Citation
Open space preservation

Material Information

Title:
Open space preservation the history and practise of the Colorado front range
Creator:
Aoki, Kris
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
59 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Open spaces -- Front Range (Colo. and Wyo.) ( lcsh )
Landscape protection -- Front Range (Colo. and Wyo.) ( lcsh )
Landscape protection ( fast )
Open spaces ( fast )
United States -- Front Range ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
by Kris Aoki.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
48460788 ( OCLC )
ocm48460788
Classification:
LD1190.A77 2001m .A64 ( lcc )

Full Text
Open Space Preservation: The History and
Practice of the Colorado Front Range
Graduate School Thesis Spring 2001
Advisor: Professor Brian Muller
By: KrisAoki


Contents
Graduate School Thesis: Open Space Preservation: The History and Practice
of the Colorado Front Range........................................... 1
Introduction.......................................................... 1
History: Evolution of Open Space Preservation......................... 6
Criteria and Goals of Planning Jurisdictions............................ 14
Financing Techniques.................................................. 21
Open Space Governing Bodies........................................... 25
Models: Top Down-Local Level.......................................... 26
Models: Bottom Up Local Level....................................... 27
Models: Top Down National Level..................................... 28
Models: Bottom Up National Level.................................... 30
Footnotes............................................................. 35
Bibliography.......................................................... 38
Appendix A: Boulder County Open Space Criteria........................ 41
Exhibit A: Interview with Boulder County.............................. 46
Exhibit B: Interview with Denver Regional Council of Governments...... 49
Exhibit C: Interview with Douglas County.............................. 52
Exhibit D: Interview with Jefferson County............................ 57


Introduction
The Colorado Front Range is a natural repository of beauty and majesty that needs to be
preserved and managed. However, regional planning for this magnificent open space is not self-
evident. The question is, does the Colorado Front Range have effective regional coordination
that would benefit open space preservation? But first it must be determined how the term
effective is defined. Having effective regional open space planning means creating an
interconnected, cross-jurisdictional open space protection area that is managed by a central
planning agency.
The first portion of the paper will examine if there has been effective regional
coordination through the history of open space preservation, establishing open space preservation
criteria and financing options available for open space preservation. The second portion of the
paper will focus on two different models that are currently being utilized on the Front Range.
The first is a bottom up approach and the second is a top down approach. Then it will be
determined which model is more appropriate for the Front Range.
While the counties on the Front Range do have open space plans and there is an open
space plan in the Metro Vision 2020 Plan for the local Denver Regional Council of Governments
(DRCOG), it appears that little is being done to implement open space preservation on a regional
level. The three counties that are examined in this paper all have an open space plan, but these
plans reveal that none of them look beyond their individual county borders. Wildlife migration
routes and ecosystems do not stop at municipal boundaries; therefore it is vital to look at open
space preservation planning on a regional level before a checkerboard of development eliminates
any chance for preservation.
One of the reasons the Front Range system for open space preservation is fragmented is
due to the large amount of home rule jurisdictions and the attitudes that prevail in that type of
political environment. It appears that little thought has been given to preservation practices on a
regional level due to the fact the master plans or comprehensive plans of each jurisdiction end at
the municipality boundary and do not appear to consider regional implications. This may be due
to the fact that the jurisdictions are not required to look at open space preservation on a regional
level. It is important to consider open space preservation planning on a regional level, otherwise
open spaces become fragmented and no longer serve the wildlife population and biodiversity it
meant to preserve.
1


The fragmentation is evident through the preservation areas on each of the counties
maps. The maps that show existing open space, which are incorporated into the paper for
reference, do not have a joined system of open space. The areas are not continuously connected
by greenways or a series of open space. The boundary between Boulder County and Jefferson
County also shares open space, but only in two small areas that are owned by Boulder. The city
of Boulder crossed jurisdiction lines and purchased open space outside of Boulder County. The
jurisdictional line between Jefferson County and Douglas County share Pike National Forest and
the Chatfield State Park. Both of these parks are preserved and managed by national and state
agencies.
Many municipalities do not want to be told what to do by a regional planning agency or
state planning agency. Other areas have made open space preservation planning a reality
through a regional planning agency, such as the Regional Planning Association in the New York
metropolitan area and the Greenbelt Alliance in the San Francisco Bay area.
To determine what, if any, regional planning is being done as it relates to open space
preservation, the master plans or comprehensive plans for Boulder, Jefferson and Douglas
Counties were reviewed and compared. Interviews have also been conducted with local planning
officials in the different jurisdictions, including DRCOG, in order to get a first hand perspective
on the implementation of the plans on a daily basis. An historical perspective will also be
presented to examine the basis for preservation.
Each municipality must generate a set of selection criteria for evaluating the importance
of the areas that are to be preserved for open space. One option to generate these criteria is to
ask for public participation. This involves public meetings to obtain input from citizens and
special interest groups. Another option is the get input from citizen surveys. This type of
process may be more effective than public meetings due to the fact people are more likely to tell
the truth on an anonymous survey. Another method of determining the best areas for
preservation is through the scientific process, such as the system of Geographic Information
Systems (GIS). The municipalities accumulate scientific information from different agencies.
This data that is generated is then put into different layers of information to determine the highest
and best areas for preservation. These layers may include endangered species habitat, wildlife
migration routes or corridors, highly desirable view sheds, geologically unstable landforms, and
areas that are critical to preserving biodiversity.
2


Once it is determined which areas need to be saved through the public process, scientific
data, and master or comprehensive plan development, there must be ways to implement the open
space preservation plans. Many different programs are available for municipalities to preserve
open space.
The first option is through subdivision dedication. This process is used when a developer
wishes to subdivide his or her property. At the time of final approval or at the time of
recordation of the plat, the developer is required to dedicate a certain about of the subdivision as
open space or the developer can be required to give a fee in lieu of any land dedication within
that subdivision.
Another option open to jurisdictions is transferable development rights (TDR). This
process is where one property owner has restricted use of their property (sending area), but is
still able to use the development rights on another property (receiving area), so the value of the
original property is still there. This process is difficult for governments because the transfer of
development rights must be tracked and the market must support or be limited enough to warrant
utilizing a TDR program.
One simple option open to public agencies is to purchase property outright or fee simple.
This process allows the government to create a management plan for the area with complete
control over the property. Unfortunately, this option is proving more and more difficult with the
cost of land increasing dramatically. Governments are also joining forces with land conservation
agencies as well as other jurisdictions to purchase property so the burden is not completely on
the taxpayers.
It is also possible for the municipalities to purchase the property, but then lease the
property back to the seller for a limited amount of time, with the condition that the property be
utilized for open space, farming or ranching. This alternative allows the farmer or rancher to
continue using the property without having to pay high taxes and receiving pressure from
developers. The municipality is then assured future open space for the community with present
day land values.1
Along this same line, there is the alternative of bargain sales. This process entails the
property being sold at below market rate. This option would be available if the seller had a
strong desire to preserve his or her property and potentially offers income tax deductions to the
seller because the balance of the value can be considered a donation.
3


If a property owner has a strong desire to preserve open space but wanted full price for
the property rather than a bargain sale, there is the option of installment purchases. This allows
the municipality to purchase the property over the long term, at the current market value, while
making payments for the property to the current owner.2
There is also the option of the municipality to charge user fees for the use of the park or
open space. This allows the jurisdiction to raise funds to purchase more open space or to help
alleviate the cost of park and open space maintenance. The one dilemma with this option is that
it has the possibility of creating an exclusionary environment. The park or open space would
only be open to a select few, who are able to afford to pay the fees, rather than to the entire
population.3
Another possibility to obtain open space is through a revolving fund. This process has
been successfully set up in California. According to the book, Tactics for Preserving Open
Space. The (California) legislature provides the agency with an initial stake for making tactical
purchases of land in advance of need. Later, when the legislature makes regular appropriations
for the projects involved, money covering the cost of the purchases already made will be credited
to the fund, thus replenishing it for additional advance work.4 The one drawback to this option
is that the political climate must be favorable to preserving open space. The funds must be made
available from the legislature, but this will not occur unless there is significant political pressure
for open space preservation.5
In this same category is the idea of a revolving land bank. In Tactics For Preserving
Open Space, this process is described as follows: one agency would purchase land, lease it, and
then when it was needed would sell it to the agency needing it for the original cost.6 This
option has the same dilemma as the revolving fund, the political climate must be favorable to
open space planning, plus the money must be available when the land is for sale and at the right
price.
One area that is using the land bank system to fund and preserve open space is the island
of Nantucket. This 50-square foot island has experienced growth pressures of epidemic
proportions. In an average year, the local government of Nantucket Island observes more than
$150 million in real estate sales, the subdivision of over 500 lots, and the construction of over
400 homes.7 In April of 1983, at a Nantucket town meeting, a land bank program was
established with the state of Rhode Island by a vote of 446 to 1. Back in 1986, the land bank
4


program was generating $80,000 a week through a two percent real estate transfer tax. The
money is used to acquire fee or less-than-fee interest in open space. The open space to be
purchased is decided upon by a five member locally elected commission that does not have to
receive approval from any higher authority. This keeps the decision making for open space
preservation at a local level even though the funds are contributed from the state of Rhode
Island. The commission also has the option of eminent domain, but this power requires an
approval vote from two-thirds of the town meeting. The final option for the commission is to
borrow money to purchase property. Property that is acquired through any of these options must
be kept in a natural state, but can be utilized for passive or active recreation. Some purchases are
exempt from the transfer tax requirement, consisting of the following cases: formation and
dissolution of trusts, corporations, and partnerships; bankruptcy, divorce, and foreclosure
proceedings; interfamily transfers and gifts; certain transfers to governments or non-profit
groups; and first time home buyers, who may get a pass on the $100,000 of their purchase
o
price. No real estate exchange can be recorded without a stamp that the real estate transfer tax
has been paid or that the exchange is exempt from the requirement.9
Something the National Park Service has done is to use the option of life-tenancy. The
National Park Service purchases the land for a lower price then market value, but the former
owner is allowed to live on the property for his or her lifetime. This process works well for large
parcel purchases.10
Another method for conservation is through intergovernmental transfers. This process
entails a local municipality leasing and managing lands owned by other governmental agencies,
such as the Bureau of Land Management or the State Land Board.
Jurisdictions also have the ability to create a preferential tax assessment policy to help
preserve open space or future parkland. This policy allows the property to be assessed on the
current use rather than fixture development potential. This would allow the farmer or rancher to
continue to utilize their property for agriculture, without having to pay the high cost of taxes
brought on by encroaching development. A policy such as this normally is adopted after
extensive lobbying from the farming and ranching communities or by a group of citizens
concerned with open space preservation. One problem with this tactic is that land speculators
could purchase the property and then have the property owner continue to farm the land, while
taking advantage of the lower tax assessment. One way to alleviate these loopholes is to require
5


the farmer or rancher to sign an agreement not to sell the property to a developer while in
exchange, the property owner is receiving the lower tax assessment.11
The jurisdictions also have the ability to borrow money to purchase open space through
bonds. Bonds are utilized for capital improvement projects, which could and has included open
space purchases and maintenance. A bond is essentially a loan that the municipality takes out
and plans to repay over time through revenue generating mechanisms or through a designated tax
approved by the citizens. This option allows the jurisdiction to obtain the required money for
open space purchases in a shorter period of time.
The private sector also plays a role in open space conservation. The way the private
sector gives land as open space to the public sector is through dedications, conservation
easements and testamentaiy gifts. The dedication process is where one person simply deeds the
property over to the jurisdiction and then uses the donation as an income tax deduction. The
same is true with the conservation easement. The property owner can donate an easement or the
government can purchase the conservation easement on the property. This method allows the
government to restrict development on the property without having to purchase the entire
property. There is also the option of testamentary gifts. This means that an owner wills the land
to the government for open space preservation.
History: Evolution of Open Space Preservation
The history of open space preservation planning in the United States began in the 1800s
with the creation of the first national park, Yellowstone. Congress recognized the unique nature
of the greater Yellowstone area and decided it needed to be preserved for the entire country to
enjoy for years to come. Yellowstone National Park, all 2,219,822 acres, was established on
March 1, 1872 by an act of Congress.12 When the park was originally created, the boundaries
were based on geological and thermal anomalies. Later, the ecological and wildlife benefits
were discovered. Yellowstone National Park has come to represent one of the last stands of wild
open space in our nation.
The Federal government, in the early 1960s attempted to preserve open space on a more
urban level. Upon witnessing the decline of open space, the Federal government enacted Title
VII of the Federal Housing Act of 1961. This statue enabled the Administrator of the Housing
and Home Finance Agency to give grants to local and state jurisdictions to obtain open space,
to help curb urban sprawl and prevent the spread of urban blight and deterioration, to
6


encourage more economic and desirable urban development, and to help provide necessary
recreational, conservation and scenic areas.13 The Federal Housing Act allowed money to be
distributed to local agencies for acquiring open space that related to a master plan or
comprehensive plan for the revitalization of urban areas that met the requirements created by the
administrator. The Urban Development Act of 1965 updated the Open Space Land Program
established for the 1961 Act.14
The country as well as the state of Colorado has been preserving open space for a long
time. In 1968, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) recognized the need for
regional planning on the Front Range. According to Larry Mugler, the Planning Services
Director for DRCOG, the governing agencies of the Front Range decided there was a real need
for regional planning and Denver Mayor Newton, .. .was one of the leaders of that push that
saw a lot of the inter-jurisdictional issues and felt that they needed to sit down together.15
DRCOG developed a work program for themselves with the December 1968 report, A Study
Design for A Comprehensive Planning Program in the Denver Region. This study was a
framework for carrying out long term comprehensive planning in this area, including open space
preservation. The study indicated what tasks should be accomplished, the timeframe for the
tasks, and the manpower, as well as the materials needed to accomplish these tasks. The tasks
identified in this study for open space preservation included the following elements: create an
inventory for all the parks, recreation and open space within the region, determine the amount of
recreation and open space choices available, evaluate the existing demand for recreation and
open space, develop parks, recreation and open space (PAROS) criteria and standards, determine
the location and extent of park, recreation and open space deficiencies, create short term and
long term recommendations for preservation and acquisition, and finally to create an open space
plan.16 This study then lead to the creation of the Parks. Recreation, and Open Space
Development Program, which was adopted on April 16, 1969.
This program was created from the tasks that were listed in the 1968 study and
established criteria for the preservation of open space on a regional level. The program was
developed by the Open Space Advisory Council (OSAC) from the input of the jurisdictions
within the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA), which included city and county
planning staff, commissions, as well as the park and recreation districts. The objective of this
program is:
7


