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Celebrating over 40 years of PLAN Jeffco and the Jefferson County Open Space Program

Preservation versus Conservation

Quotation Pinchot, who was the first head of the US Forest Service, saw conservation as a means of managing the nation's natural resources for long-term sustainable commercial use. As a professional forester, his view was that 'forestry is tree farming,' without destroying the long-term viability of the forests. Muir, who was the founder of the Sierra Club, valued nature for its spiritual and transcendental qualities. In one essay about the National Parks, he referred to them as 'places for rest, inspiration, and prayers.' He often encouraged city dwellers to experience nature for its spiritual nourishment. Both men opposed reckless exploitation of natural resources, including clear-cutting of forests. Even Muir acknowledged the need for timber and the forests to provide it, but Pinchot's view of wilderness management was more utilitarian." (

Preservation is maintaining something as you found it, or - as in the case of the Boettcher Mansion or the Baehrden Lodge, returning it to what it looked like at a previous time, when it was at its zenith, and keeping it that way. Open Space has two primitive areas, Ralston Buttes and the Hildebrand Primitive Area. These are preserved areas. You don't go into these areas without a naturalist guide, and there's a reason for this level of protection. These areas are so special that they need to be protected from human encroachment.

Conservation is a different concept: conserving resources is at the core of a conservation area, and most of the Open Space parks are conserved areas. That means that, within these parks, Jeffco Open Space will build trails and trailheads, access roads and parking areas. Every trailhead will have latrines, and some even have a source of drinkable water. Informational kiosks will inform people about the specific park environment. Some areas within the parks will be mitigated for wildfire. Jeffco Open Space intentionally creates trail connection corridors wherever possible, which connect trails from one Open Space park to another. People from all over the Front Range are encouraged to hike and cycle and ride (horses) and run the trails in these conserved park areas. We even have a couple of dog-off-leash parks within the Jeffco Open Space Parks system.

Most of the land within Open Space Parks will not be preserved, they will be conserved.

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