Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Boulder County Access Politics at their Finest (I)

Let me set the background in this first post. I'll get to my real point in post II, which I'll put up when I feel like typing more. City of Boulder is in the middle of a very long term project that involves revisiting the management plans of all of their Parks and Open Space land. They are breaking these areas into chunks called TSAs or Trail Study Areas. Each TSA is visited seperately to make it easier for city management to make it thru all of their properties.

City of Boulder has already made it thru 2 TSAs already. Those TSAs were manged in the typical way that local land managers use for public input. The process is basically simple:
-initial public info meeting and comment period
-some sort of interim status and comment period
-suggestions A, B, C, D are presented and there's a comment period
-Staff final recommendation based on previous comments and feedback and comment period
-City of Boulder puts the plan into effect

The first involved the Marshal Mesa area South of Boulder and East of 93 and it stayed pretty low key. Key bike related takeaways from that TSA were a new trailhead for Marshal Mesa right on Broadway and new trails like Cowdrey Draw, High Plains, Coal Seam and Marshall Valley. The plan also laid out the initial framework for the "Dirty Bismark," a ride that has been dreamed of by Boulder Residents for years. Things turned out well and the whole project, although it was still very much "on the radar," didn't bring out a ton of press or comments from the public at large. Thanks largely to Boulder Mountainbike Alliance (BMA) for being on the scene and having the job well handled.

Next TSA was the Doudy Draw area, which included all of the park land south of Eldorado Canyon Drive and West of 93. Now we were getting into some touchy territory, as bikes had been banned in about 95% of this area. Until this TSA, bike access was limited to the Community Ditch, and the very bottom part of Doudy Draw so you could ride off of the ditch and down the draw to the parking lot. Basically pretty lame already and we didn't have much to lose. This was a much bigger deal for Boulder area peeps, both mountain bikers and non mountain bikers. Boulder hikers and haters wanted to keep the bikes out. They got banned for a reason after all, right? But bike supporters came out in throngs to the public meetings and made a lot of good, logical, fact based suggestions. Remember how the process works? City management tries to reach a decision, based largely on public input. Because bike support had been vocal, well thought out, logical and based on facts, OSMP staff recommended opening up Doudy Draw in it's entirety (complete with a reroute to make the trail more sustainable). OSMP staff also called for the creation of what is now Springbrook Loops and Flatirons Vista Loop, both of which would be bike accessible. Again bike peeps were happy and non bike peeps were not.

Now, enter the introduction of the West TSA. The "crown jewel" of Boulder OSMP as it's referred to by staff and some Boulder area residents. This is also a TSA where there are ABSOLUTELY ZERO bike allowed trails in the region.

There's the background. Now do some reading, catch up, and form your own opinion of how it all came down. I'll tell you mine shortly.

For a refresher, go here for the official word from the city and here to learn a little about the politics as they have already played out.

No comments: