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2022 Lease Renewals for Black Forest Section 16

The leases for 25 years of land use of Section 16 by Academy District 20 and El Paso County have served well for a quarter of a century to implement the Management Goals of the Stewardship Trust with compatible land uses to include conservation, education and recreation. The leases can be renewed in December of 2022.How did these leases happen?The almost-forgotten story of cooperation and multiple uses was initiated by citizens of the Black Forest, members of the Slash and Mulch Committee (SAMCOM), and Black Forest Trails Association (BFTA).SAMCOM began in 1992. BFTA evolved from Black Forest Equestrian Trail Association of the 1970s. By 1996, both were incorporated nonprofits, and both organizations are proudly providing public service in 2022.In November 1996, Colorado Constitutional Amendment 16 reorganized the state land Board (SLB), Trustee for (now) 4 million acres of state lands. The Stewardship Trust was created for managing state lands identified with special values.Early in 1997, BFTA members approached Academy District 20 Administrator Steve Morrison (School in The Woods founder) about working together for long-term land uses on BF Section 16.BFTA members and Morrison approached Kurt Schroeder (EPC Parks) ó and the Partnership for Section 16 began. The Partnership soon included SAMCOM, County Solid Waste Management Administrator Jon Fisher, and State Forest Service Forester Dave Root. Key citizens in the partnership were Ruth Ann Steele of SAMCOM, and Irv Perelstein and Judy von Ahlefeldt from BFTA.During 1997 and early 1998, The Partnership for Section 16 orchestrated public meetings, discussions with EPC Planning Commissioners and EPC Commissioners and cooperatively developed the long-term Land Use Vision and management goals.In 1998, SLB enthusiastically approved the Partnershipís vision and management goals for Section 16. Leases were signed with Academy D-20 (500+ ac) and El Paso County Commissioners (91 ac). D-20 acquired 10 acres of Section 16 for School In The Woods.BFTA volunteers assisted the county for initial trail layout and roughing in the trail for use in 2001.Later BFTA helped fund the toilet vault at the trail head, provided memorial benches and it still conducts cleanup on the trail itself and adjoining roads. County Parks eventually upgraded the 4-mile trail to a wide regional trail.The future?It is my hope that a similar 2022 Partnership can create continuing vision and management goals in concert with Stewardship Trust goals through constructive public processes. Section 16 is very important to many aspects of both the Black Forest Community and a large audience. Stewardship Trust Management goals include ìenhancement of beauty, natural values, open space and wildlife habitat.îSection 16 is one of the last large non-fragmented parcels in Black Forest. It deserves a well-thought-out future.

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