The next attempt at master planning for open space and parkland did not ensue until
Robert Speer became the mayor of Denver. One of the first tasks Speer undertook when he
entered office was turning the desert brown landscape of Denver to a lush green landscape
through a tree-planting program. In 1905, residents promised to plant and care for the trees;
ultimately 100,000 shade trees were given away to beautify Denver.20
Then in 1907, Speer presented his four-step plan for open space and parkland
preservation for the Front Range. The first step in the plan was to hire city planners to create a
design for the area between the city and county buildings. Speer wanted to have a great park as
the heart of the city. The second step in the master plan was to create a network of tree-lined
streets. Due to the intense sun and hot climate of the Front Range in the summer, Speer desired
to have the cooling shade along all streets that led to the residential districts from downtown.
The third step in the open space and preservation process was to create large neighborhood
parks. The parks were intended to serve as gathering places and to hold special events for the
neighborhoods. Some examples of this goal were Washington Park, City Park and Sloans Lake.
The fourth and final step in the master plan was the creation of a mountain park system. Speer
realized that the views from Denver were just as important as the preservation of parkland and
open space within the city. The outcome of this realization was the Mountain Park System,
which included Red Rocks Amphitheater and Winter Park Ski Resort.21
The Denver Mountain Park system was developed from 1912 to 1941 and consists of 47
foothill and mountain parks, which are interconnected through scenic byways. Approximately
13,500 acres of mountain land are owned by the City of Denver. These parks are located in
Clear Creek, Douglas, Grand and Jefferson counties. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., nationally
recognized landscape architect; Saco Rienk DeBoer, Denver landscape architect; and Jules
Jacques Benois Benedict and Burnham Hoyt, prominent Denver architects were responsible for
planning and designing the Denver mountain park system.22
The unique linkage of mountain parks and scenic drives preserved scenic and
recreational mountain resources within easy reach of Denver residents, expanded
the normal vision of urban parks and parkways, and set the stage for regional
open space planning in Colorado. The development of the system reflects three
national movements of the 20th century: the City Beautiful Movement, the
National and State Park Movement, and the Civilian Conservation Corps
Movement.23
9


The city of Boulder also has a long history of open space preservation. One of the first
open space preservation efforts in the city of Boulder was in 1898 with the purchase of
Chautauqua Park, through a bond issue, which is located at the base of Flagstaff Mountain. Then
in 1907, the city of Boulder received a Congressional grant for 1,600 acres on Flagstaff
Mountain for the Mountain Parks Systems. In 1916, an additional 1,200 acres on Green
Mountain and Bear Peak were purchased by the city of Boulder for the Mountain Parks
System.24
Boulder County has worked jointly with the city of Boulder to established one of the
original and most comprehensive systems of open space preservation. Boulder Countys
program was begun in the early 1960s by a group of concerned citizens. These citizens were
concerned about the growth occurring in their area and wanted a program in which the existing
and quickly diminishing parkland and open space could be preserved. What has grown out of an
idea from a few concerned citizens is one of the most aggressive parkland and open space
preservation and acquisition programs in the Front Range.25
Figure 1: Boulder County Open Space Map26
During an interview with Ron Stewart, the Director of Open Space for Boulder County,
he indicated open space preservation is very important to Boulder County. Specifically he
stated:
We have had this department in the county for about 25 years and open space has
been kind of an integral part of our comprehensive planning ever since the
10


adoption of 1978 Comprehensive Plan and kind of the design of Boulder County
Comp Plan is the idea that urban type development should occur in cities and
towns in urban areas and not in the unincorporated parts and rural parts of the
county. One of the ways you accomplished that, the preservation of the rural
character of the community, is through an open space program. They started
purchasing land about 25 years ago and the purchases were pretty modest to begin
with, it only accelerated when an open space tax was passed in 1993, but the open
space policies were adopted as part of the comp plan. They basically talk about
land that is intentionally left free from development. It can be wildlife habitat,
agricultural land, scenic vistas, buffers between communities, it can serve
numerous purposes, but for us it is not active recreation, at most it is passive
recreational uses such as trails, photography, picnicking, that sort of thing.2
More recently, the city and county worked jointly on the Boulder Valley Comprehensive
Plan, which was adopted in 1990 because both jurisdictions are responsible for land use
development in Boulder Valley. The city and county entered into an intergovernmental
agreement (IGA) to assist in the implementation of the plan. The plan requires that the city and
county of Boulder work concurrently to preserve community buffers, significant natural features,
wildlife habitat, significant ecosystems, and should promote infill development to discourage
development outside of available urban services.28
The county currently has preserved approximately 58,000 acres of open space. The
Boulder County Comprehensive Plan defines open space as, Those lands referred to in the
Boulder County Comprehensive Plan, as being intentionally left free from future development,
and which it has been determined that it is, or may in the future be, within the public interest to
acquire an interest in order to assure their protection.29
Jefferson County is another leader in open space and parkland preservation. The
mission of the Open Space Program is to provide a living resource of open space lands and
waters throughout Jefferson County for the physical, psychological, recreational and social
enjoyment of present and future generations.30 Jefferson County started their open space
program in 1972 through the process of a self-imposed sales tax. The citizens of the county were
concerned enough about parkland and open space preservation that they approved a sales tax to
generate funds for parkland and open space preservation acquisition, planning and maintenance.
The county utilizes this money to implement their goals and policies for parkland and open space
programs.31
11


According to Ken Foelske, Manager of Planning for the Open Space Program in
Jefferson County, prior to the adoption of the 1972 plan:
...the only vehicle that was in place (for open space preservation)...was a
dedication requirement that any development had to dedicate 4 acres per 1000 of
projected population in a development and we put the brakes on that and said
wait. A second neighborhood park and open space needs are way beyond 4
acres per 1000 and we got it raised to 10.5 per 1000 and that is still in place, but
that was the only vehicle of getting the Planning Department to require developers
to put aside parkland and open space for its residents and its surrounding
neighborhood communities. There was no requirement for any commercial or
business development. So consequently it was all related to residential ... which
its fine, it addresses the neighborhood needs, but certainly doesnt address
landmarks, trail corridors, trail development, historic sites and on and on. The
stuff we do now just as a matter of routine.32
Figure 2: Jefferson County Open Space Map33
Douglas County is relatively new to the preservation of open space and parkland, but has
made great strides in the preservation process. According to Toby Sprunk, the Open Space
Specialist for Douglas County:
12


There were essentially two ways in which properties were acquired before the
Open Space Master Plan existed. One of which was most commonly through the
development review process. We actually have 450 slivers of land scattered all
over the county. Mostly in and around subdivisions that were dedicated that the
county currently owns as open space. Also, some of the parcels were purchased
outright using sales and use tax which was earmarked for land acquisition.34
The Douglas County Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan define open space as:
Public or private land and aquatic areas that are regulated or managed to protect
the natural environment and significant cultural resources; provide recreation and
agricultural opportunities; shape the pattern of urban development, or any
combination thereof, including yards and common areas and including a limited
number of buildings and accessory uses compatible with intended use. Open
space shall be deemed not to include driveways, parking lots, or other surfaces
designed or intended for vehicular travel.35
The Douglas County open space program began in 1994 through a voter approved Open
Space, Trails, and Parks Sales Use Tax. Similar to Jefferson County, Douglas County utilizes
this money to implement their parkland and open space polices and goals.36 Mr. Sprunk
indicated that once the voter approved sales tax was passed, ...we were asked by the county
commissioners at that time to work with the Planning Department and the Parks and Trails
Division to integrate our master plan with the county wide master plan. So our master plan is
really a subset of the large county master plan and certainly the whole premise was of our
portion of the master plan was open space preservation.37
13


LEGEND
I I Opn Spac*
<-----1 Fundad Douglas County
| | CHhar Signiftcait
I-----1 Open Space
State Paries
A
Figure 3: Douglas County Open Space Map38
Based on this rich history of parkland and open space preservation, the counties
governing today are attempting to implement the same philosophy as Speer. Each county has its
own set of criteria and policies that it utilized to obtain open space. Even though each county
has their own plan, the criteria selected to obtain and preserve open space is very similar because
the same agencies are consulted for information in the creation of the criteria as well as the open
space preservation maps. These criteria are utilized in determining the areas of open space that
are critical for preservation. The goals and criteria of each municipality will be discussed and
how the criteria was established beginning with Boulder County.
Criteria and Goals of Planning Jurisdictions
According to the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan, open space has many functions
within the community. The first is to shape and buffer urban areas. By creating these buffer
areas, a community does not grow into another creating an endless sea of urbanization.
Preserving critical ecosystems, cultural resources and scenic vistas is a second function. The
third function is to provide access to lakes, streams and other public lands. The arid climate of
the west dictates that it is vital that all water be conserved for future use. Conserving forests,
14


agricultural land and water resources is the fourth function. The last function listed in the
Boulder County Open Space Plan is to protect areas of environmental concern. These are areas
that would be under multiple ownership and Boulder County has significant evidence indicating
that these lands should be preserved in their natural state.39
The goals of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan as it relates to open space are
listed in Appendix A.
The goals listed in the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan were developed primarily
through the public planning process. According to Ron Stewart, the Director of Open Space:
In the process of putting together the comprehensive plan the county did
something like 100 neighborhood meetings around Boulder County, there were
hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of County
Commissioners, there was also at the time and still is Parks and Open Space
Advisory Committee. So there was a lot of process in a formal sense, formal
public hearings, but also the process in the form of neighborhood meetings.40
Not only did Boulder County utilize public meetings for input for open space
conservation planning, but scientific data was also incorporated into the plan, but Mr.
Stewart was not aware of any consultation with neighboring counties during the
development process of the master plan. When asked about Geographical Information
Systems (GIS) being utilized in the development of the comprehensive plan, Mr. Stewart
gave the following response:
We certainly have a lot of the GIS applications now, but at the time this
(comprehensive plan) was being developed there wasnt as much of that. There
were overlays used for instance from the Soil Conservation District, there might
have been soil type maps, maps that indicate lands of national, state, local
agricultural significance. They would have used what ever maps were available
out of the Division of Wildlife in terms of wildlife habitat. There were overlays
on significant landmarks, that sort of thing. We also have a group in Boulder
County called the Boulder County Nature Association, which is a group of
environmental volunteers who over time have done considerable mapping of our
research, which has led to mapping of wildlife habitat, plant community types and
that sort of thing.41
15


