Rain­bow Falls des­ig­nated his­toric site

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By The Gazette

Rain­bow Falls Re­cre­ation Area was dubbed a his­toric site this week, a mile­stone in a years-long ef­fort to re­store a space plagued by van­dals.

The El Paso County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously Tues­day to re­clas­sify the 5-acre re­cre­ation area, which fea­tures a se­ries of wa­ter­falls just west of Man­i­tou Springs near U.S. 24, mak­ing it the first ever coun­ty­des­ig­nated his­toric site.

As a his­toric site, the falls, pre­vi­ously closed from dusk un­til dawn, will be open to the pub­lic cer­tain hours each day and su­per­vised by staff or vol­un­teers. Of­fi­cials hope the over­sight will pre­vent peo­ple from de­fac­ing the area, which has been nick­named “Graf­fiti Falls” af­ter years of van­dals spray-paint­ing on the bridge above the falls and sur­round­ing rock.

“We’re try­ing to break that cy­cle,” said County Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Tim Wolken, who first pro­posed re­clas­si­fy­ing the falls as a his­toric site at a pub­lic meet­ing in Au­gust. “This is a change of cul­ture for Rain­bow Falls.”

With the change in ti­tle, new sig­nage and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams to teach vis­i­tors about the his­toric value of the falls are in the works, Wolken said.

Af­ter the area was se­verely flooded in 2013, the Colorado De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion worked on sta­bi­liz­ing the banks of Foun­tain Creek and re­paired the ac­cess road and main trail lead­ing to the falls. More restora­tion fol­lowed this year, when the agency fin­ished a $1.8 mil­lion main­te­nance project on the bridge above the falls.

The county, city of Man­i­tou Springs and CDOT have al­lo­cated $385,000 in fund­ing for more im­prove­ments to the area.

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