If Friday had a theme, it’d be animals and predictions. Feb. 2 - that day when sleepy, morning eyes gaze upon Punxsutawney Phil for a weather forecast. He saw his shadow. Six more weeks of winter. I hope it’s true. Six weeks of winter and a wet spring for our beloved Pikes Peak.
Just hours after Phil’s prediction, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff Changed the Current for a bundle of bears. They gave seven yearling bear cubs a second chance of life in the wild on Pikes Peak. The three sets of siblings were orphaned for various reasons and, after many months of preparation to set them free, they bedded down in two dens on our watersheds for (hopefully) a cold and snowy stay. We're thrilled to have them! Protecting the natural environment is important to us, as is collaborating with other agencies that help make Colorado Springs a great place to live.
The crew cruched through a dry, brittle landscape, carrying bears to their hide-away. I'm told that at this time of the year the snow can be so deep you'd need snow shoes and sleds to transport the 120 lb. creatures.
I can't help but wonder if pulling a sled is easier than lugging the weight of sleeping bears. I don't wonder about another thing, though. That incredibly brittle ground. It's a natural tinderbox. I buy-in to the philosophy that fire can be healthy for a forest. My concern comes, though, when it threatens our community and our water.
Our fresh, first-source Rocky Mountain water is delicious. We'd have challenges, though, if the reservoirs on the Peak were clogged with silt and nasty black residue left from an unwanted fire.
The warm, dry winter gives us a crunchy landscape that serves as a harsh reminder of years past - like 2002, 2012 and 2013 when wildfire was a bit too close to home. I plead with you all, be cautious and careful outdoors. One mistake could start fire and threaten our community again.
Driving in a capable 4- wheel drive truck away from the bears' new home, pristine reservoirs were a sight for dry eyes. Coming off of several wet years, our community has about a three-year supply in storage.
That brings me to my next plea. Water for your landscape is readily available now. We live in a semi-arid climate and it's an especially dry year. Take a bit of time - twice a month - to water your landscape on warm, winter days. It will pay off this spring and summer.
As a sign-off, I can't resist sharing a thought with you from our General Manager of Water System Operations. (He's the outdoorsy looking fella in the orange jacket helping to lug a bear up the hill.) He said, "This place (the watershed) is owned by the citizens of Colorado Springs. We must responsibily care for it for their benefit." That, folks, is another reason that I love working at Colorado Springs Utilities. It's an organization filled with real people that are serious about serving you with the finest utilities around and making this a great place to call home.
Here's hoping that Punxsutawney Phil was right. Bring on winter and a snowy spring for the Rockies.