Honor Farm future in the works
Lake Pueblo State Park and the City of Pueblo are coordinating efforts to determine long-term use of the Honor Farm property. Both entities own adjoining property in the area and share many of the same issues and concerns on the area’s use.
The Honor Farm property is located adjacent to the northern boundary of Lake Pueblo State Park and is visible from Pueblo Boulevard and U.S. Highway 50.
The 4,100 acre Honor Farm property originally managed by State of Colorado Mental Health Institute and the State Department of Corrections was leased to the City of Pueblo for a 25 year period from 1976-2001.
In 2001, the City purchased the northern 2,350 acre portion of the property.
As part of the purchase, the City of Pueblo granted a conservation easement to the State of Colorado that addresses the recreational uses allowed on the property and the management of the allowed activities.
“The conservation easement is designed to protect appropriate recreational use of the property and to assure that the property can be enjoyed by future generations,” explained Monique Mullis, Manager of Lake Pueblo State Park.
The hills and bluffs located along the southern portions of the City property that extend onto the remaining State-owned property have been a popular area for off-highway vehicle use for many years. During the summer months, thousands of motorcyclists, ATV riders and other users have accessed the property even though a designated and managed trail system is not yet in place. Both the City and the State have not authorized OHV use on their properties, in fact no trespassing signs are in place in all areas, but unfortunately these areas have seen their fair share of illegal riders over the years.
Both the City of Pueblo and Lake Pueblo State Park have wrestled with issues in the area as both parts of the property have seen heavy use and some unfortunate misuse in the absence of coordinated planning and proper funding.
Undesignated trail use is not the primary issue that both entities want to address. Illegal dumping on both properties is also a serious and unsightly problem.
Over the years, State Park and City staff have both had to remove not only piles of residential trash, but also trash dumped by commercial contractors, such as tires, shingles, and construction waste.
“We understand the OHV community sees the Honor Farm area as an important location for off-road recreation,” said Mullis.
“But we also understand the property needs a solid management plan that prevents erosion, fights illegal dumping and assures that the area is safe, organized and protected for future users. This is an issue for our portion of the property as well as the City property.”
“We look forward to partnering with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to jointly develop a plan for the management of these properties that could provide for managed OHV uses and associated improvements,” said Steven Meier, City of Pueblo Interim Parks and Recreation Director.
Planning and implementing final plans takes time, but the state and the city are confident that working together to ensure an integrated approach is the right step. In fact, the timing couldn’t be better as Lake Pueblo State Park is embarking on a planning process for the park in the new year.
While the planning process will address the entire park property and not just the Honor Farm portion, the state is looking forward to working with the city to tackle the issues both entities have wrestled with for years.
“We also understand and appreciate the importance of public involvement in a planning process like this,” said Meier. “There will be opportunities for the public to provide their comments and input throughout the process.” Park Manager Mullis adds, “Look for the first opportunity for public input to be in mid-January. We will be providing more details as they come available.”
In the meantime, Meier is reminding people to review the information regarding the Honor Farm that is posted on the City’s Park and Recreation website at www.puebloparks.us and is asking that you report any illegal dumping that you observe on the property by calling (719) 553-2700.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience and future involvement in this mutual process. The City, along with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, looks forward to the day when the Honor Farm property is safe, managed and enjoyed by many as a premiere open-space and recreation area in Southern Colorado,” said Sam Azad, City Manager.