Open Space and Trails
Beautiful parks, well-planned trails and abundant open space are a few of the things that make Castle Rock a great place to call home. The Parks, Open Space and Trails Division makes it a priority that residents be able to explore the great outdoors right from their own backyard. So, take a hike with the kids, enjoy the great outdoors or sneak a peak at local wildlife.
Open space and trails
Most residents would agree, Castle Rock has some of the most beautiful trails and open space in Colorado. With 95 miles of trails and just under 6,000 acres of open space that define the region’s most prominent features, you never know what kind of adventure will be waiting for you.
The Town of Castle Rock embraces conservation throughout parks, trails and open space. Currently, roughly 30% of the Town is designated open space. The Town demonstrates a commitment to appropriate land use planning and resource conservation through various programming, projects and outings.
Summer Trails Exploration Program
In demonstrating the Town’s commitment to health and wellness, and to promote use of the Town’s scenic trails, we invited everyone to get outdoors during the summer and explore with the Summer Trails Exploration Program, or STEP. STEP was recognized by the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association as the most innovative program in Colorado in 2015, winning the Columbine Award for Programming.
Wild in our Town
Wild in our Town is an event that provides an informative education presentation to area residents on local wildlife that includes facts on wildlife, tips to avoid wildlife conflicts, ways to protect pets, advice for wildlife watching and displays of nearly 20 different types of animals, from a mountain lion to a porcupine. The program also provides the public an opportunity to speak directly with local wildlife representatives such as Natural Resource Specialists, County Park Rangers and Castle Rock Animal Control Officers. Check out our Public Environmental Education page for information regarding the Wild in our Town event and other educational opportunities.
Preble’s Habitat Conservation Plan Renewal
As part of the Town’s commitment to conservation, the Parks and Recreation Department must ensure habitat conservation along trails and in parks and open space. The original Incidental Take Permit associated with the Douglas County Habitat Conservation Plan (DCHCP) for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse expired on May 11, 2016, ten years from initial issuance. The renewal process has been initiated with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for a 10 year extension of the original permit and mitigation requirements established in the DCHCP.
The renewal process includes the renewal to the Intergovernmental Agreement between the Town of Castle Rock, Town of Parker and the Board of County Commissioners of the County of Douglas for the continued implementation of the DCHCP, as well as the authorization for the application for the renewal of the Incidental Take Permit. These documents were submitted to the USFWS Endangered Species Permit Office before the permit expiration date and the applicants received written confirmation from the USFWS Colorado Field Office that the Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit coverage remain effective throughout the renewal process.
With the renewal of the Take Permit and IGA, the Town can proceed with the completion of the remaining list of identified road, bridge, trail and utility projects (known as Covered Activities) within Preble’s habitat, such as the Festival Park Project, East Plum Creek Trail Phase 5 and new water and sewer infrastructure for the Utilities Department. Required paperwork has been submitted to the USFWS and is being updated in order for the renewal to be processed.
In response to ongoing flooding from beaver activity along East Plum Creek and Sellars Gulch that has caused maintenance issues on the East Plum Creek Trail and the Sellars Gulch Trail in the downtown area, Town staff applies a mix of sand and paint to healthy native trees as protection from girdling and felling by active beavers in the area. The sand-paint mix has proved effective as an inexpensive protection measure against beaver activity. Volunteers do not paint trees that are unhealthy, such as having lighting strikes or multi-trunked, in order to leave some as food and building materials for the native beavers.
Media coverage of the volunteer work effort and the benefits from saving native trees (wildlife habitat, shade, erosion control, scenery) have been done in previous years.