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  1. #1
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    Defining Passive Recreation Uses for TOPS Open Space Properties

    Information you might be interested in.

    From the 10-13-11 meeting minutes.
    http://www.springsgov.com/Files/101311%20Minutes.pdf


    Defining Passive Recreation Uses for TOPS Open Space Properties (Item 8)


    Sarah Bryarly, Interim Manager of Design, Development and TOPS, said TOPS open spaces
    are managed in accordance with the TOPS Ordinance. The TOPS Program strives to provide a
    variety of recreational experiences at TOPS open spaces. The management requirements for
    TOPS acquired “open spaces” are significantly different from “park” properties, such as Garden
    of the Gods and Palmer Park, and other parklands acquired with non-TOPS resources.


    The TOPS Ordinance expressly limits use of TOPS funded open space properties to passive
    recreation.
    The TOPS Ordinance states: “Open Space lands shall serve one or more of the
    following functions… preservation of land for education opportunities and outdoor recreation
    areas limited to passive recreation use, including but not limited to hiking, photography or nature
    studies, and if specifically designated, bicycling, horseback riding or fishing.”


    At the September 2, 2009 TOPS Working Committee meeting, the committee began the
    discussion on how to better define the term passive recreation. After a lengthy discussion the
    item was postponed to a later date. At the March 2, 2011 TOPS Working Committee meeting it
    was determined that a subcommittee of two members and one Parks Board liaison would meet
    to formulate criteria on how to differentiate passive from active recreation.

    The subcommittee utilized the following goals to start formulating the proposed criteria:
    - Not to diminish the “resource values” of the Open Spaces (noise, wildlife, education, vista, etc.)
    - The open space needs to remain open to the public at all times
    - No trace left (therefore, no major maintenance costs/efforts incurred)
    - The Open Space is not intended to be a funding generator for various organizations and
    non-profits


    The following is a list of criteria that the sub-committee established to help Parks staff determine
    if a specific activity could be permitted within an open space. The Master Plan and
    Management Plans for each open space will be utilized to determine the resource values.

    Criteria 1. Will the Open Space resource values be diminished as outlined in the Open Space’s
    Master Plan, the Forest Health Management Plan / Maintenance Management Plan,
    or generally accepted guidance?
    • If YES then activity is not allowed
    • If NO continue to Criteria 2

    Criteria 2 Will event effectively close or significantly limit use of the Open Space in whole or part
    to the public?

    • If YES then activity is not allowed
    • If NO continue to Criteria 3

    Criteria 3. Will event leave anything behind and/or trace (even chalk marks, flags, litter, graffiti,
    waste, etc.)?

    • If YES then what is the trace?
    o If trace CANNOT be removed then activity is not allowed
    • If NO continue to Criteria 4 and 5

    Criteria 4. For informational use only: Will the event charge a fee or generate funds for an
    organization or business?


    Criteria 5. Are there any other elements/components, which would weigh against permitting the
    requested activity?


    If an activity can answer no for all of the criteria, and does not diminish the natural resources,
    then the event or activity would be permitted within the open space. If the answer to any of the
    criteria is yes then the event or activity would not be permitted within the open space. By
    providing criteria and guidance, the Parks Department has a consistent method for evaluating
    proposed events from outside organizers.

    Staff asked representatives from the various Friends Groups, from both the open spaces and
    regional parks, to review the criteria and provide either written comments or attend the TOPS
    Working Committee Meeting to express likes, dislikes, positives or concerns they may have with
    the criteria. The criteria was distributed at the Volunteer Stewardship Committee meeting on
    May 4th. After revisions were made at the July TOPS Working Committee meeting, the criteria
    was resent to the Friends Groups for comments. Comments received, where appropriate, were
    incorporated in the proposed criteria.

