Rick Langenberg and Bob Volpe
Mitigation Plans Could Escalate Dramatically for Pike National Forest
With a little help from Uncle Sam, Teller County may reap the benefits of a Department of Defense program, aimed at protecting military installations in the area.
Ultimately, the effort, part of the REPI (Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program) program could lead to a major increase in mitigation efforts for the Pike National Forest.
That’s the hope of the Teller County Commissioners. Commissioner Erik Stone briefly outlined the program at last week’s meeting. The effort also will involve a partnership with the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.
The Department of Defense REPI program is aimed at protecting military installations in the region, and can involve millions in funds.
But ultimately, Stone believes it could set the stage for mitigation efforts to greatly expand in the Pike National Forest, one of the big red light areas of pending threats for military hubs in the region. The threat of wildfires is a growing concern for military installations in the Pikes Peak region, noted Stone.
Currently, about 3,000 acres are getting treated in the Pike National Forest, a figure well short of what is needed.
This could increase to 100,000 acres, if the program moves forward as projected.
Stone sees this as a big benefit for Teller. He notes that the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t have enough funds to deal with growing demands for mitigation and protection against devastating wildland fires. County officials and neighborhood groups have been striving to mitigate more acres on both private and public lands, but this task is often overwhelming.
This effort could escalate with the REPI program, according to Stone.
The REPI effort, which allocates millions of funds, basically is designed to protect military installations by “helping remove and avoid land use conflicts near installations and addressing regulatory restrictions that inhibit military activities,” according to REPI website These projects “contribute to the longevity of working farms, forests and ranchlands, increase recreational and open space opportunities for nearby residents and military families and protect against military relocations that would adversely affect the local economy.’
Mitigation of the surrounding Pike National Forest is expected to top the list of concerns.
Big Dollar Requests Proposed For Sheriff Department and Office of Emergency Management
The Teller County Sheriff’s Department and the Office of Emergency Management are leading the charge in the quest for big-dollar capital project monies for next year.
Based on the latest top recommendations of the county’s capital improvements projects committee, which prioritizes requests for Teller agencies, these departments collectively are making bids for close to $580,000. Topping the list are plans for a whole body scanning system at the jail and three additional sheriff vehicles, along with a mobile radio operator and incident response vehicle for OEM.
The big question: Will these agencies get their projects? The capital improvement project process is done every year and is evaluated by a committee, consisting this year of Dee Bondage, Kimberly Torres, Julie Gilley, Janice Hellman and Violett Watt. These requests, which are rated by the committee, become part of the 2022 budget process.
New DDA Board Gets Down To Business
The new members of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board of directors got an introduction to the whys and wherefores of how the DDA operates at their last regular meeting.
The new lineup consists of practically a new board.
City council recently appointed three new members to the board, a process that got met with some controversy. Long-time member of the board, Tanner Coy was ousted, as was veteran member Nick Pinell. Ellen Carrick also resigned recently, leaving another unfilled position on the board.
The new members include; Arden Weatherford, Tony Perry, and Jon Gemelke.
DDA Board Chairperson Merry Jo Larsen presided over the meeting concentrating on bringing the new members up to speed on the workings of the board. She asked all the board members what the thought they should go over at a special work session to get the new members informed.
The work session was scheduled for Tuesday morning in the WP council chambers.
One of the big issues hinges on the future of Woodland Station. According to some estimates, nearly 30 different development projects have been proposed at this site, once considered the future commercial anchor of downtown development in Woodland Park, over the last few decades. That vision, though, hasn’t materialized, and it has been the source of much debate.
Plus, the new board will have to deal with two more vacancies. Recently, long-time members Jan Wilson and Elijah Murphy have called it quits.