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.