The Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department Funds Scientific Inquiry on OSMP Lands on an Annual Cycle.

Due Dates

  • Request for proposals issued: Nov 9, 2020
  • Proposal deadline: Jan 11, 2021*
  • Award notifications: Feb 22, 2021

*Deadline extensions will not be made.

Important Information 

  • Proposals will be reviewed on a competitive basis, with preference given to proposals that address Priority Project Topics. However, all proposals will be considered based on their merits.
  • The maximum award amount is capped at $10,000. Details on allowable expenses can be found in the budget worksheet. Overhead costs should not exceed 15 percent of the total grant award except in rare circumstances. Funding commitments are limited to an annual basis, but multi-year projects are encouraged, especially for studies in which year-to-year variation may influence results.
  • Proposals must follow the format guidelines exactly.
  • Project extensions will be considered, but the proposal must be for work that is above and beyond the scope of previously funded work (i.e., not just a proposal to complete the uncompleted work scoped previously).
  • A single PI may submit multiple proposals.
  • OSMP reserves the right to acquire and share with other researchers any grant-related intellectual property/work products, such as datasets, field protocols/manuals, and reports. Proposals received may be shared on our webpage, whether they are funded or not.
  • Submit proposals to
  • Proposals that do not require OSMP funding may be submitted through our unfunded research program.

Proposal Format Details

Proposals not adhering to the following guidelines will be returned for revision without review.

  • Figures and tables embedded in the text.
  • 1-inch margins all around.
  • 12-point font.
  • Double line spacing.
  • 8 page maximum, excluding cover page, references, budget, and personnel qualifications.
  • All content is combined into a single PDF document.
  • Use the exact section numbers and names described below to mark the sections of document (i.e., above the abstract, write "Section 1: Abstract").

Cover page

  • Proposal title.
  • Names of and affiliation of each researcher.
  • Identify the lead principal investigator and include his/her contact information.
  • Date of the proposal.

Section 1: Abstract (300 words maximum)

  • Explain the relevance of and need for the proposed work.
    • Is the work related to a priority research topic? If so, which one(s)?
    • If not, explain why this work is important and timely.
  • Identify problems and response variables.
  • Work location(s), and timeline.
  • Outline general methods.
  • Describe how results will contribute to natural resource management and/or conservation or human dimensions goals on OSMP lands.

Section 2: Introduction (1-4 paragraphs)

  • Briefly describe the problem to be addressed and its origin(s).
  • Local/regional context and relevance.
  • Explain how information from this work will benefit natural resource management and conservation, or recreation management, on OSMP lands.
  • Provide with this information a scientific literature review covering relevant prior work related to the project.
  • Include any previous work of key project personnel.
  • Include one or more clearly stated objective(s) or hypotheses.
  • Describe the anticipated value of the research to furthering of scientific knowledge and public education.

Section 3: Methods (1 – 5 paragraphs)

  • Methods should detail the tasks necessary to achieve each objective, and how each task will be carried out.
  • Methods should adhere to sound scientific principles.
  • Please include descriptions of
    • Field and analytical methods.
    • Study area description and maps.
    • A project schedule.
    • A detailed explanation of any potential to harm natural, social, or cultural resources on OSMP properties.
  • To conclude the methods, describe, in a bulleted list
    • All major facilities and equipment to be used in support of this project in sufficient detail to demonstrate adequacy.
    • For example, indicate whether there are suitable field equipment, vehicles, laboratory and office space and equipment, life support systems for organisms, and computers.
    • Identify and justify any special or high-cost equipment to be purchased with funds requested in this proposal.

Section 4: Anticipated Results and Discussion (1 – 3 paragraphs)

  • Describe what the anticipated results of the research will be, and discuss their relevancy to local and regional issues. If useful, include a list of predicted results.
  • Conclude this section by clearly identifying all deliverables (e.g., reports, presentations, habitat enhancements, etc.), in a bulleted list, that will result from this work and describe the purpose that each product is intended to meet.

Section 5: Relationships to existing projects (1 paragraph)

  • Please indicate whether (and how) this project is a collaborative effort with other proposed or existing projects, specifically those in the northern Colorado Front Range area.
  • If this project requires any special permitting, explain the permit status and provide name of permit holder/applicant.
  • If you are aware of any potential conflict between this proposal and an ongoing project, explain.
  • If applicable, explain how this proposal is part of a larger regional effort involving multiple projects or multiple partners.

Section 6: Project history for continuing projects (1 paragraph)

  • If this project is part of an ongoing study, please provide a brief history of past goals and accomplishments.
  • List the years underway, past costs (amount received by year), summary of major results, project reports and technical papers, and relevant adaptive management implications.

