City of Colorado Springs / Environmental Sustainability / Sustainability Plan / Natural Environment

Community natural environment efforts and goals that we're learning about...

Pikes Peak Region Sustainability Project Stretch Goals state that by 2030, the built and natural environments will complement one another and reflect our commitment to enhancing the lives of people; promoting community, culture, and commerce and preserving and protecting the natural environment. Achieving this goal means:

1.       All residents have access to a sustainable and comprehensive system of parks, open space and trails.

2.       Habitat in the region, including for threatened, endangered and imperiled species, is restored, protected and preserved.

3.       Indoor and outdoor environmental quality is healthy for all, with air pollutant levels below state and local health thresholds.

4.       Ground and surface water quality is better than designated water quality standards and classified uses (recreation, aquatic habitat, agriculture and/or water supply).


Colorado College follows a strategy of Plant Health Care, or PHC. PHC is as much a change in attitude as a change in technique. Not only does it emphasize plant health over pest management, but it takes an ecosystem approach that emphasizes working with nature instead of fighting nature.


Fort Carson plans to reduce installation greenhouse gases and other air pollutants to the lowest achievable emissions rates by 2027.  The air quality goal also includes reductions in hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) and criteria pollutants.  The post?s ability to reduce GHG emissions will be reliant on success in reducing energy usage, increasing the efficiency of heating/cooling systems and electrical use, and reducing the number of vehicles entering or used on the installation.  Other pollutants will be reduced from these initiatives as well.  HAPS will also be reduced by substituting less hazardous and nonhazardous products for industrial operations such as vehicle maintenance. In addition the Installation intends to have training ranges, maneuver lands and air space capable of supporting current and future military training requirements.  The goal is supported by multiple natural and cultural resource strategies including working with internal and outside entities as well as local landowners to prevent incompatible land uses that might affect military training.  Also critical to achieving the training lands goal will be to prevent unnecessary impacts and to manage, conserve, preserve, protect and mitigate land use, water, soils and vegetation, wildlife, archeological and other resources in a proactive manner.  


University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will look at strategies to design new buildings that divert rain water through landscape areas. As part of the LEED strategies, UCCS has set aside open space double to the footprint of each of the new LEED buildings.


Colorado Springs Utilities is testing emissions control technology that could reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide released into the air from their coal-fired power plants.


The United States Air Force Academy implemented an Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan (INRMP) to integrate all aspects of natural resources management with the base's mission.  A multiple-use approach will be implemented to allow for the presence of mission-oriented activities, as well as environmental quality through the efficient management of natural resources. Specific management practices to maintain biological diversity and ecosystem function will: 1. Minimize habitat fragmentation and promote the natural pattern and connectivity of habitats, 2. Protect native species and discourage nonnative, invasive species, 3. Protect rare and ecologically important species,  4. Protect unique or sensitive environments, 5. Maintain or mimic natural processes, 6. Protect genetic diversity, 7. Restore species, communities and ecosystems, 8. Monitor impacts on biodiversity and 9. Provide quality, sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities.


The El Paso County plans on pursuing the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive County Weed Management Plan to address the rapid expansion of noxious weeds in the area. Along with this, the County will develop citizen tours of significant sites pertaining to noxious weeds and mountain pine beetle to address the continuing increase in affected acreage by invasive plants species, and the considerable threat for a sizeable increase in the mountain pine beetle population in El Paso County.


The State of Colorado has a greening government goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2080.


And, here's what other communities are doing...





         Planting thousands of new trees each year, in parks, natural areas and on private property to increase Denver?s tree canopy from six% to a total of 18% tree cover.

         Formally designate 100 acres as protected natural areas in Denver?s Park system.

         Design at least one Denver golf course using Audubon Colorado?s Wildscape Manual to use native plants and provide habitat for birds and other urban wildlife.

         Train 50 volunteers as park stewards for the citizen evaluation program at 30 park sites.

         Designate 1000 acres of parkland as protected Natural Areas in Denver?s Park system, ensuring their preservation and value as wildlife habitat, islands of peaceful respite for visitors, and low resource consumption for maintenance.

         Initiated a policy of using non-traditional green space to connect open space. They utilize gulches and utility corridors (i.e. water drainage ways) where appropriate, as examples of green connectors.

         Improve water quality in the South Platte River.

         Minimize and mitigate land-use impacts to wildlife and important habitat and movement corridors, to the maximum extent practical.

