning Area. ... Strong consideration should be given to preserving this area as an open space during the platting process." (link to pages from plan).

The Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) web site: describes the candidate area of Corral Bluffs as follows:

This distinctive landform extends along the eastern fringes of the urbanizing area of Colorado Springs. In places, the bluffs drop nearly 400 feet, marking an abrupt transition from the elevated plains on the east to the Fountain Creek drainage basin. Erosion along this front has exposed an interesting set of rock strata and created a series of gullies where more favorable moisture conditions support the establishment of isolated juniper, ponderosa pine and other woody species. The bluffs are generally more prominent north of State Highway 94 and taper off to the south.

The natural area identified on Map I encompasses an approximately I mile wide swath of land that includes the limestone outcrops for which the area is named, as well as some of the prairie at the base and along the top of the cliffs. It also includes important wildlife habitat. Protection of this area would maintain the visual quality of this important landmark and could also provide an opportunity for a regional trail alignment along the base of the bluffs that would link Fountain Creek with the Jimmy Camp Creek Park proposed by Colorado Springs. The bluffs also have important cultural resource values, including their use by early Native Americans as a buffalo jump. Cattlemen gave the bluffs their name back in the days of open range -- the steep cliffs served as a barrier where cattle could be corralled with relatively little fence construction. (link to Corral Bluffs information on TOSC site)

Trail connections: Trails proposed by the City and County would connect Corral Bluffs with upper and lower Jimmy Camp Creek Park and the existing Rock Island Trail which leads to Peyton.

Eastern Colorado Springs an Underserved Area

The County's 2005 master plan (below) shows two of the highest growth areas in El Paso County are in Falcon and Ellicott.

The approved Banning Lewis Ranch Master Plan (link to PDF), (the largest housing development in the history of Colorado Springs), calls for the construction of homes to accommodate 175,000 additional people.

The Major Thoroughfare Plans for both the City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County call for the expansion of Highway 94 including three new interchanges.

The City's Future Open Space System web page says, "The present open space inventory is fairly widely distributed, but there is a definite lack of open space in the eastern and southeastern sectors of Colorado Springs. Potential open space located in these or other underserved areas should be seriously considered as additions to the system."