Open microphone for citizens to start next Red Rock confab

       Four areas of contention will have a chance for public airing at the next meeting in the Red Rock Canyon Open Space master-plan process Wednesday, Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.
       In fact, an open microphone will be set out at the beginning of the meeting for any people who want to “share their ideas with the entire group,” according to City Parks Planner Chris Lieber. “We'll ask folks to sign up to speak/present as they enter so we can best manage the time. Once the ideas are presented/shared with the whole group, we will be breaking into smaller groups to give folks the opportunity to discuss the new ideas.”
       The 789-acre Red Rock Canyon was originally master-planned as an open space the year after the city bought it in 2003. But with the more recent purchases of the neighboring Section 16 (640 acres) and White Acres (45 acres), City Parks officials decided last year to work up a new master plan combining all three parcels into one and giving them all the name of “Red Rock Canyon Open Space.” The process started in 2011, stopped for several months, then restarted at a meeting Aug. 1.
       The usage conflict stems from City Parks' master-plan consultant, Tapis Associates, proposing last year to set aside certain “sensitive” areas from human use because they include wildlife habitat and significant stands of evergreens and/or are potential spotted owl habitats. One of these areas takes in the existing Waterfall Trail between the Intemann and Palmer Red Rock/Loop trails; the other three are the west side of Section 16, where several people (chiefly mountain bicyclists) have requested a new trail; and areas in upper Red Rock Canyon and the bottom of Sand Canyon.
       Lieber believes that the Tapis map is in keeping with sentiments expressed by participants at last year's public master-plan meetings, when there was “a lot of talk about preservation of sensitive areas.” At the same time, people have also spoken up for a “balance between use and conservation,” he said. “If there are ways to accomplish both, we'd like to hear them.”
       Lieber conceded that the two main, existing trails in Section 16 - the Intemann and Palmer - both cross areas that Tapis has identified as sensitive. However, he said the city is not considering closing them. “In the big picture, they could have been routed differently, but they are established,” he said.
       After Aug. 22, additional public master-plan meetings are scheduled Sept. 5 and 11 and Oct. 24 at the Westside Community Center, with a draft plan scheduled to go before the city's Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) Committee in December and the Parks Advisory Board in January.

Westside Pioneer article