BLACK FOREST PRESERVATION PLAN
Adtopted by the El Paso County Planning Commision on June
INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE
This Trails Addendum provides planning for a network of
non-motorized, multi-use trails within the Black Forest Planning
Area. These trails will be linked to the Regional Trail System
as outlined in the El Paso County Master Plan for Parks, Trails
and Open Space, and the City of Colorado Springs Open Space
Master Plan. The Trails Addendum is intended to provide
guidelines to developers for establishing trails within new
subdivisions as well as elicit the cooperation of existing
residents for trail access across private property without
compromising existing land uses and privacy.
Informational elements of this document begin in Section A.2
which provides reasons for a Trails Addendum. Issues,
opportunities, and constraints are identified in Section A.3 to
aid understanding of the complexities of developing a trail
network throughout a large region. Guidelines for property
owners, developers, and planners are presented in Section A.4.
The map in Section A.5 shows existing and proposed trails.
Finally, Section A.6 identifies committee members who generously
volunteered their time and talent to prepare this document.
The purpose of the Trails Addendum is to establish guidelines
for the development and coordination of a network of multi-use,
non-motorized neighborhood and community trail systems within
the Black Forest Planning Area. These trails should be designed
to integrate with the proposed El Paso County Parks, Trails, and
Open Space Regional Trail System, where appropriate. Trails will
serve to maintain and encourage the outdoor lifestyle that
residents of the region enjoy and want to preserve as well as
possibly provide alternate modes of commuting as our vehicle
traffic continues to increase. Some can also serve as migration
corridors for the benefit of wildlife. Developers can be
encouraged to reserve unbuildable land, such as drainages and
floodplains for use by the Trails System. Finally, the Trails
Addendum, as the first of its kind, may provide a model for
other El Paso County Topical and Small Area Plans. As such, it
will improve the quality of life for people, and help
preservation of wildlife, as well as make use of natural
features of the land for outdoor recreation and wildlife
Although encouragement to provide trails has been a part of the
Black Forest Preservation Plan since 1974, few new developments
included non-motorized trails in their plans. Also, many trails
in older subdivisions had been abandoned and fences built that
closed other trails. In addition, many changes have taken place
in the County Planning Area including a new master plan for
trails and open space, and new funding sources. More definitive
language and guidelines for trails are necessary to keep the
Black Forest Preservation Plan current and reflect the goals of
our growing population.
In early 1998, the Black Forest Trails Association requested
the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners to appoint a
committee to draft a Trails Addendum to the Black Forest
Preservation Plan. That committee was appointed by the County
Commissioners and convened on April 28, 1998, at the Edith
Wolford Elementary School in Black Forest. The committee (see
Section A.6), held 14 meetings throughout the year. All meetings
were open to the public with advanced notifications of the
meetings posted by the El Paso County Planning Department. On
February 21, 1999, the finalized draft addendum from the
committee was submitted to the Planning Department for posting
on the County web site and inter-governmental and public review
and comment. In addition, a public meeting to provide copies of,
brief and receive comments on the addendum was held for Black
Forest Residents. Comments from all these reviews were addressed
by the Committee and appropriate changes incorporated. On Jun
15th, 1999, the final draft was presented to the Planning
Commission for approval and incorporation in appropriate
ISSUES, OPPORTUNITIES AND CONSTRAINTS
A.3.1. Trails Integration
Creation of a coarse network of regional trails, and the
connection of regional trails with local trails serving rural
residential areas, are primary issues for trails integration.
The 1997 El Paso County Parks Trails and Open Space Plan
provides an excellent framework for a regional trails and open
space system which will link County parks with other outdoor
recreational opportunity areas within the Black Forest Planning
Area. County trails also provide connections to trails and open
space areas outside the Black Forest Planning Area. At present,
this system exists largely on paper and trail locations are not
Creation of a fully integrated, non-motorized trail system is
an opportunity to be a model for successful trails planning
throughout the entire county. A high level of community interest
and leadership in Black Forest will contribute to the success of
the effort. To date, a number of community and local trail
facilities have been developed, planned, or at least are
available as corridors awaiting specific trail alignment or
clearing. Challenges to full implementation include funding
constraints, physical barriers, and complex existing land
ownership and development patterns. The local system is by no
means itself complete or fully integrated and, in any case, will
not be fully viable unless the framework of a regional system is
A.3.2. Roads as Trails
While unpaved roads may continue to be part of a trails
network, they cannot continue to be the main opportunity for
non-motorized trail use.