    Staff recommended approval of the Passive Recreation Criteria
    In response to the Board members’ questions, Ms. Bryarly provided the following responses:
    - Fire safety/access is not covered in this plan. Any activities which will be against the Forest
    Management Plan will not be permitted.
    - This plan will help staff manage passive recreation easier.
    - This plan will apply to all TOPS acquired open spaces and trails.
    - Currently, there is no permitting policy for open space areas.
    - Recreation within open spaces may be difficult to approve.
    - In response to Chair Reinhardt regarding adding the City under Criteria 4, Scot Hume said
    that the TOPS Committee discussed that and thought the City would fall under the term
    “organization”.
    - The criteria states what is allowed and not in terms of emergency access.
    Chair Reinhardt asked if the word “impact” could be used instead of “against” in Criteria 5. Ms.
    Bryarly said that staff can modify that.

    Chair Reinhardt asked for public comment.

    Susan Davies, Executive Director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC), said that
    TOSC was asked to comment on the plan during the process and believes that this is an
    excellent road map. This provides opportunities for activities in open space areas.

    Jackie Hilaire made a motion to approve the Passive Recreation Criteria. Motion
    seconded by Charles Castle and carried unanimously.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by UncleTrail View Post
    Information you might be interested in.

    Criteria 2 Will event effectively close or significantly limit use of the Open Space in whole or part
    to the public?

    • If YES then activity is not allowed
    • If NO continue to Criteria 3
    I wonder how this factors into the 24 Hours of Ute scheduled for next summer?
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiahh View Post
    I wonder how this factors into the 24 Hours of Ute scheduled for next summer?
    24 hours of Ute? Please, do tell...
    baker

  4. #4
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    Very interesting move in the works- Limiting or closing the open space to the public could exclude any event but seems geared towards any MTB event; a running race might not have to "close" a trail for the safety or the public or participants but presumably an MTB race should have some off limits areas.

    But it only addresses TOPS purchased open space so existing city parks like Palmer or Ute Valley would be exempt from the rules. Cheyenne Mtn would be tricky- it was partially purchased with TOPS funds and it was strictly written that TOPS funds were used to purchase the upper sections to bypass the no development (campgrounds, etc) requirement of TOPS funding. Races in the park probably use some of the trails that are part of those upper sections.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by teleken View Post
    Very interesting move in the works- Limiting or closing the open space to the public could exclude any event but seems geared towards any MTB event; a running race might not have to "close" a trail for the safety or the public or participants but presumably an MTB race should have some off limits areas.

    But it only addresses TOPS purchased open space so existing city parks like Palmer or Ute Valley would be exempt from the rules. Cheyenne Mtn would be tricky- it was partially purchased with TOPS funds and it was strictly written that TOPS funds were used to purchase the upper sections to bypass the no development (campgrounds, etc) requirement of TOPS funding. Races in the park probably use some of the trails that are part of those upper sections.
    You're pretty much spot on TK. This is part of someone's agenda.

    I wonder if they thought about this though?
    Criteria 1 could be used as an argument against allowing dogs on TOPS property due to the spread of noxious weed seed and affects on wildlife.

    Criteria 1. Will the Open Space resource values be diminished as outlined in the Open Space’s
    Master Plan, the Forest Health Management Plan / Maintenance Management Plan, or generally accepted guidance?
    • If YES then activity is not allowed
    • If NO continue to Criteria 2

  6. #6
    mtbmike
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    We've been living with this for 20 years...

    Boulder County and the City of Boulder have "passive recreation" in their open space mission statements since their inception.

    One needs to remember that recreation is but a by product in the minds of those who worked to create these programs. First and foremost, it's about limiting development and quality of life.

    We have learned over the years that the word "fun" is a suspect word in resource staff psyche. Even "sustainable" is a foreign word in their vocabulary.

    Every generation gets to define what their public lands mean to them. We in Boulder County are on the cusp of having the first generation of open space proponents fade out and the second generation takes control. I would say we are still 10 to 15 years away from making a run at rewriting mission statements.