Section 7: References

  • Provide full citations for all scientific and technical documents that are referenced in the proposal.

Section 8: Budget

  • Provide a detailed, itemized budget in table format.
  • Include information for all personnel, equipment, goods and services, and other items (e.g. per diem), required to complete the work described in this proposal.
  • Also include overhead costs.
  • Subtotal within each category and provide a grand total.
  • Please use the budget worksheet.

Section 9: Personnel qualifications

  • On one page, include names, titles, anticipated level of participation (in full-time equivalent hours), and how each will participate on the project.
  • On subsequent pages, include a curriculum vitae (CV) for each key personnel (i.e. principal investigators, project managers, primary subcontractors, academic advisors).
  • Each CV should be no more than 2 pages long.


  • All successful applicants are required to abide by City of Boulder OSMP rules and regulations.
  • All research and related projects conducted on City of Boulder OSMP lands will have oversight provided by an OSMP staff member.
  • Successful applicants must sign a volunteer register and waiver of liability.
  • Anyone may apply. Students must submit a signed letter from an academic advisor to confirm that the proposal has been reviewed, approved, and is supported. Faculty sponsors are responsible for providing the final report should the student fail to submit one.

Important Information About Fund Disbursement

Funds payment schedules for all funded projects will be determined jointly with successful applicants. Final payments may be held until OSMP project sponsors receive relevant deliverables described in the project proposal and related contract documents.

Recent Awards

You can find out information about recent awards at the OSMP Funded Research Projects page.

Example of a Successful Proposal

Thanks to Julie Larson for allowing us to share her successful proposal from 2018. We share it to provide an example of how to format a proposal. You can find the file here: Larson 2018.

Interagency Research Proposals

OSMP, Boulder County Parks and Open Space (BCPOS) and Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) are happy to announce that they will once again consider proposals for research that cross their land boundaries.

Working with multiple agencies can have many benefits: for example, researchers can use a broader spatial extent, access a greater number of environments and environmental histories, use a larger breadth of methods, and attract more funding. These benefits make for higher quality research studies and help facilitate inter-agency collaboration and understanding.

Here are the custom procedures for applying to work with >1 land agency:

  1. You should create just one proposal for submission to multiple agencies. Follow the proposal format guidelines for OSMP.
  2. In addition to the regular proposal, please add to the top of your proposal an additional cover page (one page maximum) formatted as follows:
  • Title: Your title
  • Subtitle: "This proposal is for consideration by both X and Y agencies," where X and Y are the two (or three) agencies involved.
  • Section 1: Importance of the proposed research to each agency
    • Briefly describe the unique benefits that each agency will receive.
  • Section 2: Correspondence history
    • Briefly describe the history of your correspondence with staff about the research.
  • Section 3: Funding request
    • Please specify how much you are requesting from each agency, in a bulleted list. For example:
      • OSMP: $8,500
      • BCPOS: $5,100
      • JCOS: $10,000

3. When you submit your proposal, be sure to cc the appropriate parties from each agency.

Note: Interagency grants are not guaranteed to be funded by all agencies; the proposals should still be stand alone projects if one agency decides not to fund it.

Priority Research Project Topics

Preference will be given to original proposals that address topics identified below. However, all proposals will be considered based on their merits.

Top Topics for 2021 (in no particular order)

  • Given the potential for changing environmental conditions, what is the risk profile for urban-wildland interface on the west edge of Boulder in the next 5 to 25 years? How would you model fuel types and growth to understand the wildland fire risk and the efficacy of potential mitigations to reduce that risk?
  • Soundscape research and management: How can we understand, protect, and enjoy acoustic environments? Subtopics of interest include overflights management, consequences of noise to wildlife, and planning for soundscapes protection.
  • How does OSMP contribute to public well-being and quality of life / what is the value generated? (e.g., Psychological, emotional, physical, mental, economical, physical health, etc.)
  • How does OSMP relate/contribute to the local economy?
  • Should OSMP invest in drones for research and monitoring? What is the feasibility/success of using drones for monitoring/research specifically relevant to OSMP (e.g., invasive species, soil disturbance, phenology) and comparisons of traditional ground-based to remote techniques?
  • How can OSMP use crowdsourced location data to augment visitation studies? What are the barriers to using crowdsourced data are and strategies to overcome them? What strategies can be used to test accuracy?
  • What are the effects of Esplanade (Indaziflam) on non-target organisms like soil microorganisms and native annuals?

