My connection to open space
Boulder's open space preservation is one of the city's most unique and progressive visions. Growing up in Missouri, I lived in a region that continued to grow year-after-year beyond the bounds of the city, with seemingly no end in sight. Few natural lands were preserved near where people lived and many felt separated from the forests and rivers that previous generations had thrived on. As someone who was drawn to Colorado to be with nature by hiking and riding bikes, I have a huge appreciation for preserving land to protect the environment, enable public use, and preventing sprawl beyond the city's growth boundary.
Protecting Open Space Program
As part of the environmental movement, we shouldn't think our job is done in open space. I support continuing to fund the open space program to preserve existing land and minimize impacts on flora and fauna. Use of our trails has effects on both plants and wildlife so we must be diligent to keep studying impacts and evaluating solutions, ranging from expanding a dog waste composting program and occasional trail closures to protect sensitive habitats. To help protect existing land, we can also make new targeted acquisitions and regional connections to dilute the impacts on our open space, and to invest more heavily in management and sustainable recreation.
Acquisitions and connections
The success of the open space acquisition program has preserved over 45 thousand of acres of land in Boulder, meaning that additional acquisitions are often smaller and more strategic. We need to continue to make open space acquisitions to preserve vulnerable land, improve connections between existing open space and through the region, and ease the impacts of recreation on our current system. While some parcels of land are small and more expensive, further connecting the system is critical to reduce the burden on trails closer to the city and to create more trails that are accessible without having to drive.
Proactive strategy for recreation
When John Muir sought to protect the Sierras, he started a hiking club—the Sierra Club—to get people into those mountains so they could see and feel the wonders of nature. Although recreation causes impacts, John knew that experiencing nature is essential to public support for preserving nature and open space. I love our open space, and I believe we should embrace John Muir’s wisdom by making sure people can enjoy wild places, fall in love with them as I have, and commit to protecting them.
As Colorado and the region continue to grow, Boulder faces increased demand for use of its open space and trail systems. Our open space system wasn't designed for the amount of use that trails see today, both in construction quality and the amount of trails available for various uses. In order to manage that growth, we need to finish the open space master plan to be proactive both for our current maintenance backlog and to plan for the future to create a system that is sustainable. We need to push for leadership to own the recreational benefits and impacts on the system, and to better balance all users—hikers, runners, and families with dogs.