Saturday, March 31, 2007

Meditating? Don't forget the permit!


Boulder Daily Camera -- 3/27/07

Meditating? Don't forget the permit!

The open space policy requiring visitors to get permits to set foot off trail is badly designed, with more burdens for the public than benefits for the land. Now we will have to decide in advance if we intend to leave the trail, remember which areas require permits, get a permit for every hike, and bring it along with us. Forget "spur of the moment" outings. This process is going to radically change our experience of open space. And what of the people who don't have Internet connections and a printer? They'll just have to make the trip to the open space office during office hours.

What is easy for some is harder for those less well off. Unless you get your permit, you can kiss solitude good-bye. You wanted to go sit under a tree to meditate, or go sit on a rock to read for a while and enjoy the peace and quiet? Not without your permit, you don't!

And you can forget about spontaneously enjoying the land. Find an interesting ridge you'd like to explore? See a beautiful sunset that would be a great picture from over there? Tough luck, buddy!

The open space department should not be able to simply restrict areas by fiat, with no word about when they might be re-opened and no restrictions on whether new areas are added. This is a policy with frightening growth potential. Charges for permits are surely coming.

Open space must justify restricting a parcel and should then prohibit off-trail travel to everyone, without any permitting nonsense. And after two years or so, they should have to do another study to assess whether the parcel has recovered enough to allow visitors.

If this policy is intended as such a study, it could be done better by using volunteers to conduct trailhead surveys and actual counts on the parcels in question. This would protect the land without leading us down the open space trails toward a bureaucratic police state.



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