BACKGROUND, updated March 2012
In 1997, the Association, based on input from owners, began a long range planning process for the area of Pagosa Lakes. This plan was to include a detailed study of the potential for Parks, Trails and Recreation development in Pagosa Lakes. The plan also was to include implementation strategies, timelines and designs for such projects. Vandergrift and Associates out Durango, Colorado was hired in 1997 on a limited basis to help the Association begin the process. An inventory of greenbelt and open spaces was taken and a mail-out survey of the Property Owners was conducted. The survey reflected a desire by the property owners to see such things as walking and biking paths and other recreational park areas developed for the future. The Board of Directors charged this planning effort to the Lakes, Fisheries and Parks Committee, a committee that was created in the early 1990’s to help the board manage, improve and develop lake, park and trail amenities.
In 1998, Vandergrift and Associates has hired to begin working with the committee on the actual plan, and in 1998 a trail and pathway plan was designed that included the recommendation of over 60 miles of non-motorized pathways in Pagosa Lakes. This was set as a priority by the committee due to the fact that the committee felt that the Pagosa Lakes area was devoid of any safe sidewalks or any other means of non-motorized transportation. During the same year Vandergrift and Associates also compiled a detailed demographics report that enabled them to determine recreational demand for the community presently and in the future based on National Standards.
In 1999, the Lakes, Fisheries and Parks Committee began the planning effort to address detailed parks, trails and recreational amenities. Vandergrift and Associates was again hired to help with this process. This aspect of the plan entailed using the demographics information to determine future park and open space demands. It also includes a few concept designs for park areas. The Parks, Trails, Open Space and Recreation Master Plan document is a compilation of all three of the aforementioned efforts, and is intended to be a guide for future programs in Pagosa Lakes. Park and trail construction in the future will depend on funding and community support for such facilities.
The Master Plan is not “set in stone”, it is and must be flexible according to the wishes of the Property Owners, and as always we are appreciative of any input the property owners may have in this planning process.
Parks and Trails in Pagosa Lakes are an amenity that many of our homeowners really appreciate and enjoy; they add value to any community and improve quality of life. Most owners who come from larger communities are probably used to seeing well developed trail systems and regular neighborhood parks. It has been a challenge to develop parks and trails in Pagosa Lakes, not being in an incorporated town or municipality where tax dollars can help fund these types of projects. But, that has not stopped the Board of Directors in their support and desire to see park and trail amenities built in Pagosa Lakes.
In 2002, several trail projects were initiated with the timely help of a Colorado State Trails grant award for the construction of the paved pedestrian and bicycle pathways on North Pagosa Blvd, Park Avenue and Village Drive. In 2009 and 2010 the Lake Forest Circle pedestrian and bicycle pathway was constructed. All told about 3.5 miles of paved pathways have been constructed in Pagosa Lakes for the use of area residents and visitors.
The 1999 Master Plan included recommendations for over 60 miles of future trails to be constructed in Pagosa Lakes, most of which are recommended to be asphalt paved trails. Unfortunately, these paved surface trails have proven to be very expensive and the construction and expansion of the paved trail system has progressed slowly. Finding the funding and resources to construct hard surface trails continues to be a challenge. Natural surface trails are much less expensive to construct. Several natural surface trails exist in the Pagosa Lakes area including a trail that runs along the rim of Dutton Draw and Martinez Canyon and trails around various areas of the five lakes (including a trail that goes all the way around Vista Lake). Future natural surface trails are currently being explored and planned for.
Outdoor park development is another amenity that the board has always supported. In Pagosa Lakes there are several park facilities. At the Recreation Center we have an outdoor children’s playground, an outdoor concrete basketball court, a sand volleyball pit and a covered picnic gazebo. At the Vista Lake area you will find a covered picnic gazebo, interpretive nature signs, a trail that surrounds the lake and an opportunity to observe all sorts of wetland waterfowl and wildlife. Also in Vista a playground was constructed in the 1990’s near Lyn Avenue and Lake Street. In 2008 a lakeside park was constructed on Lake Pagosa that includes a covered picnic gazebo, a parking area, trails and a floating pier. The Association has also been very active in supporting National Forest Access with the recent construction of a parking and trailhead facility at Gate 5 in the Martinez Mountain II Subdivision (National Forest Access maps are available at the office). A future trailhead and parking area is being considered a little farther north on North Pagosa Blvd where the old PAWSD lagoons were. Also of note is the development of the first Community Garden near the Administration Office in Vista. In 2009, a fenced in garden was constructed by the Association that includes 20 raised planting beds, an irrigation system and storage shed. This has proved to be a very popular amenity and is at this time currently at maximum capacity. Expanding the garden or building new gardens at other locations is currently under consideration.
In the fall of 2011 the Board of Directors formed a new standing committee, the Parks, Trails and Outdoor Recreation Committee. It is composed of 5 volunteer property owners who are looking forward to helping the Board develop short and long range goals and objectives for the development of parks and trails in Pagosa Lakes.
The committee met in February to begin work on the planning and recommendation process. The goal of the committee is to work closely with the Board of Directors to develop a new and updated direction for community outdoor amenities and improvements. The Association does have some funding set aside for Parks and Trails and there could be other possibilities including State and federal funding sources that could be tapped into to help, especially with hard surface trail construction which is very expensive. Initial ideas that are being discussed include new natural surface trails in Pagosa Lakes, new National Forest parking and trailhead access improvements, well planned and thought out extensions of the existing hard surface trail systems, improvements to the Vista Lake property and improvements in the outdoor amenities at the Recreation Center. Please stay tuned for updates and informational releases from the committee and also keep in mind that all the meetings are open to the owners; owner input is going to be crucial in this process. Meeting times are posted regularly on this website.
Here in Pagosa Lakes we are blessed to have thousands of acres of National Forest flanking our western and northern boundaries. Many residents enjoy the Turkey Springs area of the National Forest. Turkey Springs, named after a perennial spring located about 2 miles northwest of the Hatcher Lake area, is the name given to this large and expansive forest area to our west and north. Within Turkey Springs are literally hundreds of miles of roads, trails and open areas in a Ponderosa Pine and mixed conifer forest type environment which includes mountains, canyons, hills, creeks and meadows.
Cattle are present in this area throughout the summer and fall under special range land permits through the Forest Service. Along this fence line there are several gates that the Association has installed over the years allowing for access into the National Forest. These gate accesses are for non-motorized access only and connect with the extensive trail system of Turkey Springs. We do have maps of these gates and access locations available at the Office.
The Forest Service is currently in the process of developing an updated “Trail Management Plan” for Turkey Springs which has been a two year process. Trails are being evaluated, categorized and mapped. When the process is complete, trail maps will become available and trail signs installed at key locations making the area even more accessible and navigable. Currently many informal trails exist in Turkey Springs and it is easy to get confused and turned around if you are not real familiar with the area.
Stay tuned for more information on Turkey Springs as this Management Plan progresses and information is released.