What’s in a name change? A lot, new Friends of RRC hopes

       A new name heralds the changed purpose for the major citizen support group for Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
       The name, Friends of Red Rock Canyon, was unveiled in the recently released summer/fall issue of the Red Rock Rag. The newsletter previously was published by the informal Red Rock Canyon Commit-tee in conjunction with the non-profit Red Rock Canyon Foundation; because the committee disbanded at the start of the year, the new issue was published by the Friends and the foundation.
       Most of the same people have been involved in all three groups.
       Although the Foundation continues to exist, the “friends” designation will lead to more effective long-term preservation of the property, according to Foundation President Shanti Toll.
       “As citizens, it is now time to protect the canyons by working with the city,” Toll writes in the Rag. Among the favorable aspects, he writes, are the capability to provide citizen stewardship of the land, to “advocate within the city government for Red Rock Canyon's fair share of resources,” to work with City Parks in trail development and to apply for certain types of grants that the city cannot.
       The arrangement is spelled out in a written agreement stipulating that the city must consult with the Friends on any course of action regarding the property, according to Toll and Aimee Cox of City Parks.
       The citizen support effort started in 1999 with the Red Rock Canyon Committee, an ad hoc advocacy group whose goal was to save the 788.1 acre property from development. In 2002, the foundation was created to add a non-political arm to the effort.
       The advocacy need went away during 2003, when the City of Colorado Springs agreed to buy the property as open space.
       “The foundation has been an interim process,” Toll told the Westside Pioneer. “It came about because we were going from an advocacy group to where we are now partners with the city, on the same team, helping our government protect this land.”
       Don Ellis, who continues as editor of the Red Rock Rag, added, “It's pretty exciting, having an ongoing role” in the process.
       This was the second issue of the year for the Rag, which for several years, printed monthly. Ellis said future publication times are not certain, but it is likely that the newsletter will fall into a quarterly time frame. Issues are mailed out to several hundred supporters.
       The city works with a number of friends-type groups around town. An ongoing Westside example is the Beidleman Center in Sondermann Park. Such groups provide volunteer help to augment paid staff and “broaden public awareness,” as Cox put it.
       For its part, the city will offer staff liaison assistance to the Friends of Red Rock Canyon, when needed. “We'll meet with them and discuss things if issues arise,” Cox said.
       An upcoming example of the joint effort will be the Sept. 18 trail workday at Red Rock Canyon, which is co-sponsored by the city and the Friends of Red Rock Canyon. The Red Rock Rag asks for volunteers, noting a registration deadline of Sept. 9.
       The group is also helping plan the Aug. 28-29 initial volunteer trail-building project at Red Rock Canyon, which has reached its limit for volunteer workers.
       A meeting of the Friends of Red Rock Canyon, open to the public, will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, in the Building 4 Activities Room of the Village at Skyline off Lower Gold Camp Road.
       For more information, call Toll at 634-1810 or the city at 385-5947. The group's website is saveredrockcanyon.com.

Westside Pioneer Article