The climate crisis is affecting Boulder's diverse and sensitive natural areas right now.
More frequent and extreme natural disasters are a reality on our shared Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) lands.
Flood: The 2013 flood, which caused $27 million in municipal property damage and $300 million worth of private property damage in Boulder, and $4 billion in damage across 24 counties, is one example. Floodwaters had caused extensive infrastructure damage across open space, including extensive damage to trails, agricultural infrastructure, and natural areas.
Fire: The region is seeing more frequent and intense wildfires, like the 2020 CalWood fire which was the largest in Boulder County history at over 10,000 acres burned. Wildfires like these can kill mature trees, sterilize soils, and lead to soil erosion.
Drought: Hotter temperatures and earlier snowmelt create increasingly arid, drought conditions and less reliable water sources.
Plants and Wildlife: In addition to natural disasters like fires and floods, land managers are seeing changes in where plants grow, the timing of pollinators and migratory birds, and increased spread of undesirable weed species and pests that can thrive under the warmer conditions.
Visitors: Impacts to recreational visitors could include reduced air quality and views due to wildfire, more summer days above 95°F, more noxious weeds, more muddy trails in winter, and less of the wildlife species they are used to seeing.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom; OSMP is preparing for these impacts, and you can help!