Traditionally, many Black Forest residents have relied on a
high percentage of unpaved roads as a surrogate equestrian,
bicycle and pedestrian trails system. Factors precluding
continued reliance on unpaved road as surrogate trails include
population growth, increased traffic, safety concerns, and road
surfacing policies prompted by air quality regulations and
Department of Transportation objectives for maximized traffic
Opportunities to use roads as trails include: 1) limiting the
number of roads that are hard-surfaced and integrating these as
a permanent part of the trails system; 2) accommodating trails
within road rights-of way; 3) offsetting the paved surface of
new roads within the right-of-way to allow space for a trail
along one side; 4) increased right-of-way width; 5) design of
shoulders to be used as trails, and 6) incorporation of trails
into easements adjacent to roads.
Hard surfaced roads are not amenable to integration with a non-
motorized trail system. Through roads, such as Black Forest,
Vollmer and Shoup Rds., which may be most desirable for
connecting park facilities or with regional trails, also carry
the most motorized traffic.
A.3.3. Trails in new subdivisions
Inclusion of non-motorized trails in new subdivisions is an
effective way to provide an expanding non-motorized trails
There are no formal land dedication requirements for trails in
subdivisions, but many developers recognize the demand for
trails and the enhanced land values in subdivisions with trails.
El Paso County Parks emphasizes regional park and trail
facilities. In most cases subdivision park dedication
requirements translate into only small amounts of land and the
County Parks Department ordinarily favors accepting fees in lieu
of land in order to maximize their revenues for regional
facilities and to limit their maintenance responsibilities.
Thus, if a large, well-integrated trails network is to be
created, it must come largely from efforts by the private
sector. Because new development in the Black Forest often occurs
in a discontinuous and not fully predictable pattern, often
within a framework of existing development, it is not reasonable
to rely entirely on new development to achieve a functional
integrated trails system.
New developments provide good opportunities to effectively and
cooperatively identify and provide for trails. Compared to years
past, the County and State have better policy and regulatory
tools with which to assist property owners in accommodating
trails, limiting liability, providing for signing and assuring
that facilities are kept open and maintained.
Allowing only exclusive use of trails for residents within a
subdivision is difficult to enforce and does not realistically
recognize the connecting function of trails. Reconciliation of
the desires of the residents of a particular subdivision for
exclusivity with the external desires of the larger community
for connectivity may be an issue.
A.3.4. Trails in older subdivisions and existing
Lack of trails, or closure of trails specified in covenants
(but often not shown on subdivision plats), are two major
issues for trails in older subdivisions and existing
Existing road and utility corridors may provide opportunities
for connecting trails though previously developed areas. Proper
placement of fences on property lines, rather than within the
road right-of-way, may provide space for trails if the road is
not centered in the right-of-way. Voluntary fence setback, or
fence removal, would also provide space. There are many
opportunities to incorporate trails into and through existing
subdivisions on a voluntary basis.
The use of conservation easements is becoming more common in
the planning area. This trend presents both an opportunity and a
constraint depending on whether trails are an allowable use
within the easement.
Trails have been incorporated into the approval of older
developments, but this has not been accomplished within the
context of a comprehensive planning framework. I
nclusion of trails as part of the subdivision process is
preferable to retrofitting trails with individual owners after
subdivision has occurred.
While some developments include excellent trails facilities,
those associated with others are not functional or were never
set aside in the first place. Nonfunctional trails result from
many factors including lack of maintenance, legal and illegal
closure, and physical barriers.
A.3.5. Networking with Government and Trails Organizations
Trails planning and implementation will be most successful
if supported by many organizations.
Considerable progress has already been made in the past decade
for trails planning and implementation in the Black Forest area.
An active coalition has been formed which includes the Black
Forest Trails Association, the Trails and Open Space Coalition
for the Pikes Peak Region, the County Parks Department, other
County departments and several developers and neighborhoods.