    In the meantime, get your land management agency to hire recreation professionals. The City of Boulder has one on staff with a recreation background, the County has none. So staff meetings are loaded up with 'ologists' that don't know chit about managing humans in a wildland context. The only tools they know are restriction and regulation.

    Being good stewards of the land doesn't make for changes like these. Yep, politics is how it gets done.

    mike barrow
    BMA Advocacy Director
    Last edited by mtbmike1; 01-15-2012 at 11:49 AM. Reason: grammar
    mtbmike
    Longmont Colorado

    The world is run by those that show up....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by baker View Post
    24 hours of Ute? Please, do tell...
    I misspoke there. I've heard there will be a pro level race in Ute next year, but not the 24 Hours of COS.

    Still, same thing applies... they have to shut the park to public use for the duration of the race (from setup to clean up), so does that fly?

    I guess it comes down to how they acquired the Ute space and how it's designated.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbmike1 View Post
    Every generation gets to define what their public lands mean to them. We in Boulder County are on the cusp of having the first generation of open space proponents fade out and the second generation takes control. I would say we are still 10 to 15 years away from making a run at rewriting mission statements.

    That's right Mike. But in the case of TOPS they have taken it one step
    further by placing conservation easements on every piece of property
    almost immediately after purchase, without the opportunity for public
    comment or in the case of Manitou Section 16 before the master planning
    process had even taken place, thereby limiting the available forms of
    recreation before the public had a chance to comment.

    It's also interesting to note that the passage of this coincides with the
    early termination of the Manitou Section 16 Master Planning process in late
    October 2011, which many of us participated in but seem to have now
    been eliminated from, as Parks and friends groups retreated behind closed
    doors for "partnership building" workshops.

    For those who have questioned my outspokenness towards conservation
    easements these are the reasons why. Individuals with specific biases
    towards certain forms of recreation can subvert the process before the
    public can participate, and conservation easements are perpetual (forever).

    Our children and grandchildren will never be able to go back and change
    the restrictions that have been placed upon these properties made by a
    handful of individuals.

    We have tied their hands and prevented them from making their own
    decisions based upon their own needs and desires specific to their time.
    IMHO that's nor stewardship.

  9. #9
    mtbmike
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    UGH... I feel your pain...

    Have you contacted the IMBA office in Boulder?... Ryan@imba.com would want to know about this if he doesn't already.

    mike
    mtbmike
    Longmont Colorado

    The world is run by those that show up....

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    UT - the intent is to pick up the Red Rock Canyon/Section 16 Master Planning process where it left off, but when that occurs is still up in the air. The "partnership building" thing still hasn't started since Parks needs to hire someone to replace Sarah. They are interviewing this month, so I'll keep you posted on progress - the "partneship building" thing will not be closed to the public.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by UncleTrail View Post
    Our children and grandchildren will never be able to go back and change
    the restrictions that have been placed upon these properties made by a
    handful of individuals.

    We have tied their hands and prevented them from making their own
    decisions based upon their own needs and desires specific to their time.
    IMHO that's nor stewardship.
    I'm not convinced of this. What can be legally done, can be legally undone.

    It may cost, but it can be undone or revised.
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    The TOPS Working Committee can decide anything but the ultimate decision is always made by the Parks & Rec. Advisary Board that the TOPS Working Committee serves under. (I was on the TOPS committee for 5 years, 2 as Chair 96-2001.) I have no doubt that there is an agenda by some people involved with TOPS and TOSC (Trails & Open Space coalition) but their recommendation can be turned down by the Parks Board.

    I don't doubt some of these people would like to ban bikes from TOPS properties- but that seems unlikely with the large number of citizens who ride in them. But it is possible they will attempt to prevent events/races from taking place on TOPS purchased properties.

