The Fox Run Nature Center site location (Fox Run Regional Park) was identified through various plans and studies, including the 2013 El Paso County Parks Master Plan, 2019 Feasibility Study, 2022 Parks Master Plan Update, and respective public processes. The project is currently in the design phase and nearing 60% completion. Specifically, the site within Fox Run Regional Park has been carefully considered and confirmed. The traffic study has also been completed. However, minimizing impacts to the park, the final number of parking spots, and directing nature center traffic using Baptist Road are all being considered. These questions and answers are from the public meeting on February 16, 2024. 

El Paso County Nature Centers’ mission is to provide various outdoor recreation opportunities for all county residents & visitors. El Paso County values collaboration and is dedicated to making a positive difference in the community by serving the residents of El Paso County. County Nature Centers are a cornerstone in the park system and have successfully developed life-long nature conservationists, advocates, and stewards of the great outdoors. Fox Run Nature Center will continue the legacy of the county’s award-winning centers, adding more programming for residents and visitors in northern El Paso County.

f.a.q.

Fox Run Nature Center Location
  1. Why is the nature center located in Fox Run Regional Park?
  2. How was the actual site selected?
  3. Why did you not select Black Forest Regional Park or the Pineries?
  4. What about Kane Ranch for the nature center?
  5. Why not Black Forest Regional Park?
  6. Why do you not use the field next to the entrance on Stella or next to the ponds?

The 2019 feasibility study considered several regional parks for a potential nature center location. This included Fox Run Regional Park, Black Forest Regional Park, and Pineries Open Space. After a lengthy analysis, public input process, and considerable deliberation, Fox Run Regional Park was identified as offering the most opportunity. The location within the park was determined to be at the end of Fallen Timbers Road.

The current design team used the feasibility study to inform decisions about the location of the nature center. Several other locations were re-evaluated including Roller Coaster Road trailhead, the active-use area around the pond, the Oak Meadows area, and the western edge of the park. Ultimately, these locations were not considered for various reasons including impacts to the forest, prohibitive site grading, incompatible park uses, proximity to natural resources, and degraded interpretive values. This exercise reaffirmed that Fallen Timbers Road was the best location for the nature center.

Traffic Impacts
  1. How will the County address traffic to the park and in the park?
  2. How will buses navigate the roads?
  3. Can you build a new entrance road from Baptist?
  4. Are there plans to improve access to Fox Run Park considering more people will be visiting?
  5. Will roads be expanded?
  6. Do visitors drive through residential neighborhoods to reach other nature centers?
  7. Has a traffic study been conducted for the local neighborhoods?
  8. What will you do to control traffic through our neighborhoods?

The nature center project will not include any paving of the existing park roads or include construction of any additional roadways within the park. To help alleviate concerns about traffic along neighborhood streets, the nature center website, media, and all collateral will include directions to use Baptist Road and Roller Coaster Road.

Traffic Impact Study Summary:

Trip Generation – New Fox Run Nature Center (Reference 1).

  1. Trip generation rates based on three-year attendance for two reference nature centers in El Paso County.
  2. Total trips generated from new facility calculated at 56 vehicles per day.
  3. Peak trips were calculated for morning and evening at 5 and 7, respectively.

Trip Assignment – New Fox Run Nature Center (Reference 2).

  1. Figure 5 shows the assignment of new trips generated by the proposed facility.
  2. New AM Peak Trips on Stella/Becky/Tari Drive: 2 vehicles.
  3. New PM Peak Trips on Stella/Becky/Tari Drive: 3 vehicles

Background Traffic Volume Collected for Becky Drive between May 17 th and May 24 th (Reference 2).

  1. Total Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) Volume.
  2. Eastbound Becky Drive AADT: 574 vehicles.
  3. Westbound Becky Drive AADT: 1,083 vehicles.
  4. Total measured AADT: 1,657 vehicles.
  5. Total Peak Daily Traffic Volume data collected for both AM and PM periods.
  6. AM Peak: 117 vehicles.
  7. PM Peak: 150 vehicles.

Comparison of New Trips Generated by Nature Center vs. Background Traffic (Becky Drive Only).

  1. AM Peak Increase (New/Background): 2/117 = 1.71%
  2. PM Peak Increase (New/Background): 3/150 = 2.00%

Improvements to Roller Coaster Road and Baptist/Hodgen Road Intersection (Reference 3)

  1. TIS assumes no roadway improvements to accommodate regional transportation demands, which is conservative.
  2. A new roundabout at Roller Coaster Road and Hodgen/Baptist Road is currently in design and anticipated to start construction in mid-2025.
  3.  Once the subject project is complete, level of service is expected to increase, which will alleviate congestion and likely discourage “cut-through” traffic, or traffic through local road networks.

