News

Help (Re)Open Joder Ranch!

Please come to the next meeting of the Open Space Board of Trustees and speak in support of opening this wonderful property with more trails!

Wednesday December 10, 2014
Boulder City Council Chambers (Municipal Building)
Broadway & Canyon, 2nd Floor

The Boulder Area Trails Coalition (BATCO) supports a more equitable outcome for public access to the Joder Arabian Ranch than the proposal put forth by Staff at the November 12,2014, OSBT meeting. We were pleased to note that the Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) directed Staff to come back to them with more options for trails utilizing existing trails and parking facilities for discussion at the December 10 OSBT meeting.

We have the following observations and recommendations:

1) Joder Ranch should be reclassified as a Passive Recreation Area or a Natural Area; it should not have been designated a Habitat Conservation Area (HCA). This property has been a working ranch and an active equestrian center for more than 60 years. There are already more than eight miles of trails on it, with extensive infrastructure including several homes, barns, outbuildings, horse corrals, indoor and outdoor arenas, a cross-country jumping course, and a ropes/obstacle course. At its peak it was home to more than 90 horses, with a breeding operation, horse boarding, lessons, clinics, and more. The long-abandoned Boulder, Left Hand and Middle Park Railroad project dates to the 1880’s and includes a well-excavated railroad cut though the ridge near one of the homes. The Joder Ranch is not pristine wilderness! Its current HCA designation was inserted quietly in the acquisition package in 2013 by staff. Members of the OSBT have expressed concern that they were not aware of the clause and that there was no public process behind it. Staff’s desultory explanation was that it is an HCA because it is contiguous to another parcel that is an HCA. We fnd that explanation unsatisfactory.

2) Joder Ranch should be reopened to the public immediately, not postponed indefnitely as part of the North TSA. The explicit intent of the Joder family regarding the sale of several parcels to the City of Boulder OSMP and Boulder County Parks & Open Space was that the parcels would be used for trails, public access, and parking adequate for horse trailers (see attached memoranda; also please review the testimony of Dan Joder at the November12 meeting – his direction to you could not have been more clear that the family intends for there to be meaningful public access to his family’s ranch).

The Conservation easement specifcally allowed horses on the property and the fee acquisition should do the same. It has been more than 23 years since the frst parcels were acquired and we have been asking politely for the commitments made therein to be honored ever since then. Now is the time to do it! We do not accept the proposed tradeoff of opening a single trail across the property now in exchange for undergoing the full-blown process entailed by its inclusion in the North TSA, which could be several years away.

3) OSMP should develop and designate trails and supporting parking on the Joder Ranch immediately. The trail system should include the multi-use east-west trail proposed in the November 12, 2014 memo, which would allow mountain bikers to make an off-road short cut from Highway 36 to Left Hand Canyon Drive. However, pedestrians and equestrians would have no safe way of accessing that trail without crossing busy highways and, as a one-mile trail, it would be meaningless to them. Therefore, we support an additional trail on the Joder I acquisition, connecting around the southern boundary of the property to the Six Mile Fold acquisition, for pedestrians and equestrians only (the terrain along this alignment is unsuitable for mountain bike use). This would allow for a several mile loop trail for pedestrians and equestrians that would provide much more value. There should be a designated parking area either contiguous to the Six Mile Fold or on the disturbed site of the now demolished barns at the old ranch complex.

4) Joder Ranch should be considered the nexus of future trail planning west of Highway 36. There are signifcant existing trails south of Joder that should be used to connect with the old railroad grade south of the McGuckin warehouse complex as well as north on the Buckingham property to Heil Valley Ranch. The most important trail system across Joder should result in a regional north-south alignment and help us move in the direction of a multi-use foothills trail that connects Boulder and Lyons. We are willing to wait until the North TSA process to further discuss this potential.

5) Wildlife on the Joder Ranch will be suitably protected by the above plan. Joder Ranch has been home to various species of wildlife and plants, all of which lived compatibly with the myriad human activities described above for decades. The only species of concern that staff identifed at the November 12 meeting was a butterfly. There is no reason to think the butterfly would do anything but thrive with a few public trails.

Please click here to write an email to the Open Space Board of Trustees and the Boulder City Council supporting the BATCO recommendations by December 6 if possible, so the OSBT will be able to consider your thoughts before the meeting.  Thanks!

Here’s a map of the way our trail proposal would look:

BATCO Joder Map

Boulder County Parks & Open Space Stewardship Recognition

 

Chris M BCPOS Stewardship Photo

October 16, 2014.  BATCO Board Member Chris Morrison receives a photo acknowledging our volunteer support on Boulder County Parks & Open Space trail projects. BATCO has received this recognition annually since 2008, the inception of the BCPOS Stewardship Program.

Trail Volunteers Needed

PWV North Fork 28 and 29th-1

Last (we hope) Planning Commission meeting on Rights of Nature

The Planning Commission meeting on the Rights of Nature Wednesday June 18 will, we hope, be a non-event.  Public testimony will not be taken, but I plan to be at the meeting anyway (est. time mid-afternoon) just to see how it plays out.

Staff has wordsmithed this issue to death, resulting in the following proposed language to be inserted into the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan Environmental Resources Element:

“Acknowledging our responsibility to ensure that naturally-occurring ecosystems and their native species populations continue to exist and flourish in Boulder County, Boulder County will develop conservation and recovery plans for priority Species of Special Concern.”

As far as we’re concerned, Boulder County is already doing that, so this merely makes it official.  The media will continue to get it all wrong as they have done since the beginning.  The RON people may crow about their success, but I support the final wording because it eliminates the “rights of nature” language and gets rid of an “all” in the original document that would have been impossible to implement.

I’d say we did very well in the end, but it represented a lot of kerfuffle and wasted time.

Now, I hope we can put it behind us and move on.

S

 

Celebrate National Trails Day at Hall Ranch on June 7

The Hall Ranch Trails need some TLC! Volunteers will use hand tools to re-route worn-out sections of the trail while closing down the old trail. The goal is to create a trail that will stand up to heavy use and all kinds of weather. A light breakfast will be provided before we get to work. This project will run from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm. Minimum age is 14 with adult supervision. To register please visit www.BoulderCountyOpen Space/wildwork or contact Fletcher Jacobs at 303-678-6344 or fjacobs@bouldercounty.org

And just think, you’ll be joining over a million other volunteers all over the country who will be giving back to our public lands and trails.

Be sure to tell ‘em you’re with BATCO!