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Incline bill headed to Obama's desk
Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate late Sunday approved a bill that clarifies the legal status of the Manitou Incline.
Sen. Michael Bennet pushed the bill in the Senate and Rep. Doug Lamborn led the effort in the House, where the bill passed in July.
The legislation addresses a right-of-way issue with the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Co., and allows the U.S. Forest Service to accept the railway's relinquishment of its right-of-way of the old railway bed that has become a popular hiking trail.
“The passage of this bill formalizes what hundreds of Coloradans already know – how incredibly challenging yet beautiful the Manitou Incline hike is," Bennet said.
"The ‘vertical mile’ is a source of great local pride for residents of Manitou and Colorado Springs, and I’m glad that we can finally make it official.
"Now hikers can take advantage of this unique trail in a safe manner, and no longer be considered trespassers. This bill preserves the trail for generations to come. Representative Lamborn has been a strong advocate for the Manitou Incline, and I appreciate his leadership in the House of Representatives to help pass this bill.”
“The Manitou Incline Hiking Trail is a gem the people of Colorado have treasured for many years. This legislation will finally remove a century-old legal cloud that has been hanging over a portion of the popular hiking trail,” Lamborn said. “Hikers will soon be able to use it confidently knowing that the trail's safety and beauty will be protected. The legislation will ensure that the Forest Service can professionally manage and maintain the trail. The Manitou Incline is one of the most spectacular hiking trails in the country and valued by locals and tourists alike.
“I am very appreciative of Senator Bennet for his work in the Senate to preserve and protect this spectacular trail,” added Lamborn. “Additionally, I thank Kyle Hybl and Spencer Wren of the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Company for their leadership on this issue.”
The cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs had already agreed to manage and maintain the hiking trail, which begins at the top of Ruxton Avenue on the west side of Manitou.
The Incline Friends group also has been instrumental in garnering community support for the legalization effort and for organizing volunteer efforts to stabilize some portions of the trail, closing old, unsustainable social trails, installing signage and fencing, and providing regular clean-up of the trail and trailhead.