Once the criteria was established through the public process and scientific data,
the next step is to prioritize the criteria. But when asked how the criteria was prioritized,
in the case of Boulder County, Mr. Stewart stated:
Well, there really wasnt a priority set. Open space has always been that multiple
faceted approach that I mentioned earlier; agriculture, wildlife, urban buffers and
much of the acquisition program itself has been based on opportunity. Much of
the time you just need to be able to respond to the people who are ready at a
particular time to do something about preserving their land. There has been some
effort but some certain dimension of our acquisition has also kind of been from
the basis of looking at lands that are of a particular significance in an area like
ours that is growing fast. You want to be sure you are getting as much of the land
in the area immediately beyond where the development is going to occur so that
you have a chance for those urban buffers. We had the Nature Association do us
a priority list of mountain and wildlife habitat properties in the county that they
thought were a priority. So we have had various different lists of priority areas
and we in 1992 or 1991 we had the Open Space Task Force, which established
kind of some priorities around the county. There is also a map that was created in
the 1970s called the Open Space Map which shows on the map kind of in general
the areas that people felt at the time should be preserved.42
The next county examined was Jefferson County. The first goal listed in the Jefferson
County Open Space Master Plan is to preserve scenic and unique landforms. These areas, if they
were developed, would detract from the overall character of the community. The second goal is
to preserve cultural resources, which consist of parts of the community with historical
significance. The third and fourth goals are to preserve natural areas as well as wildlife habitat
areas. These are places in the county, which will be left in a natural state and have a high
biological benefit for the community. The fifth goal is the creation of buffer areas to minimize
urban sprawl. The sixth goal is to plan for trail corridors and connections to existing trails.
Another goal for Jefferson County is to define and develop recreational areas.43
Jefferson County created these goals through the public planning process. During an
interview with Ken Foelske the Manager of Planning for the Open Space Program in Jefferson
County, he indicated that the development of the plan went through an extensive public planning
process. Specifically, he stated, Everything we do goes through public review, public meetings,
and critiques with a draft. As a matter of fact, some of the policy parts of the master plan are
actually developed from public input and I mean theyre not based on staff or commissioner
input, they come from the public.44 During the interview it was also asked if technical
16


information was used to develop the criteria for preservation. According to Mr. Foelske, Yes,
we go through various values in the county. Everything from visual to habitat to slope
constraints, dipping bedrock and on and on. Then they are melted together to come up with a
plan and again it goes through public review and comment.45
During the interview, it was asked if regional implications were considered during the
development of the criteria. Mr. Foelske stated:
We coordinate with City of Boulder, Boulder County, Douglas County and
Department of Energy on Rocky Flats with the buffer zone to make sure that stays
open. Coordination with the cities, recreation districts, state, state trail corridors,
surrounding counties, I have already mention Boulder, but even Clear Creek
County on up and the impacts of surrounding counties with the gaming
communities, gambling up there, directing of traffic and impacts and how you
address that with open space and how that is put together; a lot of coordination.46
We also discussed the impact of wildlife migration routes and if that was considered. Mr.
Foelske responded by saying, As a matter of fact, and that brings up coordination with the
Division of Wildlife. They have actually assisted with a lot of information and have participated
in funding some open space.47
Once it is determined the extent of what needs to be preserved, we discussed how or if
the goals of the open space master plan are prioritized. Mr. Foelske responded with:
Probably the best word that could address priorities, is balance and everything
from the local balance, in the sense of having open space goals addressing all of
the county so youre not just concentrating on one area, to the land types that are
being sought. So there is a balance between trails, wildlife habitat, scenic,
historic and having that all mesh. Then talking about that balance, but then also
addressing threat in the sense that which areas are under threat to being lost first.
What we are doing now is addressing the census information to come up with
where the growth has been and then projecting out into the future to figure out
how we can get out ahead of it to preserve that so the priorities are going to
address growth pressures. Then finally the constraint is budget. Even now we are
raising $30 million a year, but that has to be addressed relative to the growth
because even with $30 million not everything can get done in one year. You have
to look at budget relative to those priorities.48
The goals of Douglas County are similar to the other two municipalities. The first goal is
the preservation of wildlife habitat and wildlife movement corridors. The second goal is the
continuation of the rural landscape and agriculture. The third goal is to create community
17


buffers. The fourth is the protection of scenic views, historic properties, and archeological
resources. The fifth goal is the enhancement of recreational opportunities.49
To come up with these goals, Douglas County embarked on an extensive public planning
process. The county desired as much input as possible from all the residents. One of the initial
steps taken by the county was to send out questionnaires to all the residents within Douglas
County. The indications from these survey results is that people are very interested in open
space preservation and making sure the limited amount of open space that is left in the county
remains as preserved as possible. Douglas County officials also met with special interest groups
and other public agencies. According to the Douglas County Open Space Master Plan, the
desired outcome of the meetings was to identify focus issues in the Open Space Master Plan and
how partnerships with these agencies could be reinforced. Mr. Sprunk stated about the public
process:
What people kept hearing over and over again was agricultural heritage, wildlife
habitat, scenic views, trails and recreational opportunities. So most of that
information, the impetus for that came from both staff internally and the public.
There was actually a phone survey done. There was some data collected over the
phone asking people whats most important about this open space planning
because it was just created in 1994 and in fact money didnt start piling up until
1995 and how should we use this money. So a phone survey was done.50
In developing these goals, Douglas County also utilized geographic information and used
a mapping overlay system to prioritize areas for open space preservation. According to Mr.
Sprunk:
It (collecting scientific data) was done primarily in consultation with the Division
of Wildlife and the Colorado National Heritage Program, where they came down
and did a study of the whole county and they really targeted kind of the biological
hot spots in the county and sometimes those match up with the public interest and
sometimes they dont. But in practice, we are clearly interested in those
properties that are one, in our open space priority area but were established
though this public .process and two, that protect key biodiversity, which is really
critical thing to us.
The mapping was completed on a countywide level and took into consideration natural, scenic
and cultural resource data. The following chart is the criteria and ranking system for open space
evaluation that Douglas County utilizes:
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Table 2: Open Space Evaluation Criteria52
CHART 1. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Criteria Definition Ranking
Natural and Cultural
Wildlife Habitat High wildlife habitat value Wildlife movement corridor Moderate quality wildlife habitat Developed areas and low value wildlife habitat High High Moderate Low
Natural Communities/ Land Cover Natural heritage conservation site Colorado natural heritage identified wetlands Other wetlands Riparian area Habitat conservation area Large agricultural lands Scrub oak, evergreen, deciduous vegetation Rangeland vegetation Developed High High High High High High High High Moderate Low
Drainage Perennial stream and drainage Intermittent stream and drainage No drainage High Moderate Low
Landforms Significant landform (exceeds 30 percent slope + related slopes > 10 percent) Geologic hazard class III Geologic hazard class II Geologic hazard class I High High Moderate Low
Flood Hazard Within 100 year floodplain Outside 100 year floodplain High Low
Historic and Archaeological Resource Known or high potential archaeological resource Existing or potential local, state, national, historic designation No significant archaeological or historic resource High High Low
Scenic Quality
Frequency Seen Visible from > 6 miles Mountain backdrop critical preservation candidate lands Major road open views Visible from 2 to 6 miles Visible from < 2 miles High High High Moderate Low
Community Separators Creates rural/natural buffer separating communities/helps maintain compact community setting Create rural/natural buffer separating one county from another Limited rural/natural buffer Not a community separator High High Moderate Low
Pristine Quality NoAimited disturbance to natural/pastoral views Some disturbance Disturbed High Moderate Low
Size Parcel > 160 acres Parcel between 35 to 160 acres Parcel <35 acres High Moderate Low
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Adjacency Adjacent to State Park Adjacent to preserved open space Adjacent to critical wildlife area Adjacent to natural area conservation site Provides linked open space High High High High High
POTENTIAL FOR ACCESS AND PASSIVE RECREATION
Access Potential for significant portions to be opened to public Minimal/highly controlled access No public access High Moderate Low
Passive Recreation Unique recreation opportunity Multiple recreation use opportunity Wildlife visible Limited recreation opportunity No recreation opportunity High High High Moderate Low
Environmental Education Extensive interpretation potential Some interpretive potential Limited interpretive potential High Moderate Low
Linkages Potential to provide trail access to national, state, or regional trail Potential to provide local linkage Not/limited potential for linkage High Moderate Low
Priority Area
Located in one of the open space preservation priority areas High
Located outside one of the open space preservation priority areas Low
Note: A parcel could have one overwhelming characteristic that outweighs not having other overlapping characteristics, example: national significant archaeological site.
Since so much public input had been gather by the Douglas County, the question was
asked, If the public saw something that was critical to them for preservation, but yet the
scientific data was not there, would you go with the public opinion and preserve that portion
even though there might be a piece of property that is more scientifically important? The
response from Mr. Sprunk was:
It is a really tough balance because generally heres one of things that happens.
You are the fastest growing county in the country, you get a lot of phone calls
from people who say there is a great parcel of habitat of open land Id like you to
come take a look at it and tell me if you are interested in purchasing it as open
space. More often then not it is not a critical piece. In fact, you can guess where
20


it is, out their backyard, and we have to very politely say this is a very fragmented
piece of short grass prairie surrounded by development. Chances are a lot of it
has already been platted for fluffier development and were really not interested in
it. It doesnt meet much in the way of biological criteria or agricultural heritage
or history. So we generally stick to our guns and look at our broad criteria and
most of the time we have to say this doesnt meet what we are looking for. Which
is a hard thing to say because personally we would like to lock up a lot of it. So
when you look at a ten acre piece surrounded by development verses a 300 acre
ranch that contains a diversity of different habitat types, wetlands, riparian area,
and great scrub oak and pine forest, theres no comparison. So we really try to
stick to our guns. We havent always been able to. There have been a couple of
parcels where the public pressure has been so intense that the commissioners have
said make this happen.53
The criteria established by each jurisdiction are remarkably similar. Unfortunately, the
selection criteria that are being utilized in not sufficient to cover the fragmentation occurring in
the different planning jurisdictions because of local demand created through the public
participation process. If only scientific data was used and applied in open space preservation,
open space fragmentation would not be taking place.
Financing Techniques
Once the criteria has been established, the financial aspect must be addressed. Each
county has similar methods for acquiring and binding open space. Looking first at Boulder
County, which has a variety of techniques to acquire parkland and open space, the first of which
is subdivision dedication. As explained earlier, this is a process where the developer of a
property dedicates land within the property for parkland and open space during the process of
subdivision. The second technique is a process known as the transfer of development rights. In
Boulder County, this consists of an owner transferring residential development rights from one
agricultural use to another and receives a conservation easement in perpetuity. Along that same
line, the county can also purchase a piece of property without development rights. This means
that an owner of the property keeps the development rights to utilize on another piece of
property, but the purchased property remains undeveloped. The fourth tool of acquisition is
purchasing the property directly. This allows the county to have frill ownership of the property
and it is managed with the Boulder County parkland and open space goals in mind. This option
is becoming increasingly difficult to utilize because of rising land costs. Boulder County has
also obtained land through bargain sales. This process entails the property being sold at below
market rate. Another technique for preservation is a conservation easement. The county owns
21


the deed of conservation, but does not own the property. The county also accepts donations of
land or conservation easements and the property owner then uses that donation as a tax
deduction. Boulder County also participates in intergovernmental transfers. According to the
Boulder County Comprehensive Plan, the county leases and manages other governmental land,
such as the Bureau of Land Management or the State Land Board. The last technique the county
utilizes is joint city and county purchases. The county works with other cities on open space
preservation along city boundaries to meet the goal of a buffer area.54
Boulder County has various forms of preservation. Specifically, according to Mr.
Stewart:
When the comp plan was first adopted in 1978 there was a subdivision thats
called a non-urban planned unit development which lets people get a density of 2
units per 35 acres but only if they clustered those units and preserved at least 75
percent of their holdings in land that would have a conservation easement on it
which could not be further developed. The conservation easement would
preclude further development. We have as well purchased land and the purchase
is both buying the total interest in the property, called the fee simple interest but
also the purchase of conservation easements. Weve more recently done transfer
of development rights where people in more rural parts of the county can sell off
their development potential to people who are closer to urban areas and when they
sell off their development units what ends up is that they end up with a
conservation easement on their land then that precludes it from being further
developed. So we use all kinds of mechanisms purchase, regulations of
subdivision dedication which the non-urban PUD as well as the 75 percent of the
land in a conservation easement and more recently we have had a number of
donations of interests in property.55
To make all these programs a reality though, it takes money. Boulder County has several
different funding sources. Property taxes from the citizens create about $3.8 million annually for
the acquiring and maintaining of parkland and open space. The lottery funds created
approximately $430,000 in the year 2000 for this cause. The final funding source for these
programs is sales tax. The voters of Boulder County on November 2, 1993, approved a .25
percent sales tax. The sales tax of Boulder County generates approximately $9 million a year.
These programs need leadership to administer the implementation process.56
Jefferson County has similar acquisition techniques to Boulder County. Jefferson County
uses conservation easements, cooperative agreements and leases, land donations, transfer of
development rights, and land purchases. Some different acquisition methods used include
working with land preservation organizations. Jefferson County has entered into agreements
22


