All City of Boulder administrative facilities, public libraries and Age Well Centers will be closed Monday, May 29, for the Memorial Day holiday. Some facilities and services will be open.
Learn more about many of the projects and programs City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) is conducting in 2023 to help maintain and improve our shared public lands.
Community members are invited to view OSMP’s 2023 Projects webmap to see this year’s ecology projects, agricultural lands restoration work, trailhead improvements, and trail construction projects. Click on each project site on the webmap to learn more about what is happening at that location!
In addition to the Open House held Apr. 25 and the projects webmap, select projects and programs are featured below. Learn more about the following OSMP efforts:
The Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Trails Program is gearing up in 2023 to build, repair, and maintain the trails that bring you to the places you enjoy!
We invite you to explore the online interactive webmap where you can click on project locations to learn more about each of them. In addition to the major project sites shown on this map, OSMP crews will carry out many smaller trail repair projects throughout the 155-mile trail system. In fact, upwards of 70 people may be working on OSMP trails on any given workday – a combination of OSMP Trail Crews, Junior Ranger crews, youth corps crews, volunteers, and contractors!
What projects are prioritized? OSMP undertakes a thoughtful work planning process annually, which includes:
Anticipated budgets and workforce capacity, allocating resources to the highest needs.
OSMP’s Master Plan PDF provides broad guidance for project prioritization – including an emphasis on repairing existing trails.
OSMP land management plans (such as Trail Study Area Plans) outline specific trail projects.
Trail Condition Monitoring data identifies trail problems due to weathering or use.
Emergent priorities, such as fires and floods, may also prioritize certain trails.
OSMP strives to provide high-quality trail experiences for all visitors, including people with disabilities, families with young children, older adults, and adaptive recreationists. Where feasible, we utilize guidance from the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and the US Forest Service Accessibility Guidelines (FSTAG) to design and construct trails for universal enjoyment and access.
Find more detailed information on our accessible trails.
These guidelines do not mandate that all trails be designed and constructed for accessibility, but rather that agencies should build to the most accessible standard possible as allowed by local terrain, resource protection and prevailing construction practices. Wherever feasible, OSMP works to improve accessibility by constructing:
A firm and stable trail surface wide enough for wheelchairs
Modest trail grades (steepness)
Bridges with appropriate railings and gaps in decking that permit wheels to roll safely across
OSMP owns several adaptive mountain bikes (aMTB’s – a type of all-terrain wheelchair) for the express purpose of exploring a wider variety of challenging terrain for visitors with disabilities. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about adaptive cycling on OSMP trails, please contact Education & Outreach Program Manager Topher Downham.
Each year, OSMP Trails Volunteer Program engages hundreds of volunteers from the Boulder Community and the greater Denver-metro area to construct and maintain OSMP trails. The program anticipates hosting 40+ projects in 2023, ranging from family-friendly projects like National Trails Day to difficult, highly-technical projects like Saddle Rock Trail repairs. This work helps reduce OSMP’s maintenance backlog, protects valuable natural resources, and provides a more enjoyable visitor experience.
How to get involved? Events open to the community can be found on Count Me In Boulder.
Our 2023 projects include:
Saturday, June 3 – National Trails Day – 1st-2nd Flatiron Trail, Saddle Rock Trail, & High Plains Trail
Thursday Evening Mountainbike Trail Events at North Sky Trail – Every 2nd Thursday evening from May – September from 5:00 p.m. to dusk. OSMP is excited to partner with Boulder Mountainbike Alliance on the 2nd Thursday evening throughout the Summer to help construct the North Sky Trail! More information and registration is at BoulderMountainBike.org.
Trail Work Tuesdays & Wednesdays – Every Tuesday & Wednesday from June – August Join the City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks for Trail Work Tuesdays & Wednesdays to help build new North Sky Trail (starting in mid-late June).
Saturday, September 23 – National Public Lands Day – Project TBD.
If you would like to organize a project for your company, organization, or group, please contact Trail Volunteer Program Manager, Beau Clark, at 720-899-2048 or Clarkb@bouldercolorado.gov.
OSMP conducts trail condition monitoring on a 5-year cycle. Using the High Efficiency Trail Assessment Program (HETAP), grade, outslope, width, surface type and firmness, a photo, and problems such as soil loss are recorded at about 20 foot intervals. The condition of built infrastructure (such as steps, walls, and bridges) is also inspected and recorded. From this data, each trail segment is given a condition score that can be tracked over time to examine the trends in the condition of the trail system. The second 5-year monitoring cycle will be completed in 2023.