Douglas County


         Protect and enhance wildlife habitat and movement corridors and foster wildlife conservation.

         Use creative design and planning approaches to mitigate environmental and visual impacts on the natural terrain.

         Support and utilize environmental systems comprised of water, wildlife and wild­life habitat, recreation, and sense of place as the basis for community.

Fort Collins

         Develop a Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan.


         Using permeable pavement and rain gardens to control stormwater runoff.  The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) completed a new 1200 square feet rain garden off its 11,000 square foot greenhouse parking lot.



         Protect, expand and restore interconnected ecosystems, ecologically important natural areas, and wildlife corridors

         Expand and maintain the urban forest.

         Promote Clean Surface Water through Urban Stormwater Management.

o   Stormwater utility fee reduced (Fee-bate) for advanced practices.

o   Stormwater retention through streetscape Improvements.

o   Divert stormwater through rain gardens.


? About 50,000 homeowners have disconnected their gutter downspouts from the storm-water system ? the cheapest way to improve storm-water quality. The water flows from rooftops into gardens and rain barrels. The city rewards homeowners with signs that say, "I disconnected my downspout for clear rivers."

? Portland has rain gardens on 300 roofs, covering 24 acres. Fees, credits and zoning incentives have promoted the rooftop gardens, which capture about 80% of rainfall.

? Curb extensions that contain trees or native plants replace storm-water drains. A well-designed natural area can absorb nearly all the rain that falls on a city block, while slowing traffic, improving pedestrian safety and making a street prettier.

? Fees and credits try to match price to the costs of storm-water control. Every property is charged a fee to pay for the city's storm-water system, but credits are granted for those who keep water out of pipes.



         Promote and support community gardening.

         Maintain and expand the urban forest.

         Preserve prime farmland and critical habitat resources.

         Protect and restore the City?s urban creek system.

         Practice ?green? park and golf course design and sustainable maintenance practices.

         Acquire land for additional public green space in underserved neighborhoods and infill development target areas.

         Develop an inventory and restoration and management plans for the City?s natural open spaces.

         Work with community partners to achieve an urban tree canopy goal of 35% per the region?s Greenprint Plan.

         Work with regional partners to adopt and implement guidelines that will protect and preserve open space, prime farmland and key habitat, including wildlife and riparian corridors

         Improving water quality by naturally filtering overland runoff, reducing flood risk through bank stabilization and increased water storage.

Salt Lake City

         Protecting trees that absorb greenhouse gases and reduce storm water runoff and pollutants

         Allow urban community gardens as a permitted use in public parks/open space.

         Permit broad range of urban agricultural uses (e.g. fowl and animal raising) by right in suburban and urban areas with use conditions to ensure compatibility, and allow urban agricultural accessory structures, such as pens, coops, storage sheds, etc.

         Implement ?green infrastructure? options that can enhance tree health and permanence, such as tree gardens for storm water management and water recapture, naturalized swales, porous pavement, and best practices utility locations.

         Allowing use of rain gardens, drainage swales, and other facilities as part of infrastructure.

San Diego

         Planting 5,000 shade trees per year on public property for twenty years to contribute to the mitigation of urban heating


         Preserve local plants, wildlife, and natural resources to maintain the biodiversity and long-term sustainability of the area?s ecology.

         Retain mature trees in public right-of-ways to preserve shade and the character of the street.

         Protect and restore essential ecosystem services that maintain water quality, reduce flooding, and enhance sustainable resource development.

         Use parks and green space systems as primary elements in planning for long term sensitive growth planning, endangered species protection, and watershed protection by placing important natural areas in the public domain.


         Using parks as outdoor classrooms for students.

         Preserving environmentally sensitive areas.

         Leaving significant, unique natural areas undeveloped for use as neighborhood amenities.

         Preserving creek areas to use as community amenities.

         Integrating abundant unpaved areas in parking lots to promote natural drainage and landscaping.

         Disconnecting impervious areas to provide maximum infiltration and natural irrigation on individual development parcels.

         Established natural filtration drainage systems in local pocket parks by using sand-based filtration areas and eliminating curbs to allow for natural flow and drainage of water.

         Using available landscape areas, such as parking lot medians or edges along alleyways, for bio-swales that break down pollutants and dissipate them in root systems.

         Creating parks that provide corridors for wildlife.