Dear Climbers, Runners, Hikers,
As you may know the City of Boulder's Department of Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) has finished its Visitor Master Plan (VMP). Now seven years in the works, this document is a comprehensive plan for the management of our Open Space and Mountain Parks. The VMP has now been forwarded to the City Council for discussion and possible approval.
At this point, the history of the VMP is less important than its impact for people who enjoy the open space and mountain parks for recreation. Here are a few observations about the proposed VMP.
1. The VMP puts all of OSMP land into one of four categories; the map is a complex patchwork that is itself open to debate. But accepting the map as it stands, over 40% of the OSMP land would be in the most highly regulated category (called HCA for Habitat Conservation Area) with rules that are more stringent than current rules. The HCA includes all land west of the high ridges between Chautauqua and Eldorado Canyon, Eldorado Mountain, plus various pockets elsewhere.
2. Within the HCAs the proposed VMP calls for no off-trail travel. All hikers must stay on designated trails (those with official trail signs). It's likely that non-designated social trails will be closed, restricting access to some popular crags and long-standing climbing areas. This alarming development might be acceptable if OSMP planned to build new trails. But that doesn't appear to be the case. In that last 10 years, while OSMP acreage doubled, a total of 7 miles of new trails were built.
3. The will be no access to HCAs at night; no more moonlight hikes up Green Mountain. This policy is both baseless and unenforceable.
4. The maximum group size on all OSMP land will be reduced from 50 to 25 people, without a special permit.
5. The current ban on competitive events will remain. While OSMP needs to have some flexibility to reject or modify requests for inappropriate competitive events, there is no need for a complete ban on all events. The policy prohibits innovative events such as last year's Cardiac Arete, in which runners (up Mt. Sanitas) volunteered time for trail maintenance.
6. Overall, the Open Space Board of Trustees consists of people who don't have much understanding of the importance of recreation for many Boulder citizens. Their policies are exclusionary and their perspective on preservation and recreation is (they admit) skewed. Overall, the priority of the Board is still acquisition of land (which is becoming increasingly scarce and expensive), rather than establishing new trails and maintaining existing trails. I think it's fair to say that the views of many Boulder people have been ignored during the writing of the VMP and are not reflected in the VMP.
It's time to mobilize people who care about open space and mountain parks, who want to see it protected and preserved, but who believe that people should have reasonable access to the public land that they have purchased. Please write to City Council members, email them, or visit with them (see addresses below). Please write letters to the local newspapers. Please forward this message and get others involved in opposing the VMP. If you want to read the VMP, it's at www.ci.boulder.co.us
On December 14 at 6:00 p.m., there will be a study session with both the City Council and Open Space Board of trustees at the Senior Center at 909 Arapahoe. Although the public will not be allowed to speak, try to attend and show support in numbers. The City Council is scheduled to reach a final decision on the VMP in February 2005.
- You can mail letters to City Council members at Office of City Council, P.O. Box 791, Boulder, CO 80306-0791.
- You can fax letters to City Council members at 303-441-3002.
- You can email letters to all City Council members at Council@ci.boulder.co.us.
- City Council members read the Open Forum in the Boulder Daily Camera, so send letters (firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 303-449-0358).
Tom Eldridge, email@example.com, 303-449-8419
Robin Bohannan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-524-9067
Crystal Gray, email@example.com, 303-449-9680
Shaun McGrath, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-304-2165
Gordon Riggle, email@example.com, 303-530-7181
Mark Ruzzin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-417-9798
Andy Shultheiss, email@example.com, 303-440-3321
Jack Stoakes, firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-449-3374
Contact: Buzz Burrell (Boulder Trail Runners, email@example.com), Willie Mein (Flatirons Climbing Council, Willie.Mein@lasp.colorado.edu), Bill Briggs