Parks Briefs: Ongoing, upcoming trail projects and other news items

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By Corinne Westeman

Conservation Greenprint

With the Denver metro area’s growth expected to continue growing at 2 percent a year, Jeffco Open Space has identified five big-picture key initiatives to continue addressing the challenges its parks have seen because of increasing growth. All of these initiatives are ongoing, and JCOS staff have already started on several of them.

“Growth impacts us in a fairly exponential way because we’re so close to the largest urbanized area in the state,” Parks Director Tom Hoby told Jeffco commissioners at a May 8 staff briefing. “We are the first real Colorado foothill and mountain experience.”

Unlike other Front Range counties, Jeffco has very little National Forest land — only 108,000 acres of National Forest’s 2.7 million in the Front Range.

“While the other Front Range counties get the benefit of those National Forest lands to balance that (growth), we don’t,” Hoby continued. “ ... We really are in this situation of ‘little bit of land, lot of people’... (and) we’re not able to take land out of rotation because we don’t have the scale of the land that National Forest does.”

The five key initiatives are:

• Acquire additional open space and parklands because, Hoby said, “Population is not going to decrease, only increase.”

• Enhance stewardship of existing JCOS lands and assets, such as implementing tools to reduce visitor impacts and maximizing volunteerism and partnerships.

• Increase trail development, connectivity and designated use, which would also include direction trail use for cyclists, Hoby said.

• Expand visitor management practices to better communicate to people about parking, peak hours, special events and so forth.

• Emphasize visitor stewardship education.

“The people who are moving here are moving here for the lifestyle and, ironically, people seem to have less time and less disposable income, so that means they’re going to stay closer to home,” Hoby said. “We expect visitation to continue to go up, at least equal to the population growth, which is 2 percent a year.”

Upcoming events

According to Matt Robbins, JCOS’ community connections manager, Hiwan Homestead Museum will be celebrating its centennial from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 23.

Open Space will be partnering with several Evergreen entities to host a fun day with live music, demonstrations, food trucks and a new exhibit, Robbins said.

“It’s going to be a good time for people to come out, even if they’ve never been there before,” he said.

Other upcoming events, Robbins said, include:

• Today, there will be a land stewardship series on amphibians and reptiles at Open Space’s main office in Golden.

• Reynolds Park will host a wildflower walk from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Attendees can join a native plant master for free, but they must register online beforehand. The event is open to ages 10 and older.

• Also on May 20, Hiwan Homestead’s Grove will host a new event — Yoga in the Grove with Studio B Evergreen. The event will be from 11 a.m. to noon, and is free with no registration. Yoga in the Grove will be ongoing during the summer.

• Hiwan will also host a Bear Education Station from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 27. It is free with no registration.

Dinosaur Ridge Master Plan

In February, Jeffco awarded a grant to Dinosaur Ridge to do a master plan to include the visitor’s center and area along West Alameda Parkway.

During the May 8 staff briefing, Hoby explained that Open Space will be working with Friends of Dinosaur Ridge as it has more resources and connections. Open Space will be hiring a consultant, which it will put out to contract soon.

According to Hoby, the consultant would do a complete inventory of the site and a drainage study, look at the possibility of a cover for the tracks, identify visitor center needs and locations, and study how the roadway is used.

Work at mountain area parks

The county will be granting an easement to the Intermountain Rural Electric Association near Meyer Ranch Park to allow for underground power lines to be put it.

JCOS will be doing parking lot restoration work this week at Lair o’ the Bear park and Alderfer/Three Sisters’ western trailhead.

Grant application

Jeffco intends to apply for Great Outdoors Colorado’s (GOCO) Conservation Excellence Grant program.

Hoby said the county would like to partner with other agencies to apply for one of these grants to look at doing visitor surveys at trailheads to find out effectiveness of signs, communications, etc.

The grants are due on June 1 and will be awarded in August.