Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rainbow Falls restoration off to a watershed start with County Commissioner approval

El Paso County Commissioners Approve Rainbow Falls Master Plan - Collaborative Plan Details Management, Maintenance, Improvements and Funding of the Falls

L'Aura Montgomery of MECA and Commissioner Sallie Clark
join Air Force Cadets at the October 2010 clean up effort.
El Paso County, Colorado, April 14, 2011 –
During the April 12 meeting of the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BoCC), Commissioners received and approved a comprehensive plan dedicated to the restoration and future preservation of historic Rainbow Falls, located on the outskirts of Manitou Springs. Community Services Department Director Tim Wolken gave a presentation to the BoCC highlighting past and future initiatives to clean up the Falls and re-instate it as a treasured landmark and featured attraction for both County residents and visitors to the region. Some of the more immediate renovations and enhancements to the Falls include the addition of trailheads, public pathways showcasing natural vegetation, picnic sites, expanded parking, historic markers, an information kiosk and additional security measures. Other efforts will be dedicated to environmental restoration and infrastructure improvements – including erosion control along US Highway 24, and bank and creek stabilization. Total estimated costs to complete all phases of the Rainbow Falls Restoration Master Plan range between $350 and $600 thousand.

Nicknamed "Grafitti Falls", the Rainbow Falls area is marred
by paint, trash and environmental hazards.
Commissioner Sallie Clark, who serves as BoCC Vice Chair, Park Advisory Board Liaison and Resident Commissioner of the Rainbow Falls property, expressed her appreciation for County and community-wide efforts – ranging from fundraisers to clean-up campaigns to engaged citizen discussions – culminating in the completion and adoption of the Fall’s Master Plan. “It's with appreciation to the public-private partnerships of the many agencies and organizations that our restoration efforts have been realized,” said Clark. "Thanks to Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO/State Lottery) proceeds, in addition to fundraisers and inter-agency collaborations, this once local gem will shine once again."

Background on Rainbow Falls

In April 2010, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners obtained ownership of the 4.9 acre Rainbow Falls property – complete with beautiful waterfalls and other scenic landscape along Fountain Creek. In the late 1800's, Rainbow Falls was a popular picnic stop for travelers along the historic wagon trail through Ute Pass. In recent years, the property has been plagued with graffiti in addition to erosion and environmental issues.

Rainbow Falls’ restoration efforts are a true public-private collaborative involving a number of agencies, community partners and citizens at-large; including: El Paso County; Manitou Springs; Manitou Environmental Citizens Action (M.E.C.A.); Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce; Trails and Open Space Coalition; Fountain Creek Restoration Committee; Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District; and the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Information courtesy of El Paso County*