Coalitions are critical for effective access to, and use of,
funding resources including those provided through Great
Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and Transportation Efficiency Act for
the 21st Century (TEA21). Recognition of the importance of
trails for community, safety, and as alternatives to motorized
transportation in county wide and small-area plans, is an
opportunity to strengthen these coalitions.
At present a constraint is that many of these coalitions are
somewhat informal, short-lived, or dependent on volunteers.
Funding for trail education, implementation and maintenance
Many opportunities exist for trails funding. These include GOCO
and TEA21 as well as Colorado State Trails . Both of these
options allow an area to essentially compete for discretionary
funds on the basis of the worthiness of a project rather than on
a pure formula basis. Preference is given to projects which
involve leveraging and partnerships.
The relatively competitive nature of the process creates a high
standard for project acceptance. Projects also need to be "ready
to go" before they will be funded. It is also clear that sources
of funding should always be expected to be insufficient to meet
total demand, thereby making prioritization an important and
A.3.7. Trail Maintenance
Trail maintenance is important for trail beauty and safety,
and for public acceptance of trails as desirable. Where trails
have not been maintained, they tend to become closed to public
The County Parks Department already does an excellent job
maintaining the existing County Regional Trail System. It will
continue fulfilling this responsibility as the Regional Trails
System expands throughout the County.
Local trails maintenance has been accomplished on a largely
ad-hoc basis through neighborhood associations, the work of
developers, and area-wide volunteer efforts. There is an
opportunity for a significant portion of trail maintenance to be
accomplished effectively through coordinated volunteer
A.3.8. Trail Education
Education of the public on the value and proper use of
trails will contribute to the success of a non-motorized trail
The physical presence of trails, and the presence of trail
users, are viewed with apprehension by some property owners.
Most evidence shows that well-planned trails enhance property
marketability, and local trails foster a sense of community,
help deter crime, and do not necessarily conflict with privacy.
Within this context there is a continuing concern with
conflicts involving trails users who are not aware of trail
etiquette and limitations, or do not choose to abide by
reasonable rules. Because of the diversity of users, trail
education can be expected to be a continuing need.
A.3.9. Trail Design
Trail design is important for safe, attractive,
Standards for effective trail design have been developed in
many places in the United States and other countries. In the
Black Forest area, tread width, distance from fences and cut or
fill slopes, vertical and horizontal clearance, properly marked
road crossings, and separation of horse trails from other
non-motorized uses (where possible) are important aspects of
trail design. Articulation of standards should be pursued.
Application to specific areas (forest, grassland, hillslopes,
wet areas) is an important element in trail implementation.
A.4. GOALS, POLICIES AND PROPOSED ACTIONS
This section is the primary applied portion of this Trails
Addendum to the Black Forest Preservation Plan. The goals,
policies and proposed actions, which follow, are intended to
guide the review, administration, and implementation of trails
decisions within the planning area in nine key areas:
1. Trails Integration
2. Roads as Trails
3. Trails in New Developments
4. Trails in Existing Neighborhoods
5. Networking with Government and Trails Organizations
6. Funding For Trails
7. Trail Maintenance
8. Trail Education
9. Trail Design
A.4.1. Trail Integration
Create a County Regional Trail and Open Space System that serves
residents of the Black Forest Planning Area, and allows
residents to integrate neighborhood trails into that system.
Support completion of the County Regional Trail and Open Space
System in Black Forest.
Refine and establish the regional trail system through the Black
Forest with the assistance of its residents and cooperation of
the Development Community. (See map, Section A.5)
The Black Forest Trails Association should help the County Parks
Department identify and map primary trail corridors in the Black
Forest Planning Area.
A.4.2. Roads as Trails
Integrate unpaved roads and trails adjacent to paved roads into
the trail network.
Support the DOT in creating the most conducive and safe means
for transportation throughout the Black Forest.
Strongly encourage the DOT to consider the impact on the area's
present and future trails when choosing dust abatement
alternatives in Black Forest. Proposed Actions
Provide a minimum 10-foot trail area along all new neighborhood
roads in compliance with the County Road Surfacing Policy. This
trail area will be platted as a public DOT non-motorized,
shared-use easement when outside the road right-of-way. Public
access within these easements will be protected by the County.
Support creation of a county-wide bicycle plan that identifies
appropriate transportation corridors within Black Forest, then
direct the DOT to add bike lanes on the identified roads as
additional right-of-way is acquired, major road reconstruction
is undertaken, and transportation enhancement funding permits.