with various private land conservation organizations to protect large or unique land features from
development. Another unique aspect of the Jefferson County open space program is that they
seek out and acquire lands through testamentary gifts. This means that an owner wills the land to
the county for open space preservation.57 When Mr. Foelske was asked which acquisition
techniques were the most utilized, he responded with:
Purchases, mainly it is through direct fee simple purchase. We do have some
conservation easements but in Jefferson County particularly in areas of high
demand, the conservation easement can cost 75 to 90 percent of the value of the
property so you might as well just buy the whole bundle of sticks and
consequently we have bought mainly land in total. We have also done, like I
mentioned, the dedication requirements of developers and development, but most
of it has been preserved, 45,000 acres, that we have in the current land inventory
by far the vast majority of that has been through buying it directly.58
The previously mentioned self-imposed sales tax creates approximately $1.5 to $2
million annually. Unlike Boulder County, Jefferson County monies are spent towards more
urban uses such as the construction of sports facilities, playgrounds, golf courses and recreation
centers. In Jefferson County, the parkland and open space programs are not funded by property
taxes or by lottery dollars. The county does, however, apply for grants from Great Outdoors
Colorado and other funds for special projects. Another funding mechanism for Jefferson County
is through joint partnerships. The county enters into a partnership with other entities so the
stakeholders can contribute money for preservation, acquisition or maintenance of open spaces.
The county also obtains funding through bonds. The voting public has overwhelmingly
supported the option of general obligation bonds.59 As a matter of fact, according to Ken
Foelske:
The county went out after $160 million bond issue and it was supported by 76
percent of the voters, which is unheard of in the sense of raising that kind of
money and having that kind of support. Its a critical mass, white-hot program
right now and everybody understands that with the vote, this has to happen now.
Over $250 million has been spent on open space in Jefferson County and when
you say it is a quarter of a billion dollars, it kind of puts it in perspective but a lot
of funds have been committed to open space in terms of the county and I think it
is money well spent. This county would be drastically different if that money had
not been acquired.60
Lastly, Douglas County has similar funding resources as the other two municipalities.
The first is the self-imposed Open Space, Trails and Parks Sales Use Tax of .17 percent. This
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tax generates approximately $6 million annually. The funds generated from this tax are
distributed in the following ways: 1) up to 8 percent is allocated to administration, planning
and maintenance; 2) a share back is allocated to the incorporated municipalities of Castle Rock,
Parker, and Larkspur based on 50 percent of their attributable share of licenses plate registration;
and 3) the remaining balance is allocated 80 percent to open space preservation and 20 percent
to parks.61 The tax resolution requires that land purchases utilizing this money must meet
specific criteria, such as:
1. Lands that provide spatial definition of and between urban areas;
2. Lands that preserve fragile ecosystems, natural areas, scenic vistas and areas,
fish and wildlife habitats and corridors, or important areas that support
biodiversity, natural resources and landmarks;
3. Lands that possess cultural, historical and archeological significant areas;
4. Lands of environmental concern, generally in multiple ownership, where
several different preservation methods (including other governmental bodies
participation or private owners) may need to be utilized;
5. Lands that support or provide linkages and trail; access to public lakes streams
and other suitable open lands; stream corridors and scenic corridors along
existing highways;
6. Lands of natural resource value including but not limited to forest lands, range
lands, agricultural land, aquifer recharge areas, and surface water;
7. Lands within or adjacent to a park or public open lands whose development
potential is clearly incompatible with those lands; and
8. Lands for outdoor recreation areas limited to passive recreational use
including but not limited to hiking, photography, nature studies, and where
specifically designated bicycling, horseback riding, or fishing.62
Douglas County also utilizes conservation easements, grants from Great Outdoors
Colorado, lottery funds, property purchases, donations, subdivision requirements, and bargain
sales. Douglas County uses the partnership approach similar to the other counties. The county
coordinates with Castle Rock, Parker, and Larkspur for open space preservation. According to
Douglas County, nearly every dollar spent by the county for land acquisition has been matched
by more than three dollars in partner contributions. Douglas County also participates in an
installment sale, where the seller agrees to accept a series of payments from the county over a
period of time rather than in one lump sum. The county also encourages rural site planning,
including the concept of cluster development to allow for greater open space preservation.63
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Open Space Governing Bodies
Each of the municipalities has an appointed governing body, which oversees the
preservation of open space. The governing body that oversees the parkland and open space
program in Boulder is the Parks and Open Space Advisory Board (POSAC), which meets once a
month. Another committee is the North Foothills Open Space Advisory Board (NFOPAC),
which meets periodically to discuss concerns regarding the northern foothills area.64
The Jefferson County programs are supervised by a similar organization as Boulder
County. Their governing body for open space and parkland is called the Open Space Advisory
Committee. This committee meets monthly to discuss parkland and open space proposals.
Through these goals and policies, Jefferson County has preserved 31,143 thousand acres from
1972 to 1997.65
Douglas County has preserved approximately 7,600 acres through their open space
program which is administered through a nine member open space committee that meets once a
month. The members of the committee are appointed by the Douglas County Board of County
Commissioners. The County Open Space Advisory Committee (COSAC) oversees the goals and
polices of the program. In Douglas County, other organizations have preserved parkland and
open space prior to the creation of the open space program. These entities include the United
States Forest Service, Colorado State Parks, Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Conservation
Fund, Colorado Open Lands, and the city/county of Denver. These organizations have preserved
approximately 166,526 thousand acres.66
\
Even though the three municipalities examined have similar goals and polices as well as
the utilization of similar acquisition and preservation techniques, there still is a lack of
preservation across county lines. To do truly regional parkland and open space preservation, we
need to have the grand ideas that Speer envisioned during his time. Wildlife habitat areas and
migration routes do not stop at jurisdiction lines and sometimes not even at state lines. A
regional approach across municipality lines must be utilized if we are actually going to preserve
parkland and open space for the goals listed in all the municipalities open space plans. As was
stated earlier, criteria are similar, but they are not applied in the same manner due to politics;
therefore, we need a regional committee to oversee the process. The financing mechanisms of
each jurisdiction are also similar, but a regional government probably would be as effective
because of the ability to get funding. It is much easier for municipalities to obtain funding at the
25




bottom levels, such as citizens voting for taxation that will be applied to their local community.
So, which model is best top down or bottom up? In the next section of the paper, both options
will be discussed and it will be determined which model is better for the Front Range.
Models: Top Down Local Level
The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) has created a regional open
space conservation plan for the Denver Metropolitan area. Regional Open Space is defined in
the Metro Vision 2020 Plan as, Those public and private lands acquired or preserved in the
public interest to provide for: the conservation and protection of natural resources, physical and
aesthetic enjoyment of the out-of-doors, shaping the pattern of growth and development,
preservation of agricultural resources, and protection of prominent geographical, and cultural
features and resources.67
DRCOG, in 1997, conducted research to determine the amount of open space that has
been preserved. Currently open space preservation consists of approximately 26 percent of the
region. This conservation area includes city, county, private, special district and other open
space lands, including all federal lands. By the year 2020, DRCOG will preserve, at a minimum,
another 2 percent of the total region. The Metro Vision 2020 Plan recommends that an
additional 14 percent of the region be preserved as open space. If this goal can be met, that
would mean 40 percent of the region would be preserved as open space and 60 percent of the
region would be developed, which would create a more balanced region.68
In the Regional Open Space Element of the Metro Vision 2020 Plan, goals are laid out to
achieve the cooperation of different municipalities, including Boulder County, Jefferson County,
and Douglas County. The aim of the DRCOG regional open space plan is to bridge the gap
between the separate plans of each of the municipalities. The plan entails three major elements
that were combined from discussions from the different agencies involved in the preservation of
open space. The first policy goal is to establish a regional system of open space that is
incorporated within every municipality. The second policy goal is to create a set of objectives
and policies to implement local, regional, and state open space protections plans. These plans
should synchronize with the other policies in the Metro Vision 2020 Plan. The third policy goal
is to make the most updated open space resources and issues information available to the public.
This will allow better opportunities and decisions in regard to open space preservation.69
26


The implementation of the DRCOG Metro Vision 2020 Plan is on a volunteer basis,
therefore it remains to be seen if these goals and policies with be taken to heart by the affected
municipalities. The question was asked of Larry Mugler, the Planning Service Director of
DRCOG, With the completion of the Metro Vision 2020 Plan, how do you plan to get different
municipalities to participate? His reply was:
Well, we are doing a number of things. I think we are continuing to refine the
plan so it is clear about what the plan means and how it relates to local plans, so
we are continuing to have discussions about those relationships. Then, ... the
board, I think more strongly than the staff, has been saying we need to use the
plan and its policies as we make funding decisions. So in the last round of capital
planning for highways and transit, they (the board) gave priority points to
communities that were doing things to implement Metro Vision and their intent is,
we do that every two years, each time to make it stronger that the things the
communities have to do will be more meaningful. This first round was pretty
much that they (the communities) passed the resolution of support. The next time
they (the communities) might have to actually show that they are doing things that
are Metro Vision consistent.70
Currently, the open space polices of the Denver Metro area counties do not reflect regional plans.
The DRCOG Metro Vision 2020 Plan is the first step to preserving regional open space.
Models: Bottom Up Local Level
The agency of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) is an example of a bottom up regional
planning agency. GOCO was established in 1992 with a vote of the Colorado voters. This
agency receives a portion of Colorado lottery monies and uses this funding to award grants for
recreation, wildlife and open space projects. The governor chooses the 15-member board of
trustees to oversee the distribution of funds. GOCO encourages community cooperation through
their funding practices. The people eligible for a GOCO grant include the following agencies,
the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks, counties, municipalities, park and
recreation special districts, and non-profit land conservation organizations.71 An example of
regional cooperation based on funding eligibility is the Legacy Program.
The projects that qualify for the Legacy Program must be of statewide or regional
significance and must stress land preservation. Most of the projects are multi-jurisdictional. To
receive funding for projects, partnerships are encouraged and the agencies must have matching
funds for each of the planning projects.
27


A local example of a bottom up regional plan is the Front Range Mountain Backdrop
Project. In 1992, GOCO established a trust fund for the acquisition of open space and parkland.
This trust fund now encouraged different municipalities to look for partnerships, rather than
compete for funding. This Front Range Mountain Backdrop Project brought together the
planning efforts of five counties located along the Front Range. The following counties are
included: Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, and Larimer Counties. The five counties
examined goals for the preservation of the Front Range mountain backdrop and entered into an
Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), which was signed by all the commissioners for each
county. The IGA sought to jointly study and inventory the Front Range mountain backdrop,
seek public and stakeholder input, and formulate joint projects that would be eligible for GOCO
matching fund grants.72 The inventory of the mountain backdrop is being done through
information gathered from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks, the Bureau
of Land Management, and the Denver Water Board. This information will then be integrated
using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the overlay maps created from this information
will identify the priority preservation areas.73
While the Denver metro area has a difficult task of open space preservation due to the
political climate, there are two areas of the country that have been implementing regional open
space preservation with success for years. The first is the Regional Plan Association, which is
located in the New York metropolitan area and the second is the Greenbelt Alliance, which is
located in the San Francisco area.
Models: Top Down National Level
The Regional Plan Association (RPA) was founded in 1922 to tackle the needs of the
expanding New York City and the surrounding areas. The RPA planning area consists of 31
counties in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The first regional plan for the area was
published in 1929. The plan examined transportation connections for the region, including the
New Jersey skyway, the Whitestone Bridge, and the Henry Hudson Parkway. Not only did the
plan consider transportation networks, but it examined open space areas. The plan delineated
natural areas for preservation and RPA convinced several public entities to purchase land for
public use and preservation. During the 1930s, the park space for the region was doubled. The
RPA also provided assistance to local municipalities in order to implement planning boards,
including the establishment of the New York City Planning Commission. In ten years, from the
28


time the plan was implemented in 1929, planning boards increased from 61 to 204.74 The 1929
plan also addressed the necessity for regional airports and eventually RPA was influential in
causing the administration functions of Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark to be under the power
of the Port Authority.75
Figure 4: RPA Planning Area76
The RPAs second Regional Plan was released in the 1968, which further enhanced the
open space preservation effort for the New York region. During the time period between 1961
and 1973, RPA was able to conserve 210 miles of parkland, which included $2 million of federal
funds that correlated with the Regional Plan. In 1972, the RPA headed the program to initiate
Gateway National Park. Gateway National Park became the first major federal recreation area
in an urban setting.77
During the 1990s, RPA contributed to obtaining federal, state and private funds for
acquiring 15,700-acres of the Sterling Forest property, which will be preserved as a state park.
In 1996, the third Regional Plan, titled A Region at Risk, was created. The plan indicates,
...that this new competitive environment requires that we make bold investments in our quality
of life if we are to attract and retain increasingly mobile people and businesses...in the area.78
Through the 1996 plan, different campaigns were begun to address the different issues of the
growing planning area. The Greensward Campaign deals with open space as well as parkland
preservation and the mission of this campaign is to create a regional open space system a
Metropolitan Greensward that safeguards the regions water supplies, biological heritage, and
recreational opportunities and shapes its future growth by integrating revitalized urban parks and
open spaces, protected landscapes, and a regional network of greenways.79 Through this
29


