Category Archives: Trail Study

West TSA

OSMP is in the last phases of the process of planning for the entire Boulder mountain backdrop (all OSMP properties west of Broadway, between Linden Drive on the north and Eldorado Springs Drive on the south). The public process for this trail study area has been different from past TSAs—for the West TSA a citizens’ panel (the Community Collaboration Group, or CCG) was created, comprising representatives from various groups interested in the area, including 5 representatives of various recreation interests, 5 conservation representatives, 3 “neighborhood” representatives, and a few others. The actual representatives were elected by caucuses at a public meeting held in September 2009. Two of the conservation representatives were FOBOS board members, and the second conservation alternate was FOBOS Chair Linda Jourgensen. The CCG was directed to operate under consensus rules (any recommendations had to be unanimous) to produce a set of recommendations to the OSMP department and the Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT).

The CCG has now submitted its recommendations, and these have been accepted unanimously by the Open Space Board of Trustees (1/19/2011). OSMP now is tasked with drafting a complete plan, which must include the CCG recommendations, a number of detailed recommendations that were not considered by the CCG, and some non-consensus items, most notably the issue of whether mountain bikes should be allowed. OSMP’s draft plan is due to be made public on February 1. OSBT is due to consider this plan and act on it on February 9th and 10th. OSMP will then make any changes mandated by the board and the final plan will be acted on by OSBT on February 23.

FOBOS members will be notified by email of important dates and issues, and a newsletter will be sent out following the OSMP draft plan on February 1. After a lengthy two-year process, the final plan will be revealed and acted upon in a very short period.

FOBOS’s positions on the CCG recommendations and on the bicycle issue are detailed in the package submitted to OSBT on 1-17-2011. We welcome comments from members on this position. Feel free to email us at inquiry@friendsofboulderopenspace.org or to any of the board members at their individual emails.

West TSA map
West TSA map

adobe_pdfWest TSA overview

adobe_pdfA consultant has produced a natural resources inventory report.

adobe_pdfFull size West TSA Basemap

adobe_pdfStaff is proposing use of “Targets, Attributes, and Indicators” for developing its plans to manage the area’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources.

Doudy Draw TSA

Doudy Draw Trail & Eldorado Mountain
Doudy Draw Trail & Eldorado Mountain

Eldorado Mountain – Doudy Draw TSA
This TSA proved considerably more contentious than Marshall Mesa. Of greatest concern was the decision to build three new trails and to expand the permissible types of uses of existing and new trails.

The higher elevation portions of this TSA, designated the Eldorado Mountain Habitat Conservation Area, contain large expanses of unusually high quality habitat, including forested areas with very old Ponderosa Pine, riparian areas supported by creeks coming out of the foothills, plateaus with unique plant communities, and open meadows with high quality native grasses. Wildlife is especially diverse and abundant.

A new trail, called the Goshawk trail, will be constructed in the HCA for use by hikers and equestrians. Another permanent trail will be constructed to provide access for climbers to the Mickey Mouse Ears.

Two new trails will be constructed in the adjacent lower elevation area, originally proposed to be included in the habitat conservation area. Dogs, previously prohibited in this area because of its high wildlife values, will be allowed on one of the new trails. Mountain biking, not previously allowed on trails west of Highway 93 will now be allowed on these and all other trails in the area (except Goshawk). As proposed, these trails will badly fragment the habitat in this area.

OSMP decisions to explicitly promote recreational uses at the expense of remaining ecological values in the Eldorado Mountain / Doudy Draw TSA prompted the formation of FOBOS.

Marshall Mesa TSA

Marshall Mesa Trail
Marshall Mesa Trail

Marshall Mesa-Southern Grasslands TSA

This area includes the popular trails off Marshall Road, and is one of the places on city open space lands where mountain bikes have historically been allowed. The area was once actively coal mined, there are two reservoirs and several ditches, the old city dump adjoins it, and the area was overgrazed before it was purchased for open space.

Unfortunately, this TSA was completed without sufficient input from conservation-oriented citizens’ groups. Nonetheless, several good precautionary management decisions resulted from the process. For example, no trails will be constructed in the Rocky Flats subsection of the Southern Grasslands Habitat Conservation Area. A trail is planned in the HCA on the northeast side of Highway 128 with on-trail, on-leash requirements. Given the proximity of the highway this is certainly the most acceptable location for this trail, if it is to be built at all.

A number of improvements were planned to improve visitor access. The extended access to bicycles and the proximity to the growing population of the northwest metro area will rapidly increase pressure on the TSA.

The most troubling trail approved in the Marshall Mesa TSA is the Marshall Lake Trail, which follows the southwest and northwest shores of the lake. OSMP acknowledged these problems, stating in their TSA plan, “With regard to environmental sustainability, the proposed Marshall Lake Trail is anticipated to create impacts that will reduce habitat values.”

To minimize these impacts OSMP proposed the following resource protection measures: 1. All visitors must stay on-trail. 2. Install fencing to ensure on-trail compliance. 3. Collaborate with local organizations, including a rod and gun club and FRICO, to protect habitat and water quality.

FOBOS believes that proper monitoring and acquisition of baseline data are critical for achievement of the stated management goals. Unfortunately to date there has been no monitoring of the nesting bald eagles, and no potential nesting raptor closures have been considered. We have observed trail maintenance problems associated with extensive mountain bike usage, problems with bike/hiker conflicts, problems with uncontrolled dogs, and problems with horse use off designated trails. These issues raise concerns for what to anticipate in the Doudy Draw area.

FOBOS Members Join WRV for Social Trail Restoration

Mary McQuiston and others on FOBOS trail project
Mary McQuiston and others on FOBOS trail project

There are several hundred miles of trails on city open space not developed by OSMP and not maintained as part of the designated trail system. Some of these “social” trails are being closed and the land restored as part of the trail study area process.

Joe Mantione working Spring Brook
Joe Mantione working Spring Brook

On Saturday, April 19th FOBOS’ members spent the day helping to restore undesignated trails that had developed in the Doudy Draw area. One of the trails went through sensitive riparian lands immediately adjacent to Spring Brook. The other went up a steep hillside above Lindsay Pond.

macdonnell_trail_restoration
Larry MacDonnell

The process involved roughing the surface of dirt, sprinkling seeds of native grasses and plants, and covering the seeded dirt with dead grasses raked from adjacent lands. Fences were built to discourage travel into the areas, and signs were posted explaining what had been done.

WIldlands Restoration Volunteers
WIldlands Restoration Volunteers

The project was organized by Wildlands Restoration Volunteers. This remarkable nonprofit organizes volunteers to participate in land and water restoration activities in Boulder County and beyond.