Incorporate guidelines for trails along neighborhood roads as
well as guidelines for offset roads into all relevant DOT
policies, manuals and guidelines.
Adopt best management practices as county guidelines for the
pruning and removal of trees in the road right-of-way, in order
to make room for trails on right-of-way of existing roads.
Trails In New Developments
Provide neighborhood trails that can ultimately connect to the
regional trail system for all new developments.
Protect trail easements recorded on plats and in covenants from
closure through County action.
Encourage trail and public rights-of-way specific to: 1) the
regional trails; 2) mapped trails in the planning area; 3)
trails in adjacent and nearby neighborhoods; and 4)
intra-development connecting trails.
Locate trails in areas that serve a multipurpose function and
limit the impact on future property owners. Locations that may
be considered but are not exclusive to trails are: utility
easements, section lines, property lines, drainage ways, flood
plains, preservation and conservation areas.
Include and protect trails on plat plans and by covenants.
Indicate all trails on plats and in covenants as open to all
non-motorized trail users.
Provide trail easements to allow convenient, non-motorized
travel throughout the entire subdivision. For example, trail
easements could be located along interior roadways as well as
around the entire development with at least one interior trail
connecting to the perimeter trail. Ultimately, each new
development should design a trail system that best fits its
natural topography and the needs of its future users, while
remaining sensitive to the concerns of adjoining property
Encourage developers to meet with appropriate community members
and adjoining property owners to review and discuss all aspects
of proposed development plans before finalizing them for County
Indicate that all trails are open on the plat plans and in the
covenants, as long as watersheds are protected from defoliation
and erosion and wildlife trails and corridors are preserved for
wildlife. At a minimum, there should be one designated open
trail that allows users to traverse a neighborhood to reach an
adjoining neighborhood or trail.
Encourage developers of business parks and commercial property
to include a network of trails in their development plans. This
network should also connect to surrounding neighborhoods and
follow the policies stated above. A.4.3.g. Install signage on
all trails to help insure that users stay on them. A.4.3.h.
Revise County Planning Regulations to require new, rural,
residential subdivisions not suited for sidewalks, to include a
system of public, shared-use trails. Regional park fees should
not be waived when fulfilling this County requirement. A.4.3.i.
Recommend that the County actively support all platted trail
easements by protecting them from closure, thus ensuring the
continuity of a subdivision's planned trail system for
Trails In Existing Neighborhoods
Recognize the value of trails and the important role they play
in the daily lives and the lifestyles of all residents in
existing developments. Trails are safer than roads for
non-motorized uses. Trails help deter neighborhood crime. Trails
encourage social interaction and create tighter-knit
Encourage residents to enforce and follow trail covenants and
existing plat plans that include trails to ensure continuity of
the trail system.
Encourage neighborhoods with trails to connect to the identified
trail corridors (see map, Section A.5) as well as trails in
Encourage residents in neighborhoods that do not have trails in
their covenants or plat plans to create a local trail system.
Coordinate, between the County, residents, and homeowners
associations, to work together to review plat plans of older
subdivisions to identify and reopen abandoned trails and closed
easements to ensure a complete trail system.
Establish a "Neighborhood Trail System", supported by covenant
and legal documentation. These trails, established by residents
and homeowners associations, may be located on unpaved roads,
along interior paved roadways, on utility easements, and section
lines, as well as in drainage ways, floodplains and preservation
areas for minimum impact on property owners and wildlife.
Indicate all trails on plats and in covenants as open to all
non-motorized trail users.
Install signage on all trails to help ensure that users stay on
Support local trail associations' educational efforts to educate
existing developments of the benefits of trails (i.e., safety,
crime reduction, social interaction, property value, etc.)
Establish a tax rebate program, supported by the County, for
landowners who allow trails easements on their property. These
easements can either create a connection to the Regional Trail
System or create an open trail that allows an adjoining,
existing development access to the Regional Trail System.
Networking with Government and Trails Organizations
Improve ongoing communication between government agencies and
trails organizations to increase the likelihood of project
coordination and the ultimate success of those projects.
A.4.5.1. Promote an information-clearing house which government
officials and trail advocates can access, to find each other and
access project updates.
