Category Archives: News

Help Boulder County Repair Trails at Heil Valley Ranch – October 9

SAVE THE DATE!   October 9, 2021

Boulder County Parks and Open Space has been making some progress cleaning up Heil Valley Ranch after the Calwood Fire.  They had hoped to be able to re-open the south of the Park this fall, but unfortunately will not be able to meet that goal until spring of 2022.  However, volunteers can help accelerate the project.

Help BATCO get it done!

What: The work will entail removal of vegetation overgrowth, moving slash/trees along the trail corridor to keep the trail from widening, and redefining sections of trail that have seen sediment deposition from storms.

The work will be moderately strenuous and will include the use of hand tools such as McLeods, pick mattocks, rakes, and shovels.  (However, you can do as much hard work or as little as you like!)

When: Saturday, October 9
            Meeting time: 8:00am        Project End time: 12:00 pm

Where:  We will provide more detailed location information as we approach the date

RSVP: Chris Morrison

Weather: Weather in Colorado is unpredictable at any time of year.  It is important that you bring warm and waterproof clothing that you can work in, as we will try to complete the work even in slightly inclement weather (cold temps, light rain/snow).  

What You Should Bring
Water bottle and water
Sturdy shoes/boots – no sandals please
Pants – recommended
Work gloves (if you have a special pair) otherwise we will provide them
Layers of clothes
Rain gear
Backpack – for carrying clothing, food, etc.
Binoculars or camera (optional)

We Will Provide:
Work gloves
Extra Water
First aid kit
All necessary tools

Thanks in advance for volunteering with BATCO and Boulder County Parks & Open Space!

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Hiking With A GPS? Mountain Rescuers Who Might Have To Find You Say, ‘Get A Map!’

This article is from the program “Here and Now” on NPR on August 17, 2021. You can alleviate your app woes by ordering the BATCO map here.

by Robin Young and Camila Beiner

Wesley Trimble of the American Hiking Society on a hike. (Courtesy of Wesley Trimble)
Wesley Trimble of the American Hiking Society on a hike. (Courtesy of Wesley Trimble)

If you’re planning to hike this summer, experts say to consider bringing a paper map. That’s because hiking organizations and rescuers around the country are seeing an increase in injuries and rescues.

One of the reasons for the additional mayhem on the trails is sheer numbers. Hikers logging treks into the popular AllTrails website increased by 171% in 2020.

The other reason though is the one causing concern: More people are relying on GPS programs — like Google Maps — for directions.

One problem with using these apps is unreliable data, says Wesley Trimble with the American Hiking Society.

“Most trail applications out there use a variety of base layer maps,” Trimble says. “These layers are crowdsourced a lot of times, and then people upload GPS tracks of places that they’ve been when there’s really no way to verify whether or not those uploaded tracks are on designated trails.”

More reliable maps can be found on National Park Service applications. Though these can still be downloaded, the trails are verified. But because cell phones can lose reception, or end up wet, dropped, or damaged, these should be used in combination with paper maps or printed before the hikers depart.

Another issue with cell phone reliance is the small screen, which makes it difficult for hikers to understand their larger environment. One New Hampshire rescuer explains that the small screen also makes it difficult for rescuers to find lost hikers since the hikers can’t see enough territory to describe where they are.

Wesley Trimble of the American Hiking Society on a hike. (Courtesy of Wesley Trimble)
Wesley Trimble of the American Hiking Society on a hike. (Courtesy of Wesley Trimble)

And Trimble, an avid hiker, has also had his share of personal experiences using GPS directions — including ending up on nonexistent trails.

“I was checking out trails and I had been on two sections of trail before,” he says. “When I was using one of these trail apps, it said there was a connection between them but when I got to where they said these two trails connected, there was absolutely no trail connection.”

The person who uploaded the information, he says, hiked up a 35-degree slope which could have led other hikers to fall. Ascending that type of slope with no trail can also create erosion and destroy fragile ecosystems.

On another occasion, Trimble realized the map he thought he’d downloaded wasn’t there at all.

“I was pretty positive I had downloaded the map before I left cellphone reception,” Trimble says. “Then when I was on the hike and pulled the app up… there was no data or map saved so luckily I was able to rely on a print version.”

The best way to stay safe on trails is to use multiple sources for directions, he says. People can talk to locals in the area, outdoor retailers or the park visitors centers.

In addition to paper maps, the American Hiking Society recommends compasses. But there’s a caveat: People need the skills to use the device properly, Trimble says.

New Hampshire rescue and trail conservation workers say they’ve been busy this summer, reporting about one GPS-user rescue a week.

Still, Trimble says that with a few simple precautions hiking can be safe and enjoyable. He cites an Outdoor Foundation report that says there was an increase of more than 7 million people on the trails from 2019 to 2020 as a good thing.

“The more people who are connected to these special places, the more people who value those spaces that want to advocate and protect those places,” Trimble says. “But it also does mean that there’s an added impact.”

