Upper Cougar Trail Final Design Presentation to the Board in July
On July 21 at their regular monthly business meeting, the Ken-Caryl Ranch Master Association Board will consider a recommendation from the Ken-Caryl Ranch Open Space Committee (Committee) to approve the final design for Upper Cougar Trail. The Committee formed its recommendation after hearing a presentation from the Cougar Design Team (Team) at the Committee’s monthly meeting on June 25. This action by the Committee is consistent with step B-9 of the Ken-Caryl Ranch Trails Implementation Process.
The proposed trail is located in the southwest corner of Ken-Caryl Ranch Private Open Space (see map). The new trail when combined with Lower Cougar Trail (approved by the Board on June 9) will add nearly five miles of new trail to our existing trail system, which totals nearly 38 miles of singletrack, 2-track, soft surface and hard surface trails. The two projects together will provide a new open space access/trailhead to neighborhoods in the south part of the Valley, a trail loop of moderate to easy difficulty along the rolling, grassy toe slopes of the foothills, and a new access to the Foothills Open Space including connections to Massey Draw and trails north of there.
The Team started its work in January 2015, with the goal of creating an enjoyable trail experience for hikers, bikers and equestrians while “avoiding impacts and protecting habitat for rare or sensitive species” in accordance with the Ken-Caryl Ranch Trails Master Plan (TMP). The Team also looked closely at potential impacts to neighboring properties. This is the typical procedure for finalizing new trail projects, and like other trail projects the design alignment can change several times during the process while the Team works to find the right balance. The Team’s specific goals included:
- Balance recreation and conservation
- Incorporate results of biological report (a reference to the Survey of Critical Biological Resources, Cougar Trail Alignments, completed by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in 2014. Can be viewed on community website) to come up with an alignment.
- Optimize all considerations, including biology, technical design, buffers to properties and view-sheds.
- Provide resident access to the southern part of KCR Open Space, serving the southern community.
- Reduce/minimize biological impacts and avoid/prevent sensitive biological impacts. Primary biological concerns that the Team focused on were habitat fragmentation, riparian crossings and potential impacts to Golden Eagle and raptor habitat.
- Develop a final design consistent with the Trails Master Plan.
- Produce a document for how the conclusion was reached.
Ultimately the Team summarized its work in the following statement (excerpted from the document titled Cougar Design Team Summary and Presentation of Final Proposed Alignment):
“Trails do create an impact, and throughout this process, the Cougar Design Team has attempted to minimize/reduce biological impacts to sensitive resources to the extent possible. While the team agreed on a large portion of the trail, there is not full agreement on every piece of the alignment. Part of the team believes that this trail is a good compromise from the original alignment that will provide a great user experience while taking the biological resources we are blessed with into careful consideration.”
Open Space staff for the Master Association worked with the Team throughout the process and have worked on conceptual designs for trails in the project area since the early part of the last decade. While the addition of a trail in the project area would be a wonderful, new recreational opportunity for the community, staff is concerned that southern sections of the trail have the potential to disrupt the nesting activities of Golden Eagles in South Valley Park despite the fact that the entire project falls outside the Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommended half-mile nesting buffer for Golden Eagles (no human encroachment, Dec. 15 through July 15).
The Board will begin reviewing details of the project on July 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ranch House. Several background documents relative to the project can be viewed on the Open Space page.
By Open Space Manager Sean Warren