References:

  1. Traffic Impact Study (TIS) by SM Rocha dated May of 2023
  2. Volume Data Collected by El Paso County Sheriff dated May of 2023
  3. Traffic Impact Study (TIS) for Baptist/Hodgen Road and Roller Coaster Road dated June of 2020.
Building and Site Design
  1. Why does it have a Tower & Canopy Walk?
  2. Will the canopy walk impede hikers’ view?
  3. What are the various rooms in the nature center?
  4. Is it net zero plus certified?
  5. How many parking spots are needed, do we need 60?
  6. Will the nature center have an impact on sight lines with the park?
  7. What is the point of the tower, in that park there are no views of the peak, so why make one?
  8. Is the 1-acre site estimate accurate?
  9. Why does the exterior not blend in with a lodge look?
  10. How far along is the process of this nature center?
  11. What size are their parking lots?
  12. Do the other nature centers have additional buildings?

The nature center design features two buildings, an observation tower, and a canopy walk. The design encourages views into the forest and the preservation of mature trees. Design elements include splitting the building into two smaller structures, the use of planters and tree wells, and disbursement of the parking stalls to avoid mature trees.

The tower is designed to allow visitors to peer into and just above the tree canopy. The tower will provide opportunities for all visitors to view the black forest canopy and learn about the interpretive aspects of the ponderosa pine forest, black forest, and the palmer divide.

The tower will not provide views into neighboring properties and will not be visible from all areas of the park. Because the focus of the nature center is the forest, the removal of trees will be limited to only what’s necessary. The tower and canopy walk will be surrounded by trees and will not be visible from all areas of the park.

The architectural renderings were developed to highlight the building, tower, and canopy walk. They are artistic and do not provide a 100% accurate depiction of the nature center or forest canopy. Final architectural materials, colors, landscaping, and site grading are still under design and engineering.

The nature center will be made from fire-resistant materials and be an example for building in the wildland-urban interface. The nature center will incorporate new technologies and construction methods into the design. This will reduce operating costs, increase energy efficiencies, and showcase newer building technologies. The nature center will be 100% electric, utilize heat pumps, and include radiant floor heating.

The parking lot is being designed to avoid mature stands of trees and reduce stormwater runoff. This is being achieved by featuring a loop road with dispersed parking bays vs. the use of a traditional parking lot. The number of parking spots is still being finalized but will be capped at 60.

The overall project area is 1 acre and includes the nature center and parking lot. To offset this impact from construction activities, the county is committed to decommissioning the fallen timber road, 34 existing parking spots, and restoring the forest canopy. The old road and parking areas will be graded, planted, and converted into a trail to ensure the trail network remains intact.

Impacts to Trees and Wildlife
  1. What environmental concerns were considered in the location of the building and parking lot?
  2. Has an environmental impact study been for the size of the new center?
  3. How many trees will be cut and planted?

The nature center’s location was chosen to limit impacts on the park, provide an opportunity to offset construction impacts, reduce the need for site grading, and reduce the need for stormwater infrastructure. A survey was conducted of every tree over 6” in diameter and has had a direct impact on the design of the nature center and surrounding site. At this time, it is not feasible to determine how many trees will be removed as the design is still in development. Here is a list of environmental considerations:

  1. The configuration of the nature center avoids mature stands of trees.
  2. The location is in an area that avoids large amounts of runoff.
  3. The site does not require large amounts of site grading.
  4. Utilizes existing infrastructure eliminating the need for intrusive impacts to extend utility services and road construction.
  5. Is in a dynamic location between different areas of wildland fire and forest management units.
  6. The location removes the nature center from the center of the forest as originally envisioned at the end of Fallen Timbers Road.
  7. Allows for restoration of the Fallen Timbers Road and 34 parking spots to offset impacts from construction.
  8. Restoration of Fallen Timbers Road improves forest health by planting trees, adding understory vegetation, improving wildlife habitat, and reducing stormwater runoff.

Using Bear Creek and Fountain Creek Nature Centers as reference, there is a documented abundance of wildlife around both nature centers. We will make every effort to minimize impact to wildlife and will work to improve the habitat throughout the park after the nature center is in operation.

Park and Trail Maintenance
  1. How will this project help trail repair?
  2. Will the nature center raise funds for trail maintenance?

The nature center will be a catalyst for enhancements to the park, including the trail system. The nature centers often organize volunteer events and fundraise for needed improvements. The trail systems around Bear Creek Nature Center and Fountain Creek Nature Center are regularly maintained to ensure they provide an adequate experience for people with a variety of abilities. An example of a volunteer trail event would be our Restoration Crew. Currently this group has quarterly events where they address a certain need of the park, be it creek restoration, fire mitigation, trail repair, and more. A similar group would be created at this nature center.

Community Input
  1. Why wasn’t this meeting held closer to Fox Run?
  2. When was the last community survey done?
  3. Why are we doing anything based on a 10-year-old study?
  4. Who did the feasibility study survey?

Outreach and citizen input was a part of the 2013 El Paso County Parks Master Plan, the 2019 Northern Nature Center Feasibility Study, and the 2022 El Paso County Parks Master Plan Update. Outreach was collected via websites, social media, traditional media releases, public meetings, interviews, emails, and outreach at community events.

Recent outreach is ongoing and includes a dedicated project website, county website, media releases, and attendance at numerous public events and public meetings (24 to date). Signs have been posted in the park at all information kiosks since summer, 2023. A “future home of” sign was installed at the nature center building location in January 2024.

  1. Gleneagle Sertoma – (March 1, 2023)
  2. Black Forest Trails Association – (March 8, 2023)
  3. Edith Wolford Elementary School STEAM Day – (April 28, 2023)
  4. Open House – Antelope Trails Elementary – (May 10, 2023)
  5. State of the Outdoors Event – (May 16, 2023)
  6. Town of Monument, Concerts in the Park at Memorial Park – (May 31, 2023)
  7. Get Outdoors Day – (June 3, 2023)
  8. Forge Evolution Kick off the Summer Community Family Day – (June 24, 2023)
  9. Black Forest Trails Association Presentation – (July 11, 2023)
  10. Black Forest Farmers Market – (July 17, 2023)
  11. Tri-Lakes Cares, Client Appreciation Day – (July 24, 2023)
  12. Goat Patch Brewery County Parks Night – (July 28, 2023)
  13. Backpack Bash at Panorama Park – Public Outreach with Dot Boards – (July 29, 2023)
  14. Black Forest Festival- (August 12, 2023)
  15. Bear Creek and Fountain Creek Nature Centers – Dot Boards on display for feedback –   (May 2023 – Ongoing)
  16. Monument Town Council Presentation – (August 7, 2023)
  17. Happy Trails Event – (August 18, 2023)
  18. Palmer Lake Board of Trustees Presentation – (August 24, 2023)
  19. Trails and Open Space Coalition Member Event – (October 10, 2023)
  20. Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Presentation – (October 11, 2023)
  21. King Elementary School Science Night – (January 24, 2024)
  22. Winter Fun at Fox Run – (February 10, 2024)
  23. Public Meeting at Black Forest Community Club – (February 16, 2024)
  24. Pikes Peak Brewing, Co. – Open House – (March 14, 2024)


Other Questions

Is Bear Creek Nature Center near the soccer fields?

Both the Bear Creek Nature Center and Fountain Creek Nature Centers are located far away from active use areas. They are both strategically located in natural settings to enhance their interpretive opportunities and provide unique immersive experiences.

Will you interpret the cultural history of the park and area?

A well-balanced interactive program will be developed that honors our past, informs our future, and preserves the forest. This includes cultural, historical, and biological topics organized into Interpretive themes: Ponderosa Forests of the Black Forest, Palmer Divide, Fire’s Importance, Ponderosa Pine Tree.

Will the nature center allow tourists and host meetings?

The nature center is free and open to the public. It will feature a community meeting room.

Will there be fire mitigation?

Yes, fire mitigation efforts will continue in the park in coordination with El Paso County Wildland Fire. The nature center will use this as a unique interpretive opportunity.

Will there be a Trailability program at the nature center?

Yes, the award-winning trailability program will expand to the Fox Run Nature Center providing access to mobility-challenged individuals and families. It’s important that everyone, regardless of ability, has an opportunity to experience Fox Run Regional Park.

Is the nature center going to be funded primarily through donations, any taxpayer money?

The nature center will be funded through a mix of county funds, grants, foundations, and donations. To date over 140 individual gifts have been received.

What will the tax increase be yearly per household?

The nature center will not result in a tax increase.

When will northern El Paso County get pickleball courts?

There is currently a pickleball court at Black Forest Regional Park. There are no plans for pickleball courts in the Fox Run Regional Park.

Are E-bikes allowed?

Class 1 E-bikes are allowed on regional trails. At this time, no E-bikes are allowed on internal park trails. El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs are currently spearheading an effort to update E-Bike policies.

What about the culturally modified trees?

Trees exhibiting signs of being modified will be preserved. Interpretation will be developed after further consultation with stakeholders.

How will the nature center be monitored for security at night?

El Paso County utilizes traditional security systems, cameras, and patrolling by the El Paso County Park Security and Sheriff’s Office across the entire county park system.

General Comments
  1. Fox Run currently has a lot of use and will be overrun with nature center visitors.
  2. We are excited for the tower and canopy walk for our family with physical challenges.
  3. I did not realize the hours of operations were from 9 to 4, Tuesday -Saturday. That will limit the impact to me when I hike.
  4. I am for the stewardship goals and modest nature center and reclamation of the road.
  5. The feasibility study should have included impact to traffic, speeding, environment, and fox populations.
  6. Keep chopping down the trees and ruin the natural hiking trails.
  7. I am thankful this property was preserved and saved.
  8. This will drive out the foxes and wildlife and increase roadkill.
  9. Construction is disruptive.
  10. Improve trail signage, close social trails, and maintain trails.
  11. The Park has not been maintained to date.
  12. The nature center will provide more staff and volunteers to keep an eye on and provide a presence in the park to reduce inappropriate behavior.
  13. We did not know about the project.
  14. The presentation was very insightful and educational on the project.
  15. We do not need a nature center.
  16. Trails are ruined by bikes.
  17. Please have more park patrols.
  18. Pave the road.