Increase the opportunities for communication and cooperation
among County Parks, Planning, Transportation, the Colorado
Division of Wildlife, and all other appropriate county
departments and state agencies to work together for trail
development within the county.
Ensure that trails are entered into all the appropriate
transportation plans of local, regional, state and federal
Utilize volunteers to create and maintain a current database of
appropriate local, regional, state and federal government
agencies as well as trail organizations. The information should
include the contact person, address, phone, and the
organization's focus. It should also include the status on key
local, regional, and state trail projects. The County Parks
Department should assist this effort.
Make information available to all interested landowners,
developers, and citizens from the database to help facilitate
Funding for Trails
Obtain the funding necessary for the County to acquire and
maintain regional trail corridors.
Develop County programs that financially support the development
Support increased County funding for trail development.
Encourage the County to apply for private and government grants
to fund trail development.
Increase County Parks' overall budget, thereby increasing the
amount earmarked for regional acquisition and development.
A.4.6.b. Identify opportunities to establish public/private
partnerships to facilitate new trail easements on private land.
A.4.6.c. Investigate all funding sources and apply for those
that are appropriate to finance trail projects.
Form public/private partnerships whenever possible to increase
the number of grants for which the County would be eligible.
Utilize volunteers to work on fund-raising campaigns so that the
County can raise the matching funds required to receive most
Direct the County Department of Transportation to apply for
transportation enhancement funding to implement a county-wide
bicycle plan that identifies appropriate transportation
corridors within the Black Forest.
Preserve well maintained, clean trails important to the area's
ecology and which add to the enjoyment of living in the Black
A.4.7.1. Encourage ongoing cooperation between government
organizations, homeowners associations, trails organizations,
community organizations and landowners to keep trails clean and
in good repair and free of noxious weeds.
Organize, with the help of the Black Forest Trails Association,
an annual Community Trail Day each spring to: 1) control and
repair erosion; 2) repair and replace trail signs; 3) pick up
trash; and 4) trim tree limbs to provide overhead and side
clearance. Volunteers would also investigate and report on any
recently closed trails.
Travel the trails each Fall to pick up trash and identify key
project areas for repair during the next spring. Members of the
Black Forest Trails Association should organize these trips.
Organize an adopt-a-trail program for ongoing cleanup of local
trails. The Black Forest Trails Association should organize
these groups. County trails will remain under the county
Foster trails education as the foundation for developing,
maintaining and protecting a trail system in the planning area.
Support a comprehensive educational program for landowners and
trail users of all ages that promotes the development of trails
and their proper care and use.
Create a speakers bureau which will develop new and utilize
existing printed materials, and institute a local media plan to
help eliminate misconceptions and educate the community about
trails. This should be done in cooperation among the County
Parks Department, the Black Forest Trails Association, the Black
Forest Land Use Committee, the County Department of
Transportation, and the Trails and Open Space Coalition.
Identify liaisons to work with the Black Forest Trails
Association, the Black Forest Land Use Committee and government
officials in support of trails.
Name a trail coordinator, from homeowners associations with
trails, who will educate and work with residents in their
neighborhood to protect and maintain trails and encourage their
Educate school students about proper trail etiquette by using
every opportunity to work with local schools.
Accommodate both the needs of wildlife and non-motorized trail
users (including but not limited to walkers, joggers, hikers,
off-road bicyclists, equestrians, and cross-country skiers) in
the design of trails in the Black Forest.
Encourage trails that add to the general quality of life in
Black Forest through their organized placement and natural dirt.
Design the optimum trail system in a subdivision, whether new or
existing, to allow users: 1) to travel from their homes to a
desired location by choosing among a variety of connecting loop
trails that may be located between property lines, on other
existing easements, along roads, in designated open space and
any other areas deemed appropriate. 2) to connect to trails in
neighboring subdivisions, which could exist now or may be built
sometime in the future. 3) to connect to the County Regional
Trail from their homes.
Ensure that trail easements are at least 20 feet wide to safely
accommodate the variety of non-motorized users who may choose to
Retain the existing natural dirt base, for the trail itself, to
keep the character of the surrounding environment and eliminate
construction costs as well as benefit the needs of the most
varied number of users (walkers, joggers, equestrians,
cross-country skiers, wildlife, etc). Trail erosion has not been
a problem in Black Forest, as evidenced by popular, well-used
neighborhood trails that are at least 20 years old. These trails
are primarily used by area residents, not the entire County, as
is the case on regional park trails.