OSMP lands have over 150 miles of undesignated trails – otherwise known as social trails. These are routes that have been worn in over time by visitors, and not purposefully planned, designed, or built with consideration to ecological impacts or sustainability. OSMP works to close and restore these undesignated trails to protect native plants, wildlife, and habitat; and when called for in area management plans, construct sustainable designated trails to replace them. Reducing undesignated trails is a Tier 2 strategy for Ecosystem Health and Resiliency in OSMP’s Master Plan (2019).
In 2023, the undesignated trail crew will address 3-5 miles of undesignated trails through active restoration with the help of conservation corps and volunteers.
Here is a snapshot of some of the trail work completed last year by OSMP trail crews, Junior Ranger crews, youth corps crews, contractors, and volunteers!
Completion of work on the following trail projects:
Anemone Hill Loop Trail: Finish work was completed on this new nearly 3-mile loop trail.
Bear Canyon Trail: A two-thirds mile re-route to improve wetland habitat and trail sustainability started in 2021 was fully completed.
Finished a 5-year push to rebuild several failing sections of tread on the 1st/2nd Flatiron Trail.
Added much needed stairs to Sentinel Pass on the Royal Arch trail.
Here is just some of the type of work completed on OSMP trails in 2022:
3,000 hours on routine trail maintenance.
Over 7.5 miles of tread constructed or repaired to reduce deferred maintenance issues.
52 tons of stone quarried, bagged, and helicoptered to Mt. Sanitas for stone steps.
Installed over 350 new timber steps and stone stairs throughout the system.
Over 300 tons of material used to re-surface trails.
840 volunteers worked a total of 4562 hours on over 50 trail projects! This has a dollar value of $136,632, and an immeasurable value towards land conservation and enjoyment of OSMP visitors!
The Trailheads Program is responsible for the maintenance and management of all Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) trailheads and access points, including all associated visitor infrastructure, providing welcoming and accessible amenities that serve as a transition from the built urban environment to the natural lands of OSMP.
The Trailheads Maintenance crew manages 36 trailheads and 76 access points by staggering staff through the week to provide consistent service for our core duties.
Trailhead’s core duties include:
The Trailhead team also manages and maintains much of the visitor infrastructure on OSMP, which includes:
Staff is also supported in these efforts by volunteers, contract crews and community service.
Trailheads create an ecotone between the built environment and the OSMP system. This habitat supports visitors in taking cues from native, water-wise and fire-wise ‘climate-ready’ plantings to inspire responsible and beautiful landscapes throughout our community. Plantings at upcoming trailhead renovations will contribute those updates, as will various other appropriate trailheads. The program aims to reduce invasive plants entering the system and provide an opportunity for volunteers to engage in stewardship in easy to access locations.
Anticipated Construction: Winter 2023-24
Trailhead improvements will expand visitor facilities for Chapman Drive Trail, the Boulder Canyon Trail, and associated open space-related activities allowed in the area. This infrastructure will manage and direct visitors to designated trails and away from important surrounding habitat.
The new design will increase parking efficiency, include accessible parking, and horse trailer/large vehicle parking. OSMP is partnering with Boulder County to include construction of a pedestrian bridge connection from the Boulder Canyon Trail across Boulder Creek to the Chapman Drive trailhead.
Anticipated Construction: Winter 2024-25
Leveraging utility upgrades in the area, trailhead improvements at Sawhill Ponds will include bus parking and turnaround, improved drainage, a new fishing pier, and trailhead plantings. Visitor facilities will include accessible parking, with connections to the fishing pier, picnic areas, and trailhead.
Completed: August 2022
Renovated parking sits within the existing footprint and improves traffic flow and safe parking maneuvers. The new asphalt surface is supported by sub-grade improvements that reduce drainage issues and increase the longevity of the asphalt. New seeding and plantings focus on hearty native grasses and shrubs.
Completed: November 2022
Trailhead improvements shift the entrance to improve traffic flow and relocate large vehicle parking farther from the trail access, reserving the area for these vehicles. Walkways and a gathering area improve visitor safety at the trailhead. Demonstration plantings of some of our most important prairie grasses will create a beautiful and educational display.
Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP’s) Ecological and Vegetation Stewardship programs carry out a wide variety of projects to study and monitor wildlife and plant species in the ecosystems that encompass OSMP. Additionally, we implement the department’s overarching resource management plans like the Forest Ecosystem Management Plan and the Grassland Management Plan through projects such as ecological restoration, forest thinning, and weed management to protect, enhance, and restore the natural systems of OSMP – learn more about these efforts at the projects webmap.