campaign, RPA has been able to negotiate the preservation of large amounts of open space and
parkland.
Models; Bottom Up National Level
Another successful regional planning association is the Greenbelt Alliance. This group
was founded in 1958 due to increasing pressures from development. The Greenbelt Alliance
strives to protect the remaining open space areas within the San Francisco Bay region. There are
fours ways in which the Greenbelt Alliance works to preserve open space areas:
1. Supporting local plans and initiatives that protect Greenbelt lands and direct
new development into existing urban areas;
2. Promoting regional planning to coordinate local governments general plans
and ensure that Greenbelt protection is a key feature of those plans;
3. Establishing open space districts to help Bay Area communities buy key
parcels of open space; and
4. Educating Bay Area residents about the Greenbelts value and involving them
in protecting and enjoying it.80
Through these mechanisms, the Greenbelt Alliance has saved more that 600,000 acres
and has generated over $450 million for parkland and open space preservation. The Greenbelt
30




that the organization is trying to preserve consists of nine counties in the San Francisco Bay area
and is one of the most productive urban open space areas in the county by producing 100 crops
across 8,000 farms. The Greenbelt consists of 3.75 million acres of the 4.5 million acres in the
San Francisco Bay area, while approximately 731,000 acres are urban development. The
Greenbelt consists of both public and private land. Half of the Greenbelt is utilized for
agriculture, remaining portion has other uses including public parks, watersheds, and private land
holdings.82
Urban Lands Parks, Public Land
731,000 Acres 864,000 Acres
Figure 6: Greenbelt Land Use Chart83
Not only does the Greenbelt Alliance work towards preserving open space, but also the
organization examines how development can coexist with open space preservation and make the
city more livable. The Greenbelt Alliance has conducted research to determine how to make
housing and employment centers close to transit centers without impacting the greenbelt. Since
1997, we (Greenbelt Alliance) have endorsed housing projects designed to provide over 10,000
homes near local services and transit, have initiated a program of urban outings, to see good
examples of city-building, and have been a leader in fighting against dangerous projects...84 It
is important that regional organizations are looking at the impact of open space preservation and
development to show that these two entities can coexist.
Other agencies around the country have successful regional open space programs. The
question is, how can we make it work for the Front Range? The first step to preserving regional
open space is to have a plan. Without a vision for preservation, the operations will be haphazard
and may do more harm than good. In the instance of the RPA, the first plan to emerge from that
agency was in 1929 and has been revised as changes in the planning environment have
31




warranted. It is necessary to have a regional or state open space preservation plan, but in the
home rule tradition of Colorado, it is difficult to have communities participate in regional or
statewide planning.
Secondly, unlike the DRCOG Metro Vision 2020 Plan, participation in an open space
preservation plan should be mandatory to have an impact. It is obvious within the three counties,
Boulder, Jefferson and Douglas, that people are willing to be taxed in order to preserve open
space. That alone should send a signal to the political powers that be that people are serious
about open space preservation.
With this rich history of open space preservation on the national scale as well as the
regional, county and local scale in Colorado, why are we not further along in connecting these
spaces? The primary reason is the political mentality of Colorado. This state is very pro-
property rights and its citizens are naturally suspicious of governments that they feel infringe on
their rights. The climate of the past could be changing with the citizens growth initiative on the
November 2000 ballot, which demanded comprehensive planning for each jurisdiction, but did
not go as far as requiring regional planning.
While the open space preservation history of the Front Range is a great stepping-stone for
preservation practices today, at the time these preservation practices were implemented, there
was little or no scientific data to justify the preservation of open space. As was later discovered
about the creation of Yellowstone National Park, in that time period our country was unaware of
the large amounts of land necessary to maintain a viable ecosystem. The boundaries of the park
should more closely resemble the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The existing boundaries of
the park only encompasses 2 percent of the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which is proving
damaging to wildlife and the natural wonders located in the park.85 Even though DRCOG has
the insight to consider parks, recreation, and open space preservation on a regional level, the
report did not once talk about connecting the open space on a regional level. While the city and
county of Boulder initiated one of the first open space preservation efforts on a local level in the
country, it was based on growth pressures and maintaining the scenic quality of the environment.
While these reasons are admirable, science needs to be utilized to determine the extent of
preservation required for wildlife and ecosystems.
After years of witnessing the loss of open space, many citizens have turned to the idea of
regional planning. The number of enabling structures for the development of regional
32


governments has risen significantly since the 1960s. In just 15 years, from 1972 to 1987, the
number of special districts for regional planning nearly doubled from 14,500 to 29,000.86 In
New York and San Francisco, metropolitan planning and land trust organizations have initiated a
movement to encourage an interconnected metropolitan greenway. This type of planning allows
competing municipalities to recognize and opportunity to work together for the common good.87
Even though both these areas have been successful in regional planning, it is still difficult
for communities that are competing for the same tax dollars to work together. Often times, the
municipalities are suspicious of one another, do not want another municipality telling them what
to preserve and have their own political agendas. With the political system having a fragmented
policy and process, it is no wonder that the developed landscape is also fragmented.88
Regional planning can be successful though, as seen with the RPA and the Greenbelt
Alliance. If a regional planning organization is given the tools necessary for success, it can be
achieved. The regional body must be well managed, allowed to have strong enforcement
authority, and be free from opposition that could stall the planning process.89
When Boulder County, Douglas County and DRCOG were asked if regional planning
was a good way of preserving open space on the Front Range, this is a summaiy of what each
agency said:
Boulder County
Regional planning has its place, but there is no funding at the regional level. Planning
should be more local than regional.90
Douglas County
Douglas County is very concerned about private property rights and is suspicious as well
as resentful of other jurisdictions telling them what to do.91
DRCOG
There is a definite regional role for open space opportunities certainly go across
jurisdictional lines. If the Front Range does not have some consistency in how open space
preservation is addressed, it will be a very broken up piece of open space.92
Jefferson County was not asked it they thought regional planning was a valid way of
preserving open space because it was self evident in other portions of the interview that regional
open space planning was already being utilized.
33


Of the two models discussed, the one with the most potential for success is the bottom up
approach. The reason for this conclusion is that Colorado is fall of home rule jurisdictions and
the municipalities appear unwilling to be told what to preserve by a regional or state agency. By
providing funding incentives, the jurisdictions will be more likely to participate in regional
planning practices. In a model similar to GOCO, which has a agency reviewing plans, but the
planning agencies are required to have matching funds and can only receive funds if partnerships
are created, is the best of both worlds. There is a higher power of a reviewing agency, but the
funding resources and tax dollars at the local level.
The Front Range is on the way of preserving open space on a regional level, but even
though most of the planners in the governing municipalities realize the need for regional
planning, the political climate of the area must change. During the interviews with DRCOG,
Boulder, Jefferson and Douglas Counties, when each of the municipalities discussed open space
planning on a regional level, most of the governing organizations, with the exception of Boulder,
thought that regional planning was a great idea and even necessary, yet everyone knew that it
wouldnt happen on the Front Range until the political powers that exist, funded and supported
the idea. The key to that funding and support is public awareness and education of the need for
preservation, which could be accomplished by communication through newspaper editorials and
television documentaries, which will create political pressure for change.
34


Footnotes
1 Bright, Elise M. Tactics for Preserving Open Space. The University of Texas at Arlington: Institute of Urban
Studies, 1990.
2 Bright, Elise M. Tactics for Preserving Open Space. The University of Texas at Arlington: Institute of Urban
Studies, 1990.
3 Bright, Elise M. Tactics for Preserving Open Space. The University of Texas at Arlington: Institute of Urban
Studies, 1990.
4 Bright, Elise M. Tactics for Preserving Open Space. The University of Texas at Arlington: Institute of Urban
Studies, 1990.
5 Bright, Elise M. Tactics for Preserving; Open Space. The University of Texas at Arlington: Institute of Urban
Studies, 1990.
6 Bright, Elise M. Tactics for Preserving Open Space. The University of Texas at Arlington: Institute of Urban
Studies, 1990.
7 Klein, William R. Nantucket Tithes for Open Space. Planning August 1986: 10-13.
8 Klein, William R. Nantucket Tithes for Open Space. Planning August 1986: 10-13.
9 Klein, William R. Nantucket Tithes for Open Space. Planning August 1986: 10-13.
10 Bright, Elise M. Tactics for Preserving Open Space. The University of Texas at Arlington: Institute of Urban
Studies, 1990.
11 Bright, Elise M. Tactics for Preserving Open Space. The University of Texas at Arlington: Institute of Urban
Studies, 1990.
12 Zaslowsky, Dyan and T.H. Watkins. These American Lands: Parks Wilderness, and the Public Lands.
Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1994.
13 Brenneman, Russell L. Private Approaches to the Preservation of Open Land. The Conservation and Research
Foundation, 1967.
14 Brenneman, Russell L. Private Approaches to the Preservation of Open Land. The Conservation and Research
Foundation, 1967.
15 Mugler, Larry. Planning Services Director, Denver Regional Council of Governments. Telephone Interview.
April 23, 2001.
16 Denver Regional Council of Governments. A Study Design for a Comprehensive Planning Program in the
Denver Region. Denver Regional Council of Governments: Denver Regional Council of Governments
Printing Office, 1968.
17 Denver Regional Council of Governments. Parks recreation Open Space Development Program Denver SMSA.
Denver Regional Council of Governments: Denver Regional Council of Governments Printing Office,
1970.
18 Denver Regional Council of Governments. Parks recreation Open Space Development Program Denver SMSA.
Denver Regional Council of Governments: Denver Regional Council of Governments Printing Office,
1970.
19 Denver History. http://198.202.202.66/AboutDcnver/historv narrative 6.htm Access Date: November 11, 2000.
20 Denver History. http://198.202.202.66/AboutDenver/historv narrative 6.htm Access Date: November 11,2000.
21 Denver History. http://198.202.202.66/AboutDenvcr/liistory narrative 6.htm Access Date: November 11,2000.
22 Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. http://coloradohistorv-
oahp.org/1503dircctorv/ni psdenvermtn.htm Access date: April 14,2001.
23 Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. http://coloradohistory-
oahp.org/1503dircctory/mpsdenvcrmtn htm Access date: April 14,2001.
24 City of Boulder Government. Open Space Department: Long Range Management Policies. City of Boulder: City
of Boulder: City Printing Office, 1995.
25 Boulder County Government. Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. Boulder County: Boulder County Printing
Office, 1999.
26 Boulder County Government. Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. Boulder County: Boulder County Printing
Office, 1999.
27 Stewart, Ron. Director of Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13,2001.
28 Boulder County Government and City of Boulder Government. The Boulder Valiev Comprehensive Plan.
Boulder County: Boulder County Printing Office and City of Boulder: City Printing Office, 1990.
35


29 Boulder County Government. Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. Boulder County: Boulder County Printing
Office, 1999.
30 Jefferson County Government. Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan. Jefferson County: Jefferson County
Printing Office, 1998.
31 Jefferson County Government. Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan. Jefferson County: Jefferson County
Printing Office, 1998.
32 Foelske, Ken. Manger of Planning for the Open Space Program, Jefferson County, Colorado. Telephone
Interview. April 12,2001.
33 Jefferson County Government. Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan. Jefferson County: Jefferson County
Printing Office, 1998.
34 Sprunk, Toby. Open Space Specialist, Douglas County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13,2001.
35 Douglas County Government. Douglas County: Parks. Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Douglas County:
Douglas County Printing Office, 1998.
36 Douglas County Government. Douglas County: Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Douglas County:
Douglas County Printing Office, 1998.
37 Sprunk, Toby. Open Space Specialist, Douglas County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13,2001.
38 Douglas County Government. Douglas County: Parks. Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Douglas County:
Douglas County Printing Office, 1998.
39 Boulder County Government. Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. Boulder County: Boulder County Printing
Office, 1999.
40 Stewart, Ron. Director of Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13, 2001.
41 Stewart, Ron. Director of Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13,2001.
42 Stewart, Ron. Director of Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13,2001.
43 Jefferson County Government. Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan. Jefferson County: Jefferson County
Printing Office, 1998.
44 Foelske, Ken. Manger of Planning for the Open Space Program, Jefferson County, Colorado. Telephone
Interview. April 12,2001.
45 Foelske, Ken. Manger of Planning for the Open Space Program, Jefferson County, Colorado. Telephone
Interview. April 12,2001.
46 Foelske, Ken. Manger of Planning for the Open Space Program, Jefferson County, Colorado. Telephone
Interview. April 12,2001.
47 Foelske, Ken. Manger of Planning for the Open Space Program, Jefferson County, Colorado. Telephone
Interview. April 12,2001.
48 Foelske, Ken. Manger of Planning for the Open Space Program, Jefferson County, Colorado. Telephone
Interview. April 12,2001.
49 Douglas County Government. Douglas County: Parks. Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Douglas County:
Douglas County Printing Office, 1998.
50 Sprunk, Toby. Open Space Specialist, Douglas County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13,2001.
51 Sprunk, Toby. Open Space Specialist, Douglas County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13, 2001.
52 Douglas County Government. Douglas County: Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Douglas County:
Douglas County Printing Office, 1998.
53Sprunk, Toby. Open Space Specialist, Douglas County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13, 2001.
54 Boulder County Government. Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. Boulder County: Boulder County Printing
Office, 1999.
55 Stewart, Ron. Director of Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13,2001.
56 Boulder County Government. Boulder Countv Comprehensive Plan. Boulder County: Boulder County Printing
Office, 1999.
57 Jefferson County Government. Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan. Jefferson County: Jefferson County
Printing Office, 1998.
58 Foelske, Ken. Manger of Planning for the Open Space Program, Jefferson County, Colorado. Telephone
Interview. April 12,2001.
59 Jefferson County Government. Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan. Jefferson County: Jefferson County
Printing Office, 1998.
60 Foelske, Ken. Manger of Planning for the Open Space Program, Jefferson County, Colorado. Telephone
Interview. April 12,2001.
36




