Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks

The year 2009 was the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of PLAN-Boulder County. It was established to “combat urban sprawl by keeping attractive green areas open within the city as well as the surrounding countryside.” (I’m quoting the December 2009 Coloradan here, which is quoting the first edition of the group’s newsletter. The Coloradan is the University of Colorado’s alumni magazine.)

Fifty years later, Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks oversees 45,000 acres of open space. That’s a lot of land on which restoration, active or passive, can occur. That’s a lot of greenbelt separating one city from another, and it’s especially valuable now, as the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains is perilously close to becoming 1 long swath of development from Colorado Springs north to Fort Collins and beyond.

In 1962, the first piece of open space was purchased: Enchanted Mesa. In 1967, Boulder (city) voters became the first voters in the nation to approve a tax to pay to acquire open space.

Those 45,000 acres also host 5.3 million visitors per year.


The category here is “What Does Restoration Require?” I posted this as one example of how to get to the point at which you can restore land. The most secure restoration takes place on land that is owned by the group restoring it.

Obviously, not everyone can afford to buy land just to restore it, and not every community has enough room to set aside land for open space. We are fortunate in the United States to have a relatively low population in one of the largest countries in the world. In more populous countries, especially where the local population lives off the land, “setting aside” land often means displacing people. (It meant that in the United States as well.) I am not in favor of that at all; I want people to remain on their land and restore it around themselves and their activities.

So if you want to restore something and you can’t see your way to owning it, perhaps you can find another way, even if that includes a little guerrilla restoration.