The Human Dimensions program works to develop a fundamental understanding of human behaviors, actions and attitudes within the Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) system to foster resource conservation, high-quality visitor experiences and encourage public trust through transparent visitor management based upon objective information.
The Human Dimensions team collects visitation data to understand the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How Many of visitors to open space.
We collect this information through many different methods including on-site visitor surveys, trail counters, vehicle counters, cameras, and observation.
Our team has used all these methods over the past year to better understand visitor demographics, activities, opinions, behavior, as well as visitation levels, patterns, distributions, and trends across the system. We are continually expanding and developing new methods to help inform management decisions.
The Human Dimensions team provides in-house data analysis and interpretation services to help gain data-driven insights about recreation management on OSMP lands. Some of our key data analysis and interpretation services include:
We provide statistical analysis for all of our visitor surveys which helps us understand differences and similarities across a wide-array of different visitor groups.
Visitation and Parking Counts
We have developed a robust Visitation Statistics Program focused on analyzing and modeling visitation counts so that we can better understand when, where, and how visitors use OSMP lands.
The Human Dimensions team is continuing to pioneer data visualization platforms (such as PowerBI and our Visitation Data Explorer) to provide easier and more timely access to data for both staff and the public.
We provide custom data analysis requests to help support planning and operations, including integration and synthesis of internal and external datasets in order to provide objective information about the state of myriad recreation dynamics on OSMP lands.
By making data more accessible the Human Dimensions team aims to increase utilization and application through:
Knowledge and awareness
Creating shared understandings between staff, board and the public.
Supporting sustainable resource management, along with high-quality visitor experiences, through establishing relationships between recreation and other managed resources.
Setting thresholds and defining success.
Informing planning documents, operations, resource allocation and other departmental efforts.
Supporting Master Plan implementation, adaptive management and transparency in decision making.
The Agricultural and Water Stewardship team is working across the system on both leased and unleased agricultural lands to improve soil health, restore vegetation, increase irrigation efficiency, address deferred maintenance and breathe new life into existing structures to make them functional for agriculture today.
The Cultural Stewardship Program is responsible for managing cultural resources on Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) land. Cultural resources are sites, features, artifacts, and landscapes evaluated to be 50 years or older that provide information about the history of the Boulder Valley.
Based on previous cultural resource surveys, there are over 1,800 known cultural resources on OSMP land, however, new cultural resources are frequently encountered by staff or by citizens. In an effort to preserve important information about the past, the department is providing the following guidance for people who may encounter newly discovered cultural resources across the system. Finding Pieces of the Past PDF.
The Ertl House rehabilitation was part of the effort to improve the Ertl property at 8323 Valmont Road. The house was built circa 1900 and was in need of repair and modernization. Construction began in the Fall of 2020 and was complete about a year later in the Fall of 2021.
View photos of the progress in the gallery below.
The Lewis House at 1199 N 75th Street was built in four phases, the oldest being the front of the house, which was built circa 1880. Rehabilitation began in the Summer of 2022 and will continue until the Fall of 2023. It will serve as a residence for the tenant of the adjacent agricultural property.
View photos of the progress in the gallery below.
The Fox Stone Barn at 1226 S. Cherryvale Road is on the National Register of Historic Places. The barn was built circa 1900 of locally quarried stone and is one of the last barns of its kind in Boulder County. It was severely damaged in the Marshall Fire of December, 2021 in spite of the fire crew's best efforts. History Colorado awarded OSMP a State Historic Fund grant for a Historic Structures Assessment, which is now part of a FEMA site review process through which funds will be sought to restore the area. Work to restore the barn is scheduled to begin after the FEMA site review, hopefully later this year.
View photos of the progress in the gallery below.
Community Connections and Partnerships serves as a direct interface with visitors, volunteers, and the community; taking into consideration the visitor experience, recreation, and stewardship of Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) lands.
The Education and Outreach team works to connect people to the land. Through conversations and programming, we strive to co-create meaningful, relevant, welcoming, and inclusive experiences that heighten understanding and appreciation of OSMP.
The volunteerism, service learning and partnership team connects people to the land and to each other through hands-on, field-based volunteerism, service-learning, and partnership opportunities. This includes one-day and on-going volunteer opportunities as well as the Junior Ranger Program, and the Boulder Open Space Conservancy (BOSC)
The full scope of a City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) ranger’s duties can seem as expansive as the landscape itself. From emergency response and law enforcement to education and resource protection, the skill sets required of rangers are not only wide ranging and complex, but at times life-saving and critical to the protection of rare species or important habitat. You can find us out on the trails welcoming visitors and providing information about this amazing land system. We are happy to announce the reintroduction of our Mounted Patrol program starting soon in 2023.