    Again, they can only make recommendations for use on TOPS purchases- Palmer/Ute Valley were not TOPS purchases. Red Rock Canyon, Stratton & part of Cheyenne Mtn State park were.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by teleken View Post
    The TOPS Working Committee can decide anything but the ultimate decision is always made by the Parks & Rec. Advisary Board that the TOPS Working Committee serves under. (I was on the TOPS committee for 5 years, 2 as Chair 96-2001.) I have no doubt that there is an agenda by some people involved with TOPS and TOSC (Trails & Open Space coalition) but their recommendation can be turned down by the Parks Board.

    I don't doubt some of these people would like to ban bikes from TOPS properties- but that seems unlikely with the large number of citizens who ride in them. But it is possible they will attempt to prevent events/races from taking place on TOPS purchased properties.

    Again, they can only make recommendations for use on TOPS purchases- Palmer/Ute Valley were not TOPS purchases. Red Rock Canyon, Stratton & part of Cheyenne Mtn State park were.
    Ken, the problem is that those limitations can be written into the
    conservation easements that are placed on these properties immedietly
    post-purchase, and prior to public participation, master planning or PAB
    approval.

    Remember a landowner cannot hold a conservation easement on the
    same property that they own. i.e. You can own the property, but not the
    conservation easement placed on that same property. A public land
    trust, like Palmer Land Trust, in most cases owns the conservation
    easement.

    Once TOPS places a conservation easement on a property they have
    purchased, they effectively give up any capacity as a decision maker for
    what activities can take place on that property (excluding building
    envelopes). In the case of RR/Section 16, the CE holder is Palmer Land
    Trust if I'm not mistaken. The CE was placed on the property immediately
    after purchase.

    So actually, Palmer Land Trust has the final OK on what activities can take
    place in RR/Section 16, not the public, TOPS or Park Advisory Board.

    It can be a bit deceiving.
    The perception may be that the PAB is approving uses of the property, but
    Palmer Land Trust usually has inputs prior to the master planning process
    during "stakeholder" meetings, where the limitations on uses that can be
    proposed during the master planning process are spelled out.

    I know you understand all of this, please don't be offended by my going
    into details, but I want others reading these posts to be able to follow
    along and get a grasp on how CE's work against our access to property the
    public owns.

    Placing a CE on TOPS property really ties the hands of the Parks
    Department, as it is meant to do. I disagree with this practice and
    believe it needs to come to an end.

    For publicly owned land where tax credits gained from placing conservation
    easements has no bearing, there can be no other reason to place a CE on
    that land other than to prevent uses that those placing the CE on the land
    disagree with and/or preventing it's future sale should it become valuable
    for other uses like oil/gas. It's an immediate loss of value on the property
    as an asset. IMHO there is no other reason to place a CE on publicly owned land.

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    Quote Originally Posted by manitoumtbr View Post
    UT - the intent is to pick up the Red Rock Canyon/Section 16 Master Planning process where it left off, but when that occurs is still up in the air. The "partnership building" thing still hasn't started since Parks needs to hire someone to replace Sarah. They are interviewing this month, so I'll keep you posted on progress - the "partneship building" thing will not be closed to the public.
    I realize that this is what we've been told. But my impression is that
    the Sec. 16 master plan was completed prior to the public master planning
    process we took part in.

    I predict we will see the final plan shortly. The website says today...

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    Regarding the conservation easements, I agree that there are downsides in terms of limitations for use. Regarding agendas concerning the placement of them, the only real agenda that I can see is preventing the selling of the land at some future time. The thought process there is that the land has been preserved as open space and nobody wants some future City Council to come in and say, "Hey, we need money, so we're going to sell off our open space." Those are legitimate fears in these times with the budget issues that everyone has. UT, you know how that goes, you saw that being pushed at the County a few years back.

    But I do think you have a valid point - is there another way to protect the land without placing restrictions that we might regret later. I'll bring this up at the next TOSC Advocacy meeting so it can be discussed. You're welcome to join us if you'd like.