61
Douglas County Government. Douglas County: Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Douglas County:
Douglas County Printing Office, 1998.
Douglas County Government. Douglas County: Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Douglas County:
Douglas County Printing Office, 1998.
Douglas County Government. Douglas County: Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Douglas County:
Douglas County Printing Office, 1998.
Boulder County Government. Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. Boulder County: Boulder County Printing
Office, 1999.
65 Jefferson County Government.
Printing Office, 1998.
Douglas County Government.
62
63
64
66
Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan. Jefferson County: Jefferson County
Douglas County:
69
Douglas County: Parks. Trails and Open Space Master Plan.
Douglas County Printing Office, 1998.
67 Denver Regional Council of Governments. Metro Vision 2020 Plan. Denver Regional Council of Governments:
Denver Regional Council of Governments Printing Office, 2000.
68 Denver Regional Council of Governments. Metro Vision 2020 Plan. Denver Regional Council of Governments:
Denver Regional Council of Governments Printing Office, 2000.
Denver Regional Council of Governments. Metro Vision 2020 Plan. Denver Regional Council of Governments:
Denver Regional Council of Governments Printing Office, 2000
70 Mugler, Larry. Planning Services Director, Denver Regional Council of Governments. Telephone Interview.
April 23,2001.
71 Great Outdoors Colorado. http://www.goco.org Access date: May 4, 2001.
72 Jefferson County Government. Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan. Jefferson County: Jefferson County
Printing Office, 1998.
73 Jefferson County Government. Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan. Jefferson County: Jefferson County
Printing Office, 1998.
74 Regional Planning Association, http://www.rpa.org Access date:
75 Regional Planning Association, http://www.rpa.org Access date:
76 Regional Planning Association, http://www.rpa.org Access date:
77 Regional Planning Association, http://www.rpa.org Access date:
78 Regional Planning Association, http://www.rpa.org Access date:
79 Regional Planning Association, http://www rpa.org Access date: January 31, 2001.
80 Greenbelt Alliance. http://www.greenbelt.org Access date: January 31, 2001.
81 Greenbelt Alliance. http://www.greenbelt.org Access date: January 31, 2001.
82 Greenbelt Alliance. http://www.greenbelt.org Access date: January 31, 2001.
83 Greenbelt Alliance. http://www.greenbelt.org Access date: January 31, 2001.
84 Greenbelt Alliance. http://www.greenbelt.org Access date: January 31, 2001.
85 Keiter, Robert B. and Mark S. Boyce. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Redefining Americas Wilderness
Heritage. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991.
86 Diamond, Henry L. and Patrick F. Noonan. Land Use in America: The Report of the Sustainable Use of Land
Project. Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1996.
87 Diamond, Henry L. and Patrick F. Noonan. Land Use in America: The Report of the Sustainable Use of Land
January 31,2001.
January 31, 2001.
January 31, 2001.
January 31, 2001.
January 31, 2001.
Project. Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1996.
88 Diamond, Henry L. and Patrick F. Noonan. Land Use in America:
The Report of the Sustainable Use of Land
89
90
Project. Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1996.
Diamond, Henry L. and Patrick F. Noonan. Land Use in America: The Report of the Sustainable Use of Land
Project. Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1996.
Stewart, Ron. Director of Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13, 2001.
91 Sprunk, Toby. Open Space Specialist, Douglas County, Colorado. Telephone Interview. April 13, 2001.
92 Mugler, Larry. Planning Services Director, Denver Regional Council of Governments. Telephone Interview.
April 23, 2001.
37


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Metropolitan Regional Council. Berkley and Los Angeles: University of
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Conservation and Research Foundation, 1967.
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39


Zaslowsky, Dyan and T.H. Watkins. These American Lands: Parks Wilderness, and the
Public Lands. Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1994.
40


Appendix A: Open Space Policies of Boulder County1
Acquisition
OS It is recognized that the acquisition of an interest in open space lands must be
1.01 based on the long term implementation of the countys overall open space
plan, in which prioritization of need and available revenues must be
considered. From time to time, applications for various land use decisions
which contemplate development are expected to be made for privately owned
lands which have been designated as open space on the Open Space Plan
Map of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. In such cases, it will be the
responsibility of the county to make decisions with regard to the possible
acquisition of an interest in such lands in a timely manner. In the event a
decision to acquire whatever public interest the county may desire is not
made with reasonable promptness and pursued diligently, applicants shall be
entitled to have their applications processed and considered as any other
similar applications, not involving open space, would be.
OS The county shall not deny development or other land use applications,
1.02 otherwise in compliance with the land use regulations, solely because of the
open space designation. However, in reviewing development or other land
use applications, the county shall consider the open space values and other
characteristics which contribute to the open and rural character of
unincorporated Boulder County.
OS When seeking to acquire whatever interest the county may desire in lands
1.03 designated as open space, the county will negotiate in good faith with the
property owners involved. The power of eminent domain shall be used only
in exceptional cases, when obviously necessary to protect the public interest.
Resource Management
OS The county shall identify and work to assure the preservation of
2.01 Environmental Conservation Areas, critical wildlife habitats and corridors,
Natural Areas, Natural Landmarks, significant areas identified in the Boulder
Valley Natural Ecosystems Map, historic and archaeological sites, and
significant agricultural land.
OS Significant natural communities, rare plant sites, wetlands, and other
2.02 important stands of vegetation, such as willow carrs, should be conserved
and preserved.
OS The county shall provide management plans and the means
2.03 for the implementation of said plans for all open space areas
that have been acquired by or dedicated to the county.
OS 2.03.01 The foremost management objectives of
individual open space lands shall follow directly from the
41


purposes for which the land was acquired.
OS 2.03.02 Management of county open space lands shall
consider the regional context of ecosystems and adjacent land
uses.
OS 2.03.03 Management of individual open space lands,
including those under agricultural leases, shall follow good
stewardship practices and other techniques that protect and
preserve natural and cultural resources.
OS The county, through its Parks and Open Space Department, shall provide
2.04 appropriate educational services for the public which increase public
awareness of the countys irreplaceable and renewable resources and the
management techniques appropriate for their protection, preservation, and
conservation.
OS 2.04.01 The Parks and Open Space Department shall
cooperate with schools and non-profit organizations in the
county to provide environmental education activities which
increase awareness, understanding, appreciation, and support
for stewardship of the natural and cultural resources on open
space.
OS 2.04.02 The Parks and Open Space Department shall seek
to meet the needs of diverse populations in the county by
providing information and programming to accommodate
special groups such as disabled persons, young people, senior
citizens, and Spanish-speaking citizens.
OS 2.04.03 The Parks and Open Space Department shall
develop and disseminate information through publications,
exhibits, and other media on the uniqueness, importance, and
appropriate stewardship and management of open space areas
in the county.
OS 2.04.04 The Parks and Open Space Department shall
utilize trained volunteers, cooperating groups, and private
individuals to assist in the delivery of environmental
education and interpretive services.
OS The county, through its Weed Management Program, shall discourage the
2.05 introduction of exotic or undesirable plants and shall work to eradicate
existing infestations though the use of Integrated Weed Management
throughout the county on private and public lands.
42


Scenic Area and Open Corridor Protection
OS Where necessary to protect water resources and/or riparian habitat the
3.01 county shall ensure, to the extent possible, that areas adjacent to water
bodies, functional irrigation ditches and natural water course areas shall
remain free from development (except designated aggregate resource
areas). The comity may preserve these open corridor areas by means of
appropriate dedication during the development process, reasonable
conditions imposed through the development process, or by acquisition.
OS Where appropriate the county shall continue to acquire parcels of land
3.02 or right-of-way easements to provide linkages between public lands.
OS To the extent possible, the county shall protect scenic corridors along
3.03 highways and mountain road systems. The county may preserve these
scenic corridor areas by means of appropriate dedication during the
development process, reasonable conditions imposed through the
development process or, by acquisition.
OS Areas that are considered as valuable scenic vistas and Natural
3.04 Landmarks shall be preserved as much as possible in their natural state.
Recreational Use
OS The Boulder County Land Use Code shall provide for land dedications of
4.01 parks and open space and necessary public access to those areas where
appropriate.
OS Except as the county may establish a regional park, such as the Boulder
4.02 County Fairgrounds, or other similar facilities, the county will provide only
a minimum level of maintenance or development on park land (consistent
with policy OS 2.03).
OS Recreational use of county open space land may be permitted where such
4.03 use is consistent with the management plan for the property and does not
adversely impact natural and cultural resources or other management
objectives of the property.
OS 4.03.01 Recreational use shall be passive, including but
not limited to hiking, photography or nature studies, and, if
specifically designated, bicycling, horseback riding, or
fishing. Only limited development and maintenance of
facilities will be provided.
OS 4.03.01 Accessibility for special populations such as
disabled persons, young people, senior citizens, and Spanish-
speaking people shall be addressed on a system-wide basis.
OS Requests for special uses or events on county open space shall be evaluated
4.04 for their impacts to natural and cultural resources as well as other
43


management objectives and maintenance considerations.
OS Any development of regional county facilities or of county park or open
4.05 space land shall be based on a plan approved by the County Commissioners
after review by the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee.
OS Private dedication or development of parks, open space or recreational
4.06 facilities shall, to the extent subject to public review, be reviewed by the
Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee, and where appropriate, the
Planning Commission, for recommendation to the Board of County
Commissioners.
OS In neighborhoods where residents desire more open space and park and
4.07 recreation facilities than the county provides, the county shall cooperate in
the formation of special taxing districts for open space and park and
recreation facilities.
Rural Character Preservation and Community Buffering
OS Boulder County shall, in consultation with affected municipalities, utilize
5.01 open space to physically buffer Community Service Areas, for the purpose of
ensuring community identity and preventing urban sprawl.
OS The county shall utilize Intergovernmental Agreements with one or more
5.02 municipalities to encourage the preservation of open space lands and the
protection of the rural and open character of the unincorporated parts of
Boulder County.
OS The county shall encourage use of Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) to
5.03 preserve and protect rural character, open space, scenic features, and
environmental resources.
OS The county shall use its open space acquisition program to preserve
5.04 agricultural lands of local, statewide, and national importance. Where
possible, purchase of conservation easements, purchase of development
rights, or lease-back arrangements should be used to encourage family farm
operations.
OS The county shall use its open space program as one means of achieving its
5.05 environmental resources and cultural preservation goals.
Public/Private Partnerships
OS The county shall consider for possible acquisition those lands within the
7.01 county which are owned and may be disposed of by other governmental
agencies.
OS The county may promote and participate in partnership projects with the
7.02 communities in the county for open space acquisition and trails development
outside of community service areas.
44


OS The county shall cooperate with the owners of privately owned open space,
7.03 including conservation easements, to protect their interests from public
trespass.
OS The county, through the Parks and Open Space Department, shall work with
7.04 foundations, trusts, developers, ditch and utility companies, and others from
the private and public sectors in furtherance of the countys open space
objectives by encouraging land donations and dedication and multiple use of
easements and by providing and informing the public of incentives for
preservation.
Public Decision Making
OS The county shall annually develop a Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for
8.01 open space acquisition and trails construction. Formulation of the CIP shall
take into consideration project suggestions from municipalities as well as
suggestions received from the public. The CIP shall be reviewed by the Parks
and Open Space Advisory Committee, after public comment, and
recommended for adoption after public hearing by the Board of County
Commissioners.
OS Purchases of land for open space require approval by the Board of County
8.02 Commissioners after public hearing and after review and recommendation of
the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee.
OS In developing management plans for open space areas, Parks and Open Space
8.03 staff shall solicit public participation of interested individuals, community
organizations, adjacent landowners and the Parks and Open Space Advisory
Committee. Plans shall be reviewed by the Parks and Open Space Advisory
Committee, including public comment, and recommended for adoption after
public hearing by the Board of County Commissioners.
OS Significant changes to overall management direction or techniques shall be
8.04 presented to the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee and/or the Board
of County Commissioners, with opportunity for public comment before a
decision is made.
1 Boulder County Government.
Printing Office, 1999.
Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. Boulder County: Boulder County
45


