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Public Land Managers say too many illegal trails are ruining local parks

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 22:21:53-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Public land managers in Southern Colorado are using the term "shocking" to describe the number of illegal trails showing up in local parks and open spaces.

It has motivated a first of its kind collaboration between park managers in Colorado Springs and El Paso County, also land mangers with the United States Forest Service.

“We brought these land management agencies together to look at this issue and each agency has this issue across the board—parks, open space or acres and acres of National Forest,” said Colorado Springs Parks, Regional Trail, Opens Space Manger, Scott Abbott.

Trail networks on public lands are not random. They are highly planned with a purpose.

“It really helps us in protecting our parks and open spaces,” said Abbott.

Only there is an issue with too many unwanted trails. They go by many names like social trails, rogue trails, undesignated trails, and illegal trails.

A recent analysis at Red Rocks Open Space in Colorado Springs showed illegal trails far outnumbering assigned routes.

“60 miles of [undesignated] tails, verses 30 miles of designated trails,” said Colorado Springs Parks Senior Ranger, Gillian Rossi.

Previous mapping showed a similar ratio at Garden of the Gods park..

“We’re asking the public to please mind our closures and understand that we are desperately trying to protect these lands,” said Abbott. The off-trail issue can kill vegetation and destroy wildlife habitat.

The multiagency collaboration is hoping to bring more attention to the issue. The hope awareness will motivate some self-education among park users. The request is for some self education on the trail system where you plant to hike, bike, or ride horses.

“If you don’t know where those are, making sure you’re stopping at the trailhead, looking at park maps,” said Rossi, “downloading the COTREX app which has updated trail information.”
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