The public meeting scheduled for March 5 has been postponed to allow for more time to facilitate an ongoing discussion with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pertaining to the presence of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, which is on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
Smith Creek Natural Area consists of 99.04 acres located in northern Colorado Springs adjacent to Northgate Blvd. The namesake “Smith Creek” highlights the creek that runs through the length of the property. Smith Creek Natural Area acts as a buffer to the riparian community that runs through it from the surrounding housing developments. The Smith Creek drainage is an important movement corridor for wildlife traveling west to east through Colorado Springs. The Natural Area preserves native riparian habitat identified as high quality habitat for the federally threatened Preble’s Jumping Mouse. The property also includes a pond along with high quality riparian habitat providing refuge for a variety of mammals and migrating bird species.
Natural Area Description
A Natural Area is defined by the City of Colorado Springs Regional Parks, Trails, and Open Space as an area of special importance that contains or supports one or more of the following:
- Significant ecological, geological, or paleontological resources
- Natural features classified as endangered or threatened
- Natural features classified as sensitive to the impacts of human activity, or otherwise in need of protection
- Natural features that provide environmental protection, recreational, educational, scientific, aesthetic, or economic benefits
- Features that are unique or rare examples of our natural heritage
The City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Service is undertaking a new natural area stewardship plan for the Smith Creek Natural Area. The goals of the plan establish a philosophical foundation for the long term implementation of the plan. These broad goals provide the basis for management actions related to issues such as vegetation management, invasive species management, wildlife habitat, trail management, and overall visitor use.
- Vegetation – Protect and enhance the quality, diversity, and health of native plant communities while managing for non-native plant communities.
- Wildlife – Protect and enhance wildlife habitat on the property
- Trails and Infrastructure – Manage trails and visitor use facilities to provide high-quality recreation experience, while protecting natural resource values.
The following “givens” represent existing guidance and decisions that are non-negotiable and set the parameters for the decision making-process and implementation of this management plan.
- The City’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is legally responsible for the design, maintenance, operations, and management of Smith Creek Natural Area. All elements of the Smith Creek Natural Area Management Plan must conform to the Colorado Springs Parks Rules and Regulations Ordinances.
- Smith Creek Natural Area is subject to the requirements and restrictions of the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) Ordinance.
- The planning process will respect the terms and conditions of existing utility easements and the conservation easement, and endangered species act regulations on the property. Any proposed changes to the conservation easement must be approved by the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board and El Paso County Community Services Department, Environmental Division.
- The City Public Works Department and Colorado Springs Utilities will continue to be allowed access to the property in order to monitor and maintain their infrastructure.
- Implementation of the Management Plan will occur as funding allows.
- Groups and individuals interested in the property are encouraged to help develop the best possible management plan; all voices will be equal in the decision-making process.
- Only non-motorized recreational uses (i.e., hiking, biking and equestrian) shall be allowed within Smith Creek Natural Area.
- The recommended Smith Creek Natural Area Management Plan will be submitted to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for approval.
- The lower dam along Smith Creek within the Natural Area will not be restored due to state and federal restrictions.
The Smith Creek Natural Area Stewardship Plan Timeline (Subject to change)
- September 2019 – Baseline study and information gathering commenced
- February 2020 – Community Survey launched (Available beginning Feb. 7)
- TBD – Community Meeting
- TBD – Additional public meetings as needed
- TBD – Draft Natural Area Stewardship Plan Presentation to the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board– Open to the public
- TBD - Final Natural Area Stewardship Plan considered for approval and adoption by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Board - Open to the Public
Please provide your input! Complete this short survey on the Smith Creek Natural Area.
The community meeting scheduled for March 5 has been postponed to a later date. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please check back for more details.
For more information please contact the project manager at David.Deitemeyer@coloradosprings.gov