Exhibit A
Interview with Boulder County
Ron Stewart Director of Open Space
How long have you been with the organization?
I have been a commissioner in Boulder County for 16 years, but I have only been the director of
the Parks And Open Department for a year and a half.
Prior to the current open space policies being put into place, was open space preservation
considered important and was it done?
They started purchasing land about 25 years ago and the purchases were pretty modest to begin
with, it only accelerated when an open space tax was passed in 1993, but the open space policies
were adopted as part of the comp plan. They basically talk about land that is intentionally left
free from development. It can be wildlife habitat, agricultural land, scenic vistas, buffers
between communities, it can serve numerous purposes, but for us it is not active recreation, at
most it is passive recreational uses such as trails, photography, picnicking, that sort of thing.
What criteria were usedfor open space preservation prior to any policies being put into place?
Was any preservation done?
They started purchasing land about 25 years ago and the purchases were pretty modest to begin
with, it only accelerated when an open space tax was passed in 1993, but the open space policies
were adopted as part of the comp plan. They basically talk about land that is intentionally left
free from development. It can be wildlife habitat, agricultural land, scenic vistas, buffers
between communities, it can serve numerous purposes, but for us it is not active recreation, at
most it is passive recreational uses such as trails, photography, picnicking, that sort of thing.
What is your primary preservation source? Do you primarily purchase open space, do you get
it from subdivision dedication or what?
When the comp plan was first adopted in 1978 there was a subdivision thats called a non-urban
planned unit development which let people get a density of 2 units per 35 acres but only if they
clustered those units and preserved at least 75 percent of their holdings in land that would have a
conservation easement on it which could not be further developed. The conservation easement
would preclude further development. We have as well purchased land and the purchase is both
buying the total interest in the property, called the fee simple interest but also the purchase of
conservation easements. Weve more recently done transfer of development rights where people
in more rural parts of the county can sell off their development potential to people who are closer
to urban areas and when they sell off their development units what ends up is that they end up
with a conservation easement on their land then that precludes it from being further developed.
So we use all kinds of mechanisms purchase, regulations of subdivision dedication which the
non-urban PUD as well as the 75 percent of the land in a conservation easement and more
recently we have had a number of donations of interests in property.
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What process was used to form the policies for the comp plan as far as preservation?
A lot of public process. In the process of putting together the comprehensive plan the county did
something like 100 neighborhood meetings around Boulder County, there were hearings before
the Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners, there was also at the time
and still is Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee. So there was a lot of process in a formal
sense, formal public hearings, but also the process in the form of neighborhood meetings.
Was scientific information used, such as GIS and using an overlay system to look at wildlife
habitat?
No so much the GIS because that has come more recently. We certainly have a lot of the GIS
applications now, but at the time this (comprehensive plan) was being developed there wasnt as
much of that. There were overlays used for instance from the Soil Conservation District, there
might have been soil type maps, maps that indicate lands of national, state, local agricultural
significance. They would have used what ever maps were available out of the Division of
Wildlife in terms of wildlife habitat. There were overlays on significant landmarks, that sort of
thing. We also have a group in Boulder County called the Boulder County Nature Association,
which is a group of environmental volunteers who over time have done considerable mapping of
our research, which has led to mapping of wildlife habitat, plant community types and that sort
of thing.
How are the goals prioritized, such as what were you planning on preserving, what was the
highest priority for preservation?
Well, there really wasnt a priority set. Open space has always been that multiple faceted
approach that I mentioned earlier; agriculture, wildlife, urban buffers and much of the acquisition
program itself has been based on opportunity. Much of the time you just need to be able to
respond to the people who are ready at a particular time to do something about preserving their
land. There has been some effort but some certain dimension of our acquisition has also kind of
been from the basis of looking at lands that are of a particular significance in an area like ours
that is growing fast. You want to be sure you are getting as much of the land in the area
immediately beyond where the development is going to occur so that you have a chance for those
urban buffers. We had the Nature Association do us a priority list of mountain and wildlife
habitat properties in the county that they thought were a priority. So we have had various
different lists of priority areas and we in 1992 or 1991 we had the Open Space Task Force, which
established kind of some priorities around the county. There is also a map that was created in the
1970s called the Open Space Map which shows on the map kind of in general the areas that
people felt at the time should be preserved.
Did you consider regional implication when the plan was constructed? Such as did you
consult with the Division of Wildlife, Jefferson County?
There would have been with the Division of Wildlife, but I dont know if there was with
Jefferson County or not.
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Would you consider regional planning as far as open space preservation a valid way of
approaching this?
Not really. I mean I think it has its place, but I also think it has no money. There is no funding
stream at the regional level so ultimately what you do becomes a function of whether you have
the money to implement the vision you have. Its much more a local thing than a regional thing.
Are plans approved within the County that arent in compliance with the open space comp
plan?
Yes. One of the caveats on the Open Space Map was always that open space is not a zoning
category it is simply a desired future result. If there were applications for development that were
in areas that we would have liked to have seen as open space those applications had to be
processed anyway based on the zoning of what the property was. Furthermore, just given the
status of Colorado law, cities can annex in anything they want as long as they have the
permission of the landowner of the land to be annexed. Much of or some parts of the open space
we would have like to have seen preserved werent really possible to preserve because cities
annexed it an developed it.
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Exhibit B
Interview with Denver Regional Council of Governments
Larry Mugler Planning Services Director
How long have or had you been with DRCOG?
Uh, 26 years.
When was DRCOG created?
In 1955 it was called the Inter County Regional Planning Commission then and I think it was
changed in 1970 to DRCOG.
What prompted the creation of your organization?
The counties as you can guess from the name, thought there was a need to get together to look at
long range planning issues.
Was that prompted by public outcry at the growth taking place at that time or was it just the
government organizations decided that needed to be done?
Umm, it was more of the governments feeling that there was a real need for it. Newton, the
Denver Mayor at the time, I think was one of the leaders of that push that saw a lot of the inter-
jurisdictional issues and felt that they needed to sit down together.
With so much history of comprehensive planning, why do you think more progress hasnt
been made in regional planning in the Front Range?
I suspect it is due to the strong tradition of local control in Colorado. It used to be difficult and
has always been difficult to get communities to feel that they should give up any power or
authority to another level of government.
Do have any idea on how we could accomplish that, trying to get a more cooperative effort in
the Front Range?
Well hopefully, some of the things that have happened in the last couple of years, are such that
some of that is changing. The signing of the Mile High Compact last year, where the
communities said they would work together on a regional plan, which kind of makes it more than
voluntary. If the legislature actually puts a regional planning section in the new growth
management bill that of course is a way. The other way that has been tried is the public vote.
There has been at least three, I think, attempts to form a regional service authority in the Denver
Metro Area. It almost passed one time, lost by less then a percent, which would have created a,
umm, absorbed DRCOG and its planning responsibilities and then could have added other
services such as waste water or water supply or urban drainage. Some of those things that we
now have as separate authorities.
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Do you think the growth initiative that was on the November ballot will have an influence on
regional planning?
Its going to have an effect on planning and secondarily on regional planning. The initiative itself
didnt have a regional requirement in it so that continues to be a topic of discussion whether
regional planning should be required or not. But it certainly raised the visibility of the planning
function and hopefully got people thinking more about how we do planning across jurisdiction
lines.
With the completion of the Metro Vision 2020 Plan, how do you plan to get different
municipalities to participate?
Well, we are doing a number of things. I think um, we are continuing to refine the plan so it is
clear about what the plan means and how it relates to local plans so we are continuing to have
discussions about those relationships. Then we also, the Board I think more strongly than the
staff, has been saying we need to use the plan and its policies as we make funding decisions. So
in the last round of capital planning for highways and transit, they (the Board) gave priority
points to communities that were doing things to implement Metro Vision and their intent is, we
do that every two years, each time to make it stronger that the things the communities have to do
will be more meaningful. This first round was pretty much that they (the communities) passed
the resolution of support. The next time they (the communities) might have to actually show that
they are doing things that are Metro Vision consistent.
I know there is criteria listed in the Metro Vision 2020 Plan for open space preservation, what
process was used to form the criteria?
We brought together a group of open space interest folks that spent, kind of spent a year
wrestling with definitions, and then a year of putting the policies together. Umm, so that group
was the primary author and of course we had a couple of workshops and other public events to
try to get a broader input on what a regional policy and open space should be.
So I am assuming they used technical information as well as public input jointly?
Yes.
How is the criteria prioritized?
I think that is one we are still wrestling with. There is probably a limited amount of priority
setting in the regional open space plan now. Its more an identification of important open space
types and not really saying which of those types are more important than others. I think that is
probably the next stage that we will actually get to priority setting.
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Do you think regional planning is a valid way of approaching open space planning on the
Front Range?
Yea, I think there is a definite regional role for open space because it is something that the open
space opportunities certainly go across jurisdictional lines. I guess a good example is the Front
Range Backdrop where we got counties up and down the Front Range that have pieces of the
Front Range and if we dont have some consistency in how we address that its going to be a
very broken up piece of open space.
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Exhibit C
Interview with Douglas County
Toby Sprunk Open Space Specialist
How long have you been with the organization?
Ive been here about 3 years.
Prior to the current open space policies being put into place as part of the Douglas County
Open Space Plan, was open space preservation considered important and was it done?
Well, maybe I should give you a little history. The open space program was started in 1994 and
we were asked by the county commissioners at that time to work with the Planning Department
and the Parks and Trails Division to integrate our master plan with the countywide master plan.
So our master plan is really a subset of the large county master plan and certainly the whole
premise was of our portion of the master plan was open space preservation.
Actually what I was asking was, prior to the goals and policies put in place by the current open
space master plan, was any preservation done?
Oh, before the Master Plan?
Right
Ah, yeah. Absolutely.
How did that take place? Or how was that done, was it just done through subdivision
dedication and what priorities were set for obtaining that open space?
There were essentially two ways in which properties were acquired before the Open Space
Master Plan existed. One of which was most commonly through the development review
process. We actually have 450 slivers of land scattered all over the county. Mostly in and
around subdivisions that were dedicated that the county currently owns as open space. Also,
some of the parcels were purchased outright using sales and use tax which was earmarked for
land acquisition.
And that was prior to the approval of the Open Space Master Plan?
Thats right. The first couple of years things were pretty weird. The whole operation was really
flying by the seat of its pants and essential it was originally couched within the Planning
Department. There was an open space advisory committee and some purchases were made but
there really wasnt an established process, criteria established. Eventually open space was pulled
out of planning and a new division was created and thats when we really created the rules and
regulations, policies and procedures and those sorts of things. For the first couple of years,
52


things were pretty haphazard. I dont think anybody really knew what to make of this open
space money that was being accumulated.
Upon approval of the Open Space Plan what process was used to form the policies that made
up that plan?
Well, the master plan really doesnt have a lot of policy per say. Our master plan basically
outlines in very general terms what it is we are all about in terms of how we do what we do. We
dont really have a whole lot of documentation on that.
J read in the open space plan you went through the public process such as doing a citizen
survey, public meetings and meeting with special interests groups and things like that Is that
all that you did?
Well, some policies were put together and I can send you those, but they are hopelessly dated for
one and they have evolved quite a bit. And again we are actually kind of to a point where
everything that comes into us is evaluated on a case by case basis we generally dont have
specific polices and procedures per say. Again I can send you what weve got, but honestly Ive
worked here three years, and I have never even opened them up to look at them.
These are tough questions because they really get at the heart and soul of the history of our
department, which has been pretty convoluted.
The goals that are listed in the Master Plan, how were those prioritized? How did you come
up with the ranking system?
I would have to say the way they came up with, all these things, were listed as important to the
public, that was really the big thing. What people kept hearing over an over again was
agricultural heritage, wildlife habitat, scenic views, trails and recreational opportunities. So most
of that information, the impetus for that came from both staff internally and the public.
Was scientific data used to establish the criteria?
There was actually a phone survey done. There was some data collected over the phone asking
people whats most important about this open space planning because it was just created in 1994
and in fact money didnt start piling up until 1995 and how should we use this money. So a
phone survey was done.
But as far as determining this is prime wildlife habitat, these are slopes over 30 percent, things
like, were those done through GIS or something like that?
It was done primarily in consultation with the Division of Wildlife and the Colorado National
Heritage Program, where they came down and did a study of the whole county and they really
targeted kind of the biological hot spots in the county and sometimes those match up with the
public interest and sometimes they dont. But in practice, we are clearly interested in those
53


