Stories about Red Rock Canyon
City, Friends group hope to educate, gain ideas for interpretation

       Colorado Springs Parks and the Friends of Red Rock Canyon will hold the first of five free public meetings/presentations Thursday, July 12 to help create an interpretive master plan for Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
       The session will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St. Speakers will be local historians Don Ellis, with the topic of “History Along the Hogbacks”; and Mel McFarland, “Railroads and Mills.”
       Upcoming gatherings will be July 26 (geology), Aug. 16 (Native American heritage), Aug. 23 (biology) and Sept. 13 (a wrap-up discussion).
       According to Matt Mayberry, director of the museum and City Parks' Cultural Services, the dual strategy is to inform citizens about intriguing Red Rock aspects and to seek their ideas on explaining them to future park visitors.
       “There is nothing interpretive now,” he noted. “All the signs are just way-finding.”
       Why the need for five meetings? “There's just so much to talk about at Red Rock Canyon,” Mayberry said.
       The city bought the 788.1-acre Westside open space in 2003.
       A Red Rock master plan, created in 2004, calls for interpretation, but gives no further details. “I like it vague,” Mayberry said. “I think there are lots of opportunities.”
       Unlike the way it did the overall master plan, the city will have no written proposals for the public to comment on. The hope is that ideas will come forward in response to the information provided. The city will use that input to develop the interpretive master plan over the winter and start installing the first phase in 2008, the Cultural Services director said.
       Mayberry expects that at the very least there will be “basic signage.” Funding is available from city lottery funds, as well as the Friends of Red Rock Canyon's $5,000 “challenge grant” (which is going toward the transformation of the property's Bock House into a shelter/interpretive area, possibly also in 2008).
       Mayberry does have some interpretive ideas going in. One is that Red Rock is more of a “local open space” - with nearby Garden of the Gods being more regional - and so the information might need to be tailored to the reality that a higher percentage of the visitors will have been there before.
       He would also like to get citizen feedback on modern interpretive capabilities. For instance, people who own certain types of portable computer technology could potentially plug in to an electronic connection at the park and download the information to take home.
       The recent issue of the Ellis-edited Red Rock Rag, the Friends' quarterly publication, suggests that signs “will be one of several ways people in the future will be able to learn from Red Rock Canyon. Websites, books, audio, film and other media can all be used to tell Red Rock Canyon's stories.”
       For more information, contact Mayberry at 385-5636.

Westside Pioneer article