Ensure that when the County constructs a surfaced trail, a
parallel track be identified and left natural for those users
who benefit from a softer, natural base.
Place trails located along roads within treed areas on the north
and west sides of the road, whenever possible, to allow sunshine
to melt ice and snow off the trail.
Mark all trails with signage to help ensure that users stay
within the designated trail easement.
Consider the potential impact of trails on the adjoining
property owners when a neighborhood locates a trail along the
adjoining property line of another subdivision. If warranted,
the impact may be mitigated by landscaping, the use of
topography in trail placement, and any other reasonable means
that would address adjoining landowners' concerns.
Direct land developers, land planners, County Staff, homeowners
associations and Black Forest residents to design trails that
will provide the most benefit to resident users and wildlife.
The El Paso County Master Plan for Parks Trails and Open Space
(1997) and the City of Colorado Springs Open Space Master Plan
(1997) each refer to and outline a future vision of a Pikes Peak
Regional Network of parks, trails and open space. The Black
Forest Preservation Plan Area makes up a significant portion of
the County Master Plan and it should be referred to for greater
detail. Planned trail corridors (as of mid-1997) are indicated
on the Regional Planning Map, along with planning for specific
trail routes, as recommended in the master plans.
Ongoing Efforts During the course of this Addendum Study for the
Black Forest Preservation Plan Area, a number of specific
ongoing planning efforts have been identified. These efforts are
continuing by both City and County Parks staffs and trails
advocacy organizations, such as the Trails and Open Space
Coalition for the Pikes Peak Region, the Black Forest Trails
Association and others. The efforts are specifically directed in
the areas of: 1) proactive work with private developers, 2) use
of conservation easements for open space planning and potential
trail corridors, 3) Department of Transportation plans for new
highway corridors and modification of existing public roadways,
and 4) work with private property owners in reopening existing
Future Implementation Plans
The regional plan for trails is not a single effort, but a
series of implementation projects over the course of the coming
years. Each of these projects must meet the tests of: 1) be part
of a master plan, 2) form partnerships for funding and
implementation, and 3) obtain public approval and support.
Examples of projects affecting the Black Forest Area, and shown
on the Regional Planning Map, include: 1) the Black Forest
Section 16 Partnership, and 2) the Jackson Creek Trail Segment
from Fox Run Park to the New Santa Fe Trail. Each of these have
resulted in planned trails presently scheduled for funding and
implementation. Projects also included are the completed
segments of major Regional "Spine" Trails: the New Santa Fe
Trail (north/south), the Pikes Peak Greenway, and the Rock
Island/Midland Trails Systems (east/west). A number of others
are in the planning stages, i.e.: the Powers Boulevard
Interchange with La Foret and Skyline Trails, and trail
easements through several new developments in both city and
county jurisdictions. These are all shown on the included
regional map as completed trails, or as broad Regional Trail
Corridors. The Addendum Trails Corridors Map is attached as
The following residents and supporters of non-motorized Trails
throughout the region gave their time and talent to develop this
Trails Addendum to the Black Forest Preservation Plan:
* Erv Perelstein, Chairman
* Cal Utke, Vice Chairman
* Juel Kjeldsen
* Karen Laden
* Arthur Lapham
* Sherrie Oram-Smith
* Amy Phillips
* Ruth Ann Steele
* Kay Stricklan
* Dave Watt
* = Appointed voting member by the Board of County
The following interested citizens also participated;
Other Key Contributors
Joe Salute, Planning Commission Liaison and committee
Carl Schueler, Planning Department Liaison
Jeff Brauer, Parks Department Liaison
Dave Watt, Department of Transportation Liaison
On behalf of the residents of the Black Forest Planning Area,
the Trails Addendum Committee wishes to thank the El Paso County
Board of County Commissioners, Planning Commission and Planning
Department for their support in developing this Trails Addendum.
As the first of its kind in El Paso County, we hope to have
provided the model for Small Area Comprehensive Plan support of
the County's Regional Trails System.
Erv Perelstein, Chairman
May 18, 1999