Additional research topics of interest, by category

Wildlife Ecology

  • Habitat use and ecology of Preble’s meadow jumping mouse on OSMP, especially as related to influences of land management (grazing, restoration, trail development, etc.).
  • Investigate nesting success, productivity, and breeding chronology of grassland birds nesting in irrigated hayfields, including impacts of agricultural management on nesting success.
  • Examine impact of grassland bird closures on reproductive success of grassland birds and/or relationships between grazing and nesting success.
  • Investigate new non-insecticidal control mechanisms for sylvatic plague in prairie dogs.
  • Investigate success and feasibility of novel approaches to prairie dog exclusion.
  • Research related to new or emerging non-lethal tools for prairie dog population management (e.g. contraceptives)
  • What are the comparative effects of different prairie dog relocation methods on native prairie communities? Are there practical and effective alternatives to prairie dog nesting boxes (e.g., directional boring)?
  • What are the effects of New Zealand mud snails on lotic ecology? Are there impacts on aquatic biodiversity?

Vegetation Management

  • What is the influence of trail building and trail use on invasive species spread?
  • How do we best reclaim degraded lands and track success over time?
  • What is the vulnerability of wetland/riparian communities to invasion by non-native plant species?
  • What is the carbon footprint of mechanical vs. herbicide treatments?
  • What are the best methods of rangeland monitoring that can guide management decisions?

Agricultural Land Restoration

  • What is the current condition of pollinator and other beneficial insect habitat on OSMP’s agricultural lands? How do we improve conditions in areas with poor populations of pollinators and other beneficial insects?
  • What agricultural methods (grazing, haying, irrigation) can be economically productive in the presence of prairie dogs?

Wetland Ecology

  • How can we manage hydrologic regimes, including managed water releases, to benefit the aquatic communities?
  • How vulnerable are OSMP-managed wetlands to climate change?
  • What are the impacts of commercial mosquito management methods on non-target species in Boulder?
  • What are the best approaches to understand and prevent nutrient loading, sources of pollution and harmful algal blooms?

Recreation/Visitor Experience

  • What are visitor expectations prior to visiting OSMP (what do they expect once they get here), and how are those expectations formed? Are they met?
  • Does education or messaging impact behavioral outcomes? What are the OSMP visitor behavioral drivers?
  • What are visitor perception of crowding? What is the acceptability of different management options to reduce crowding?

Recreation Ecology

  • How do OSMP’s dog regulations impact habitat? For example, is there higher weed density/diversity on trails where dogs are allowed off-leash compared to on-leash or no-dog trails?
  • Can we quantify changes in wildlife utilization in areas adjacent to successfully closed/restored undesignated trails?
  • Do fenced vs. unfenced trail corridors influence grassland bird abundance and / or diversity differently? Does fencing trail corridors affect nesting success/fecundity?
  • How do soil types on OSMP relate to trail condition/sustainability? Can an index of type vs. sustainability aid in trail planning?
  • Conduct new research on the impacts of visitor use on resources such as plants, wildlife, soils, water quality or insects. This could include potential impacts on spatial or temporal habitat use by native wildlife, impacts of night-time human use on wildlife, impacts of dogs, or changes in wildlife community composition.

Soil Ecology

  • How does forest management impact soil moisture and fertility?
  • What are the best and most practical methods to enhance soil quality in tilled fields, especially wheat-fallow?
  • How does improved soil health on OSMP lands enhance flood mitigation?

Plant Ecology/Restoration Ecology

  • How can we use LIDAR data to understand fire behavior or forest composition?
  • Are there genetic changes in native grass cultivars after decades, and if there are, how might those changes effect plant traits that relate to long-term restoration success?
  • How can we use our newly digitized herbarium to study some aspect of plant geography, ecology or morphology?
  • What is the productivity of our long-term grassland monitoring sites? How can we measure this without direct disturbance to the plots?
  • How can we best measure or estimate water availability in our grasslands and at what types of sites would we expect the most limitations on water availability?

Communication / Outreach

  • How much does the public trust us in managing the land for the future? Does higher trust make people less likely to engage in public processes?
  • What is the best way to inform/engage college students in open space engagement efforts? What is the best way to draw their interest? What way is most likely to drive them to engage?

Cultural and Scenic Resources

  • Does publicizing cultural resource presence through signage and interpretation to visitors adversely affect the resource's integrity? Is information availability correlated to integrity in other public lands contexts? Is constraining information available an effective strategy to protect cultural resources?
  • Who were the people referenced by inscriptions at White Rocks? What are their connections to the Boulder area?