EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - A local treasure devastated by last summer's fire reopened Friday. The U.S. Forest Service opened 40 percent of the Pike National Forest burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire.
The reopened area included Rampart Reservoir and the Rampart Reservoir Trail as well as the picnic areas and campgrounds near the reservoir. The road across the reservoir's dam remained closed.
The fire took away Barbara Ket's favorite fishing hole.
"We were so disappointed, devastated by the fire," said Ket.
She had the day off on Friday so she and her husband grabbed their poles and headed to the reservoir. They were some of its first visitors. They didn't know what to expect on their first trip.
"I'm looking forward to the hike to see all the changes," said Ket. "We haven't seen it yet."
Jacob Nicholson wasn't just happy to see the fish biting; he had expected to see more devastation.
"I'm glad to see they saved most of the forest around it. It isn't as bad ad I thought it would be," said Nicholson.
The U.S. Forest Service kept a large portion of the burn scar closed to visitors. It cited dangerous conditions in the wake of the fire that made the area unsafe to visitors.
"As you walk into the burn itself you still have trees burned halfway up that are ready to break. Any wind event could have trees down on top of you," said U.S. Forest Service Forest Technician Rick Ellsworth. "If you're in a low area you have to watch out for the flooding."
Ellsworth said that is also a concern in the area that re-opened. Crews only cleared debris and potentially hazardous trees along trail systems and roads.
The U.S. Forest Service will re-evaluate conditions after the area sees its first major rain. Ellsworth said they will assess the area continuously to determine if more areas can be opened to the public.
Colorado Springs Utilities isn't allowing motorized boats on the reservoir at this time because water levels are too low in the reservoir. However, hand-launched boats with small electric motors are allowed. It said it doesn't think water levels will increase enough to open the reservoir to motorized boats this summer.
In meantime, Kets was happy to be back at the reservoir.
"I don't care if I catch a fish or not, as long as I'm just out here enjoying the outdoors," said Ket.