The U.S. Forest Service today announced that roughly 40 percent of the area burned by last summer's Waldo Canyon Fire — and no, there's still no word on what or who started it — will reopen to outdoor enthusiasts this Friday, May 24. Available areas will include Rampart Reservoir, related campgrounds and picnic areas, and Schubarth Road.
“Since the Waldo Canyon fire, we have accomplished a considerable about [sic] of work at the recreation sites and the trail around the Reservoir," says district ranger Alan Hahn in a press release. "Our goal is to provide a safe environment for forest visitors.”
The remainder of the Waldo Canyon Burn Area will be closed until further notice. The Waldo Canyon Trail #640 is not open because the steep valleys pose public danger during a major rain event which could trap visitors in low lying areas. Hazards exist such as falling rocks and dead trees, unstable ground and hidden stump holes. In several areas, it is almost impossible to climb to higher ground given the extremely steep terrain. The Closure also allows new vegetation to grow without being trampled. Addition re-vegetation projects will take place throughout the year.
Small water craft with electric motors can be launched from the shore at Rampart Reservoir. Visitors are cautioned that the water level at the Reservoir is expected to be low and the boat launch and ramp will be closed. No boats or motor vehicles will be allowed to cross the dam. Nichols Reservoir, south of the dam, is empty and is included in the new Closure Order. Stanley Canyon Reservoir is also empty.
“Please be patient and understand that this landscape has been dramatically altered. Our concern for your safety is paramount” said Hahn.
Public safety is a challenge because of the Burn Area’s proximity to the City of Colorado Springs and heavy visitor use in the past. According to Law Enforcement Officer Tom Healy, “The Closure Order is in place for personal safety and to protect the landscape by allowing it to heal.” Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the open areas. Violators are subject to a maximum fine of $5,000.