Category Archives: Parks and Open Space

NoBo Prairie Dog Relocation: Mountain or Mole Hill? (07/23/2016)

I would much have preferred to see artists instead of prairie dogs living on the North Boulder Armory site, but it now appears inevitable we will have neither. More’s the pity. It is surprising how often unintended consequences cause Boulder’s well-intentioned policies to run aground. Land owners have been willing to launder and relocate prairie dogs in the past, but we seem to have run out of “receiving sites.” State law prohibits us from transporting such critters, washed or unwashed, across county lines, absent permission from both counties.

Whatever. Let’s not make a mountain out of these mole hills (pardon the pun; blame our editor). The North Boulder Armory site is not critical wildlife habitat. When it was active, there were few interlopers, rodents or otherwise, but the site has been inactive for so long that the small mammals moved in, uninvited. A “plan” for their removal or relocation is required. The options are few. Waiting for nature to take its course, via plague or predator, is not one of them. Humane capture and donation to a raptor rescue or other wildlife recovery program seems the most likely scenario.

But what is to become of North Boulder’s artists? They’re hard to capture, let alone relocate. The original Armory plan was well-received by Planning Board and many neighbors, rare enough these days, but it foundered when city planners determined the project would have provided too few community benefits. Utter nonsense.

Open Space Tax Extension 2013

May 11, 2013

Will there ever come a time when the City will finally declare victory concerning the open space acquisition program? If we are able to complete the right-of-way acquisitions, if any, needed to complete a bicycle trail circumnavigation of Boulder, may we conclude that success has been achieved?
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Boulder’s Big Events

May 4, 2013

There may have been times when big events caused more of a drain on Boulder’s service providers than could be offset by sales tax revenues attributable to visitors attracted by them, but event sponsors and the City have learned from the mistakes and successes in our past. We have also learned how to more effectively protect our natural resources while deriving greater economic benefit from the visitors and residents who enjoy such events.
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Water Shortages in 2013

April 6, 2013

Shortly after the first settlers arrived in Colorado, water started flowing towards money. In many ways, it was a brilliant scheme for a region west of the 100th meridian, where long periods of drought are to be expected. The people who contributed their sweat and toil to divert water that would otherwise rush unimpeded to the Arkansas, Colorado and Missouri rivers, derived profit from their labor. 150 years later, we struggle with the monetization of this critical human resource, but the concept of “highest and best use,” coupled with capital markets that flex enough to reward efficiency, may yet save the day.
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Boulder’s Civic Area Plan

June 30, 2012

In 1905, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., graced Boulder with a city master plan that included parks and open spaces for the first time. He suggested further that the Boulder Creek flood plain be preserved as parkland. Now it is the heart of our civic center. The civic area plan will determine the appropriate mix and location of uses downtown near our Creek.
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Chautauqua Parking Test Program

April 21, 2012

The beatings will continue until morale improves — or should I say, parking tickets will be issued until we leave our cars at home. Motor vehicles are considered a suspect class in Boulder, so driving disincentives abound. However, our land use patterns require most people to drive almost everywhere to do almost anything.
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Open Space Fees: Pay to Play?

June 18, 2011

The irony is that Boulder’s open space and mountain parks (OS&MP) were purchased, for the most part, twenty or more years ago, back when the City of Boulder was the northwest metro area’s regional shopping center. The sales taxes came from the pockets of many people, not simply the residents of Boulder. In fact, during the past couple of decades, many residents of Boulder moved further east, so their former sales tax dollars also contributed to the acquisition of Boulder’s OS&MP. If a determination of who owns Boulder’s park lands is based upon who paid for it, the answer is decidedly complex.

There is, however, the question of ongoing maintenance and operational expenses. They are substantial enough that non-resident parking fees, presuming they are paid, and can, in fact, be collected for a “profit,” pale by comparison. Protecting Boulder’s OS&MP from the teeming masses who love them is not cheap.

Our “wilderness” interface is a resource protection nightmare, a behavioral challenge, and an educational opportunity. Colorado’s ski industry has learned to harden the first couple of miles of trails leading from the top of their chairlifts, and they’ve installed interactive educational exhibits, so that summer visitors won’t inadvertently, irrevocably harm the fragile alpine ecosystems they’ve often traveled thousands of miles to see. Boulder must do the same. User fees should flow directly to OS&MP operational expenses. If earmarked, everyone should pay them (including residents, voluntarily). Wisely used, the future of OS&MP may depend on them. “Pay to play” makes sense.

OSMP West TSA Process

February 12, 2011

This is a tough one, made exceedingly tougher by procedures that encourage organizations to be formed to “fight” for members with bikes, dogs, walking shoes or an abiding love for woodland creatures. Instead of discussing how to balance all these legitimate interests, we seem to have orchestrated a demolition derby where everyone sustains damage and no one emerges as a “winner.”

Perhaps, the perception of carnage is derived from the interest group representing organizations whose institutional purpose may be better-served by crying “foul” than by a willingness to compromise. However, another possibility is that our open space decision-making process has historically demonstrated a tendency to respond to the loudest or last voices heard. It may be that the loudest and last voices heard fully and accurately represent majority viewpoints in our fair city and, despite the fact full-throated democracy is a contact sport, our past decisions got it right in the end. If so, there is no escaping these master plan update soul-searching, mind-numbing, patience-testing forays.

I wonder, though, how much of the heat is generated by managing public access to our open space so as to prevent the harm done by 5% of the users who don’t seem to have a clue – whether on foot, with dog, or on a bike – concerning how to behave in mixed company. We should manage for the 95% and, whether due to ignorance or a conscious disregard for the experiences sought by others, develop effective ways to educate or banish the rest.