    Regarding the passive use stuff, this isn't driven by personal agendas for or against any specific use. I've been to a few of the TOPS working committee meetings where it has been discussed and they are simply trying to get a handle on management issues, specifically with larger events. They are not anti- anything or pro- anything. And they are struggling with how to do this, so any information/advice/input would probably be welcome. Linda Hodges is on the subcommittee working on this, so you can get in touch with her with any questions/comments and I'm sure she'd discuss it with you to fill you in on what they are trying to do. I know I had some of those same concerns when I first heard them talking about this, but I came away convinced that they were trying to do the right thing and that they weren't anti-anything amongst the accepted uses. Even in dealing with other issues, I've never seen the current committee show any anti-bike tendencies.

    From a TOSC perspective (as a current board member), the board/staff is as pro-bike as it ever has been. We wouldn't stand for bikes being banned from TOPS property and there aren't any anti-bike agendas floating around in the organization either.

    UT, I know you don't always see eye-to-eye with either TOPS or TOSC, but I don't think either are unwilling to sit down and discuss new ideas. I do think there is a tendency to cling to the way things have been done and to be wary of change due to unforseen side effects that may negatively affect open space and trail acquisition/preservation, but there are planety of intelligent people involved in these groups that are willing to consider any good ideas and see how they might be useful in the big picture. I know I'd like to hear what ideas you may have and how you see them working

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by manitoumtbr View Post
    UT, I know you don't always see eye-to-eye with either TOPS or TOSC,
    MMTBR Remember, I brought this topic up 6 months ago.
    Call to Action: Active vs. Passive use in TOPS parks redefined (again)

    Here's the difference between what I would like to see and what TOPS/TOSC is currently doing.

    I would like to see effort put into changing the TOPS tax codes to
    remove any language which limits the uses of open space parks
    to select user groups or defines certain forms of recreation as "passive" or
    active". That would eliminate these endless discussions to develop
    "procedures" and "policy" and force board members and park staff to really
    focus on the activity itself and the impacts of those activities on a
    case-by-case basis, on a park-by-park basis.

    TOPS/TOSC wants to work to define the uses further based on current
    language in TOPS tax codes and basically discriminate against user groups
    entirely based on policy without public discussion.

    TOPS/TOSC wants more policy and procedures. I want less. That's it.

    Just because TOPS/TOSC doesn't like OHV parks or shooting ranges,
    doesn't mean there isn't a need that open space departments shouldn't
    be fulfilling. IMHO it's BS to say "that's active use and we don't do that".

    My own observations are telling me that activities such as hiking are not as
    passive as we have been led to believe, and in many cases the impacts to
    open space areas are larger than the activities we exclude.

    So why are we still calling hiking passive, when 80% of the hikers out there
    are walking dogs off leash? And please don't criticize me as being anti-dog
    b/c I'm not. I'm looking at a pup right now. I just want more recreation
    opportunities for everyone and hiking keeps being held up as this holy grail
    of a non-impact, "passive" activities, which it is not.

    We have become so focused on trivial things like dirt being pushed up
    around the edges of a corner to form a berm, a trail tread being machine
    built, hoof prints holding water, liter on a trail after an event, and all the
    little insignificant details that go into trails, that we have lost sight of the
    big picture, which is providing outdoor recreation to people in our
    communities. That's just my opinion. Everyone has one.

    And if I had the time to come to meetings I would. Taking a day off work
    to show up at 9:00 am for a park board meeting just isn't going to happen.

    By posting here I'm getting my message out to those who I believe can
    make the changes that need to be made, and helping to educate them
    on some of the myths and misconceptions that exist about open space.
    Change won't happen by me alone, it's going to take all of us.

    Anyway. Thanks for sticking up for us at TOSC Jim. I really do appreciate
    your work although we disagree philosophically on some key issues.

    Thursday is my Friday. Have a nice weekend and safe riding to all.

    Last edited by UncleTrail; 01-19-2012 at 04:01 PM.

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