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Reservation system will open soon for Mount Evans and Brainard Lake

Mount Evans slated to open June 4, Brainard June 11

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (May 25, 2021) – Visitors to Mount Evans and Brainard Lake, two popular locations on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, will be required to make reservations through this season. Visitors can preview the reservation sites now and are encouraged to establish a account in advance.

Mount Evans Recreation Area is tentatively scheduled to open June 4, weather dependent. Reservations for Mount Evans can be made on starting June 2 and reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance.

Brainard Lake Recreation Area is tentatively scheduled to open June 11, weather dependent. The upper elevations lots typically open in early July. Reservations for Brainard Lake can be made on starting May 27 and can be made up to 14 days in advance.

“Our goal is to reduce crowding and improve the overall experience, which will also benefit the wildlife, like mountain goats, that call Mount Evans home,” said Reid Armstrong, public affairs specialist with the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. “It will take some advance planning, and visitors will need to make some extra time to learn about the areas and secure a reservation. We also recommend that before heading out, check the forests Know Before You Go page for all the latest updates and alerts.”

These two iconic locations are among the Forests’ most visited recreation areas, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. The reservation system is aimed at reducing wait times, lines, and crowding at these areas’ welcome stations, visitors’ centers, and attractions. Dispersing visitors across the days and weeks will reduce impacts on wildlife and improve available parking. The new system should reduce crowding, allowing for proper social distancing and creating a more enjoyable and safer outdoor experience.

Mount Evans Recreation Area features the highest paved road in North America, which leads to the summit one of Colorado’s famous 14ers. Along the way are stops that offer glances into life in the high alpine environment, including Mount Goliath and its demonstration garden managed by Denver Botanic Gardens. Mount Evans is managed in partnership with Colorado Department of Transportation, which oversees the road, and Denver Mountain Parks, which runs Summit Lake Park. CDOT maintenance crews started plowing the highway on May 17, and crews will work into early June clearing snow along the highway from the gates at Echo Mount Lake Lodge to the summit of Mount Evans.

Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a portal to Indian Peaks Wilderness Area with hiking trails that lead into some of the area’s most rugged, high alpine terrain. The lake itself offers opportunities to picnic, fish and view wildlife within the stunning backdrop of the Continental Divide. The general area is open year-round but in the summer is managed by American Lands and Leisure, a private concessionaire contracted to provide daily maintenance and operations. Visitors with a campground reservation at Pawnee Campground will not need an additional reservation.

At each location, visitors will be able to select a reservation time slot from multiple windows throughout the day and decide on details about where they want to go (e.g. which parking area at Brainard and which sites on Mount Evans). While the base costs will not change, customers will be charged a $2 reservation fee by Reservations are not required for biking and hiking into these areas. Annual and lifetime passholders will still need to make reservations and will only pay the $2 reservation fee. People who arrive without a reservation will need to return to a place where they can get a cell phone signal to secure a timed entry ticket.

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Good News At Heil Valley Ranch

Two More Trails Are now open at Heil Valley Ranch after the CalWood Fire. The north side of Wild Turkey Trail and the Ponderosa Loop are open; the Picture Rock Trail re-opened on Friday, Dec. 4. 

This area is open to on-trail use only. We ask that all visitors be respectful of the remaining closures due to safety hazards in the burn areas.The area remains fragile and will be subject to muddy trail closures, particularly after snow storms. Please adhere to all rules and regulations to prevent: Trail widening and plant damage by visitors walking around muddy trail areas. While we understand visitors may need to temporarily step off trail to maintain physical distance, we strongly encourage everyone to wear a mask and quickly pass other visitors in the trail corridor. If you must step off the trail, please step onto a rock or a bare spot to let others pass, then step back on the trail. Please avoid stepping on vegetation. Disturbances to sensitive habitat areas from visitors illegally entering wildlife closures and other sensitive areas closed to the public. People in wildlife closures and other sensitive closed areas can cause significant disturbances to local wildlife. While recreation is an essential component of our open space program, wildlife habitat protection is also a critical function.

Please remember that COVID-19 precautions are still extremely important. Getting outside for fresh air and exercise is highly recommended by Boulder County Public Health, but precautions are necessary. It’s important to follow careful guidelines as increasing numbers of residents visit open space trails: DON’T visit if you’re sick! Stay home and help protect others. You must have a face covering with you and cover your mouth and nose when maintaining a 6-foot distance from others is not possible. All trails remain extremely busy. If a parking area is full, move on to another park or trailhead. Plan your visit carefully. Know your limits and the county Rules & Regulations while on the trail. Don’t put first responders and medical personnel at risk.

Please stay informed. Heil Valley Ranch will be in recovery for many months, and trails may need to close for restoration efforts. Check before your visit for up-to-date information for possible visitor restrictions or closures in response to trail and park conditions.For the latest county updates and guidelines on how to manage COVID-19, please visit
Trail Map of Open areas
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The Time is Nigh for the UPRR / RTD Rail Regional Trail !

Ta Da!!!  It’s been a long time coming, but with your help we may soon have an amazing new trail extending more than 9 miles between Boulder and Erie!

BATCO identified this trail alignment waaaay back in 1996 and we have been carrying it as one of our “Top 10 Trail Projects” ever since.  It would utilize the former Union Pacific Railroad bed and would connect several favorite trails such as Walden/Sawhill Ponds, the East Boulder Trail at Gunbarrel (which in turn may someday be part of the Trail Around Boulder), and a network of trails in the Town of Erie. Boulder County and several partner agencies have been working diligently on this project since 2003.

NOW is the time for all non-motorized trail advocates to support this exciting opportunity!  Please open the following link and familiarize yourself with the project:  Write the Regional Trails Planner Tonya Luebbert at by August 31.  There are also a few opportunities to join a virtual townhall on Aug 26 and 27.

That’s less than two weeks to get your voice heard! GO!

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Vote to Make the Boulder City Council Trail-Friendly!

Every trail, every management plan, all the funding to do maintenance or buy parcels to allow for a regional trail – all of these things come down to votes made by people we elect. So, it’s very important to elect people who will support recreation and access to public lands!  And now, it’s time to elect new members of the Boulder City Council.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, BATCO can’t endorse candidates. However, we are a member of the Boulder Public Lands Coalition (BPLC) which has sent a questionnaire about Open Space and recreation to all Boulder City Council candidates. Ten of the candidates responded;  please read their responses here.

We urge you to do some research and VOTE!

You can still register to vote and vote in person up to Nov 5.

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A couple of scenes from the Grindstone Quarry Trail Opening, Heil Valley Ranch, Oct 9, 2019

Chris Morrison, Kiowa, and Suzanne Webel at the new trailhead

Gail Matheson and Lucky, Suzanne Webel and Kiowa on the section of trail BATCO built.

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Heil Valley Ranch Corral Trailhead and new trails grand opening celebration

Boulder County, Colo. – Boulder County Board of Commissioners and Parks & Open Space staff will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Heil Valley Ranch, located northwest of Boulder. Staff will be celebrating the completion of the Corral trailhead and connected trails, as well as the opening of the brand new Grindstone Quarry trail, an equestrian parking lot, and the restored historical Altona School.

What: Ribbon-cutting ceremony for Corral Trailhead and new trails
When: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 4 p.m.
Where: Heil Valley Ranch Corral Trailhead, 250 Geer Canyon Rd.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the event, enjoy the new trails, and explore the one-room schoolhouse. Staff will be on hand to talk about the new additions and improvements.

BATCO has been actively involved in developing this new trail system, including organizing several trail work days and donating a substantial sum toward the new equestrian parking lot from revenues on the sales of our Trails and Recreation Map of Boulder County.

The new trails bring the trail miles at Heil Valley Ranch to 19.5 and Heil Valley Ranch now comprises just over 6,230 acres. Because of sensitive wildlife habitat at Heil Valley Ranch, dogs are not permitted.  The Grindstone Quarry Trail (east side of the valley) is a pedestrian/equestrian-only trail.

For more information about Heil Valley Ranch and directions, go to


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City Council Accepts and Adopts OSMP Master Plan

On September 3, 2019, the Boulder City Council accepted and adopted the Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Master Plan, which will guide how the city will manage Boulder’s open space over the next decade and beyond. The product of input from thousands of community members, the OSMP Master Plan:
  • Describes five focus areas – or central management themes – and the related open space values community members share.
  • Articulates community aspirations and collective hopes as desired outcomes for the future of your Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks.
  • Outlines 46 prioritized management strategies to achieve the desired outcomes as well as examples of actions that will fulfill Master Plan guidance.
  • Sets manageable expectations about what can be achieved.
  • Prioritizes strategies into three tiers to describe the relative importance of strategies and the general timing with which they would be accelerated or emphasized during implementation.
  • Identifies a set of Tier 1 strategies that OSMP will focus on first while scaling all other work to align with available funding.
Read the Master Plan’s executive summary and learn how the department incorporated community input, which included a statistically valid survey, to inform the resulting Master Plan and guide city open space management over the next decade. 

Both the Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) and the city’s Planning Board unanimously recommended the plan to City Council on August 1. With City Council’s final adoption of the Master Plan, OSMP will begin implementing the plan through a series of actions tied to the strategies and will begin annually reporting on successes and progress in achieving the vision laid out in the plan. A summary of the Master Plan also will be included as an amendment to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.

OSMP staff would like to extend our deep appreciation to the thousands of community members who told us why they value Boulder open space and shared their hopes and concerns for the future. We also would like to thank Open Space Board of Trustees members, who collectively, have provided more than 340 hours of their time to help the community and staff develop the OSMP Master Plan.

Staff also appreciates the valuable input we received from city council members at two joint Council-OSBT study sessions and the guidance provided by the OSMP Master Plan Process Committee, which includes two OSBT members and two City Council members.   

Thank you again for your contributions and for your love of open space. With this plan, we look forward to the next decade and working with you to continue Boulder’s special open space legacy for our community and future generations.

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BCPOS Partnership Appreciation Event

August 19, 2019.  Boulder County Commissioners and BCPOS Director Eric Lane present BATCO President, Suzanne Webel, with a photo in appreciation of BATCO’s work to support Boulder County Parks and Open Space.

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