Boulder's Open Space & Mountain Parks
Department Information and History
Boulder's Open Space & Mountain Parks are a very special place. The lands teem with native plants and wildlife and are home to threatened and endangered species. They serve as a buffer between Boulder and nearby development. They sustain agriculture uses and add untold benefits to the natural environment - clean air, water, and earth.
The lands shape the urban mosaic of the Boulder Valley and provide citizens with passive recreation opportunities. Trails are used by walkers, hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, dog walkers and other passive recreational uses.
Some Facts About Boulder's Open Space & Mountain Parks
What: Over 45,000 acres of land has been preserved and protected. Wildlife habitat, unique geologic features, greenways and 146 miles of trails are all part of Open Space & Mountain Parks.
When: Open Space preservation began in 1898 – see the full history below!
Where: Boulder's Open Space & Mountain Parks form a buffer around the city, helping to establish its own, separate identity from neighboring communities. Agricultural lands along the Boulder/Denver Turnpike and the Diagonal Highway provide a scenic entry into Boulder. Mountain backdrop and riparian greenways are also part of OSMP. The system forms the framework within which development occurs in the Boulder Valley.
How: Through sales tax revenues, bond issues, private donations and development dedications. Acquisitions are approved by the Open Space Board of Trustees and City Council with opportunity for public input.
Why: To preserve land for scenic, agricultural and buffer value.
Who: You! The people of Boulder, by their support of Open Space & Mountain Parks for over a century.
The OSMP program is the product of a long history of actions taken by the citizens of Boulder to preserve buffer areas, natural areas, and the mountain backdrop.
Innovation at the Grassroots - Land Preservation History:
Photo - Batchelder Ranch prior to 1898. Note the entrance to Gregory Canyon behind the windmill. The Batchelder ranch house still stands next to the fountain garden at Chautauqua.
Photo - Orange Arnica in bloom on Enchanted Mesa, which almost became the site of a luxury hotel in 1964.
Image - Original 1967 poster for Greenbelts campaign.
The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, adopted by the city and county in 1978, recognizes open space as providing the basic structure for the Plan.
Two Agencies Merge
In January 2001, the City of Boulder Mountain Parks Division—under the Department of Parks and Recreation—and the Open Space/Real Estate Department merged to form one new department to manage the city’s wild recreational lands, Open Space and Mountain Parks. The merger allowed the new department to provide a more consistent range of visitor opportunities and regulations on the ground, save money by eliminating some duplication, and bring the 6,555 acres of Mountain Parks lands—including Boulder’s signature Flatirons—under the strict protections of the Open Space Charter.
Today, Boulder citizens enjoy over 45,000 acres of city open space land in and around the city. Some of the land is in agricultural production, preserving the historic cultural landscape of Boulder County while keeping the land open for wildlife and passive recreational uses. In addition to the aesthetic pleasure of Boulder's Open Space & Mountain Parks, an extensive trail system is available for hikers and horseback riders. Bicyclists enjoy riding on designated trails. Picnicking and fishing areas also appeal to area residents, as well as a variety of free educational programs conducted by OSMP staff and volunteers.
With annual visitation of 5.3 million per year, maintenance is becoming increasingly important to preserve the quality of Boulder's Open Space & Mountain Parks.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:09