Almost 200 hikers, bikers and dog walkers signed up to speak at Wednesday night’s Boulder City Council meeting.
Community members filled Boulder High School to voice their opinions about the West Trail Study Area for the last time before City Council has their final deliberation on March 30.
“This is a very important issue,” former mayor and current chair of Friends of Boulder Open Space Linda Jourgensen said. “It’s almost 11,500 acres and receives 40 percent of all visitors. People want to have quiet enjoyment, walk with their dogs, ride their mountain bikes.”
In 2005, the Boulder County Open Space and Mountain Parks staff created the Visitor Master Plan to examine 45,000 acres of public lands.
The plans separated the land into four separate areas and were created to describe the strategies to protect natural and cultural resources and deliver a high quality visitor experience and sustainable trail system.
OSMP staff and members of the Community Collaborative Group studied the West TSA for over 18 months. This area is comprised of 11,250 acres from Linden to Eldorado Springs Drive and is one of the most popular trail areas in the city.
The West TSA plan attempts to figure out what is best for the 78 miles of trails and 58 miles of undesignated trails. The final plan will be implemented over the next 7 to 10 years and will cost approximately $5.85 million.
The CCG recommended everything except the mountain bike part of the proposal and did not include any more dog opportunities.
Those were the very issues people lined up to discuss.
“I don’t know who’s hated more – bikers or dog people,” Rex Headd said. “I’ve heard horror stories.”
Headd wants more mountain biking opportunities. At the very least, he wants a North-South connector so bikers don’t have to use the highway to get from one point to another.
“We spend all our time driving to Lyons or Golden,” Headd said. “We just want somewhere in Boulder we don’t have to take the highway to get to.”
At the meeting, environmentalists and recreationalists seemed at odds with each other.
Many mountain bike supporters suggested that open space should be just that – open. They believed that no one should have exclusive access and that their environmental impact is minimal, citing other cities as examples.
However, those against mountain bikes also brought up cities in which multi-use trails are problematic both to users and to the environment. They mentioned that the habitat and wildlife don’t have a voice, and that the CCG had worked to protect them.
Will Eisenberg believes the Council should respect the CCG’s recommendations and honor the long process that brought them to their conclusions. At the end of the day, he says he wants what is in the best interest of the land.
“I feel I don’t have a right to open space,” Eisenberg said. “It is a privilege.”