Sunday, October 02, 2005

BATCO Marshall Mesa-Southern Grasslands Trail Alternatives

September 12, 2005

To: Jim Reeder, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department

Subject: Marshall Mesa-Southern Grasslands Trail Alternatives

Note: This post was written prior to the creation of this blog and as part of an earlier stage in the ongoing public debate over Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks policies. While somewhat dated, the post still raises important issues which are still relevant.

Marshall Mesa and the Southern Grasslands offer exceptional opportunities for both recreation and nature study. These properties include unimplemented regional trail alignments, important riparian habitat, and several significant safety issues. Given the tight time schedule, the Marshall Mesa-Southern Grasslands Trail Alternatives developed by the OSMP staff identify many of the opportunities and, for the most part, accurately characterize them.

We support the implementation of the majority of the alternatives considered. We believe it is important to identify the most important. Trail emphasis in the TSA should include: completing the missing trail connections, especially the external connections to regional trail systems; providing limited, but significant, opportunities for public appreciation of the Coal Creek corridor; and, correcting the trailhead and highway crossing safety exposures.

Of the forty alternatives identified, there are several that are essential to the success of the Trail Study Area (TSA) project and to the future of OSMP management of the properties:

The Marshall Mesa to Superior Trail (Alternatives 10 and 13) and the Greenbelt Plateau Trailhead to Coalton Trail (Alternative 33) are previously approved, comprehensive plan trails. They are vital regional connections and must be included in the final trail plan.

In addition, at least one of the major visitor proposed "white dot" trails in the Southern Grasslands HCA must be approved. This is essential both to provide the general public an appreciation of the area and to demonstrate that the hours of public participation and the strong public interest exhibited for some access to the area has not been discounted by the OSMP department.

The final trail plan must also address the safety issues associated with the Marshall Mesa trailhead and with Highway 93 crossings. We believe the proposed City Limits Trailhead (Alternative 2), the Community Ditch Trail Crossing (Alternative 3), and equestrian access to the Matterhorn cattle underpass (Alternative 25) appropriately address these concerns.

We have attached our detail analysis and recommendations for these essential trails and our recommendations and comments on all the Trail Alternatives. We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Trail Alternatives and have high hopes for the success of the TSA process

Boulder Area Trails Coalition Board of Directors

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