properties that are one, in our open space priority area but were established though this public
process and two, that protect key biodiversity, which is really critical thing to us.
If the public saw something that was critical to them for preservation, but yet the scientific
data was not there, would you go with the public opinion and preserve that portion even
though there might be a piece of property that is more scientifically important?
Oh man, that is, you just nailed it. It is a really tough balance because generally heres one of
things that happens. You are the fastest growing county in the country, you get a lot of phone
calls from people who say there is a great parcel of habitat of open land Id like you to come take
a look at it and tell me if you are interested in purchasing it as open space. More often then not it
is not a critical piece. In fact, you can guess where it is out their backyard and we have to very
politely say this is a very fragmented piece of short grass prairie surrounded by development.
Chances are a lot of it has already been platted for further development and were really not
interested in it. It doesnt meet much in the way of biological criteria or agricultural heritage or
history. So we generally stick to our guns and look at our broad criteria and most of the time we
have to say this doesnt meet what we are look for. Which is a hard thing to say because
personally we would like to lock up a lot of it. So when you look at a ten acre piece surrounded
by development verses a 300 acre ranch that contains a diversity of different habitat types,
wetlands, riparian area, and great scrub oak and pine forest, theres no comparison. So we really
try to stick to our guns. We havent always been able to. There have been a couple of parcels
where the public pressure has been so intense that the commissioners have said make this
happen.
Are plans approved from the development side that are not in compliance with the Master
Plan?
Again, the open space master plan and the county master plan are kind of different. They are
within one document, but all of the open space that is part of developments is handle through the
Planning Department. So what happens is that the developer comes in, submits an application,
agrees to allocate a certain portion of the property for open space, develops the remainder. If the
rezoning is approved, the development goes in, after all is said and done, we get that open space.
But we are not involved generally in the negotiation of what we get and what we dont get. To
some extent we are, but weve been kind of asked to step out of the whole planning process. The
reason being, lets say a developer come in, asks for a rezoning, he knows that open space is
keenly interested in purchasing the property, he comes in, submits his application, goes before
the Planning Commission and is rejected. The next day, he gets a phone call from the open
space division essentially saying, were sorry to hear that your rezoning application was rejected,
how would you like to sell it to us? See how there is a conflict there? I mean we only work with
willing sellers. If there is a perception that we have some influence over the planning process in
who gets rezoned and who doesnt, and we are there to swoop up and make offers on pieces that
didnt get rezoned, it really sets us up for some liability.
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Does the Planning Department consult you on projects?
Yes, we are consulted. We get referrals and proposal, we look at them and sometimes we are
invited to make recommendations but in terms of having any kind of say in what gets approved
and what doesnt get approved from a development standpoint we have no jurisdiction.
Were regional implications considered with the development of the master plan?
Absolutely, in fact the whole premise of the county Master Plan is to focus as much development
as possible in the existing municipalities, Castle Rock and Parker in particular and in the
northern tier of the county.
So did you consult Jefferson County or Elbert County?
You bet. Again it is an odd position because even though we are part of county government, but
what happens in Planning in terms of subdivision and rezoning and development stuff, is really
out of hands. We work within our priority areas and where there is interface for us to interact
and provide info, we do but anything with development we dont get anything until it is all over.
Do you think regional is a valid way of approaching open space planning?
Yes and no. Here is the kicker. Douglas County is very pro private property rights and one of
the things that I have learned is that it really (important) talk to each other and share ideas and
we do. We interface with them (other planning agencies) quite a bit; sometimes on projects,
sometimes just on operations and they are enormously helpful. I think that the dangerous thing
you can get into is where what happens is someone from a various jurisdiction makes a
recommendation on whats important to preserve in another jurisdiction and it becomes very turf
oriented very quickly. People say well look, Douglas County goes to decide whats important
for Douglas County to preserve, Jeff Co, Larimer, Boulder, who ever, it becomes real turf
oriented, which is unfortunate. So it is tough. In theory, absolutely, Im all for regional
planning, lets think about the grand scheme of things as metro area because we are all part of
the same are for crying out loud. But it just becomes touchy in terms of how involved you
become in other peoples priority settings.
So you dont think regional planning could be implemented because of the home rule
mentality that we have here?
Well, I go to DRCOG Open Space subbasin committee meetings, they have a fine report, there is
not a thing wrong with it, but in terms of on the ground acquisition, priority setting and funding
that sort of thing, we are dealing with eight counties and 40 different municipalities and it just
becomes so contentious when people start saying, Douglas County you do this, Jefferson County
you do that. From a county perspective, it really becomes contentious. Its like how dare all
these other counties prioritize for us our open space acquisition. Its a little silly, but realistically
when you start dealing with 40 different municipalities and eight different counties you start
getting involved in all different kind of different priorities and egos and political realities. It gets
so complicated that I really question (if it works). What I see as being most effective, honestly,
55




is everybody doing their work in their back yard and Im not saying that regional planning is
impossible, but I see the most effectiveness really happening at the small level. We work on our
projects; you work on your projects, where it makes sense to work together we will. That
probably sounds real tuft oriented, but I think that is kind of the reality.
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/
Exhibit D
Interview with Jefferson County
Ken Foelske -Manager of Planning for the Open Space Program
How long have you been with Jefferson County Open Space?
About 27 years, I was fortunate enough to be here from basically the start so I have seen the
whole organization develop and all the issues raised and frankly it has been a real education in
seeing how the program has matured and what I refer to now as the program reaching critical
mass where everybody in the county supports the program, but there are some folks who take
issue with it, but Id say the most recent bond issue was a good indicator of the support. The
county went out after $160 million bond issue and it was supported by 76 percent of the voters,
which is unheard of in the sense of raising that kind of money and having that kind of support.
Its a critical mass, white-hot program right now and everybody understands that with the vote,
this has to happen now. Over $250 million has been spent on open space in Jefferson County
and when you say it in a quarter of a billion dollars, it kind of puts it in perspective but a lot of
funds have been committed to open space in terms of the county and I think it is money well
spent. This county would be drastically different if that money had not been acquired.
Prior to the current open space policies being put into place, was open preservation considered
important and was it done?
Well, previously the only vehicle that was in place prior to the Open Space program being
passed in 1972 was a dedication requirement that any development tad to dedicate 4 acres per
1000 of projected population in a development and we put the brakes on that and said wait. A
second neighborhood park and open space needs are way beyond 4 acres per 1000 and we got it
raised to 10.5 per 1000 and that is still in place, but that was the only vehicle of getting the
Planning Department to require developers to put aside parkland and open space for its residents
and its surrounding neighborhood communities. There was no requirement for any commercial
or business development. So consequently it was all related to residential and which its fine, it
addresses the neighborhood needs, but certainly doesnt address landmarks, trail corridors, trail
development, historic sites and on and on. The stuff we do now just as a matter of routine.
What criteria were used before any policy was put into place or before any preservation was
done?
Well, that dedication requirements and development regulations that spoke to no development
beyond 30 percent slopes without engineering and mitigation solutions. So, in other words you
could develop on areas above 30 percent slope but you had to supply engineering that addresses
all the constraints and problems. I mean if you are going to build a house on a 30 percent slope
there has to be assurances that the stuff that happened on Green Mountain, landslides and all this
stuff, wasnt going to be a problem You can understand that when you start cutting in roads on
a 30 percent slope you get cut and fill slopes that you can see from 20 miles away. So, this has
to be addressed and frankly the county has been pretty strict on not allowing development in
57


excessive slopes and landslide conditions, with the exception being what happened on Green
Mountain.
Since you have been there so long, you told me that you have been there since the beginning, I
am assuming that you helped implement the policies that are currently in place?
Yes.
What process was used to form that policy?
Well, everything goes back to a master plan. So we start with a plan about what is aspiring to be
accomplished in the long term and in the short term. Then developing policies that address those
goals.
So you developed the master plan before you had any policies then?
Well, we had an overall acquisition preservation plan that goes back to 1972. That was the basis
of what was supposed to be done and policies were developed to allow for that.
Did you use public participation, citizen surveys things like that?
Oh, yea. Everything we do goes through public review, public meetings, and critiques with a
draft. As a matter of fact, some of the policy parts of the master plan are actually developed
from public input and I mean theyre not based on staff or commissioner input they come from
the public.
Was any GIS information used as far as what areas needed to be preserved?
Yes, we go through various values in the county. Everything from visual to habitat to slope
constraints, dipping bedrock and on and on. Then they are melted together to come up with a
plan and again it goes through public review and comment.
How are the goals prioritized? For instance was a community buffer listed as number 1 or
was wildlife preservation/habitat listed as number l?
Probably the best word that could address priorities, is balance and everything from the local
balance, in the sense of having open space goals addressing all of the county so youre not just
concentrating on one area, to the land types that are being sought. So there is a balance between
trails, wildlife habitat, scenic, historic and having that all mesh. Then talking about that balance,
but then also addressing threat in the sense that which areas are under threat to being lost first.
What we are doing now is addressing the census information to come up with where the growth
has been and then projecting out into the future to figure out how we can get out ahead of it to
preserve that so the priorities are going to address growth pressures. Then finally the constraint
is budget. Even now we are raising $30 million a year, but that has to be addressed relative to the
growth because even with $30 million not everything can get done in one year. You have to
look at budget relative to those priorities.
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Would you say your primary way of preserving open space is through subdivision or would
you say through purchases?
Purchases, mainly it is through direct fee simple purchase. We do have some conservation
easements but in Jefferson County particularly in areas of high demand the conservation
easement can cost 75 to 90 percent of the value of the property so you might as well just buy the
whole bundle of sticks and consequently we have bought mainly land in total. We have also
done, like I mentioned, the dedication requirements of developers and development, but most of
it has been preserved, 45,000 acres, that we have in the current land inventory by far the vast
majority of that been through buying it directly.
Were regional implications considered in the open space preservation plan?
Oh, yes. We coordinate with City of Boulder, Boulder County, Douglas County and Department
of Energy on Rocky Flats with the buffer zone to make sure that stays open. Coordination with
the cities, recreation districts, state, state trail corridors, surrounding counties, I have already
mention Boulder, but even Clear Creek County on up and the impacts of surrounding counties
with the gaming communities, gambling up there, directing of traffic and impacts and how you
address that with open space and how that is put together; a lot of coordination.
If you see an open space tract that would be a nice wildlife corridor or a nice migration route
for wildlife would that be considered a high priority?
Oh yea. As a matter of fact, and that brings up coordination with the Division of Wildlife. They
have actually assisted with a lot of information and have participated in funding some open
space.
Are there plans through the Planning Department that are approved that aren *t in compliance
with the open space master plan ?
The Planning Department has the open space master plan and so any development that is
proposed they would immediately make the developer aware of the master plan. So if there is a
trail corridor or wildlife habitat any of these other issues, they must address these from the
beginning and that that it addressed in their development proposal.
So you try to maintain a partnership between open space and the development process?
Oh, sure. We sit at the table right from the beginning.
59


Full Text
The parks and recreation and open space master plan seeks to provide the basis
for the protection, preservation, acquisition and development of park and
recreation areas and open space in the Denver Metropolitan Area to meet the
present and future recreation needs of all of the residents of the Metropolitan Area
and to identify those sites and spaces which should be acquired and programmed
1*7
to meet the purposes of this objective.
While this was a bold statement for future open space planning, the report also
recognized that due to the fragmented governmental system, some PAROS agencies were unable
to afford and provide comprehensive acquisition, development and service programs. At the
time this report was written, 27 separate municipalities were functioning under 10 different
organizational structures and funding arrangements. In 1970, no single PAROS agency had the
tax base or a justifiable reason to provide regional parks in excess of 400 acres. The lack of a
viable funding program is the reason prohibiting adequate preservation and acquisition of
recreational facilities and open space. According to the report, without a regional PAROS
authority and inaction by the State of Colorado, little has been done in the preservation of
regional facilities in the Denver SMSA.18 The framers of the plan recognized the need for
parkland, recreation, and open space preservation, but they did not examine how to link open
space on a regional level.
The city and county of Denver has a rich history in open space and parkland preservation.
In an attempt to bring high society to the area and turn Denver from a town with a wild west
reputation to a family orientated place, the historic leaders of the area began an open space and
parkland preservation program which still impacts Denver and the surrounding areas today.
Continuing this tradition today, a number of counties have adopted comprehensive plans, which
include open space preservation or have comprehensive plans dedicated exclusively for open
space and parkland preservation. As was stated previously, three of the counties to be examined
in this paper are Boulder County, which has the longest history of open space preservation,
Jefferson County, and finally Douglas County. First the history of the Front Range will be
examined.
John Evans, the ex-governor of Colorado, was the first person to attempt a master plan
for parks in the Front Range area. Even though he had a master plan which affected the entire
area, only Park Avenue and City Park were built due to budget constraints.19
8