January 30, 2014:
Nine months ago, no one realized that completion of an updated Master Plan would require eight months of effort. The principal reason is that the Master Plan that will be presented to the County Commissioners in February is very different from earlier updates.
Staff started with the idea that the master plan should include the other three divisions in the Parks Department (Fairgrounds, CSU Extension, and Boettcher Mansion) and address some of the social needs that Open Space could fulfill. A series of presentations were made in May, comments were received, and a first draft was prepared.
Many of the comments after these presentations pointed out that including the other divisions with Open Space was akin to mixing apples with oranges. Staff agreed and the first draft made available did not include the other divisions. However the PLAN Jeffco board and others commented that there was too much emphasis on the social needs and not enough on acquisitions and park management. A second draft was completed in early August and another series of presentations were made in late August. Again comments were received, PLAN Jeffco and others were concerned that there still was not enough emphasis on acquisitions. A new draft was prepared and presented to the Advisory Committee in September. The consensus of the Committee was the plan still did not address acquisitions and park management adequately.
A sub-committee was formed to proceed on revising the draft. The sub-committee included Jan Wilkins, Mike Dungan, and John Litz from OSAC and Amy Ito, Tom Hoby, and Thea Rock from Open Space. The sub-committee held a number of meetings in October and November, revising the draft and obtaining input from PLAN Jeffco. A revised draft was put out for public comment on November 20. A number of comments were received see link below.
The comments were reviewed by the subcommittee and, where appropriate, changes were made. Most of the comments by PLAN Jeffco were included in the final draft. The final draft was presented to OSAC at their January 9th meeting. PLAN Jeffco is quite pleased with the final draft and feel that it is a very strong document. The draft was approved and is posted online - see link below.
Highlights of the Plan include the Vision for Open Space and a Mission statement on how to achieve that vision.
Vision—Enriching life throughout Jefferson County with an abundance of open space, parks, trails and nature-based outdoor experiences.
Mission—To acquire property rights for the preservation of open space and parklands, protect
natural and park resources, and provide for healthy nature-based experiences.
The main focus of the Plan is a series of eight goals for the next five years and strategies to achieve those goals:
1. Land Preservation: Increase land preserved by at least 1,700 acres from 52,817 acres to a minimum of 54,517 by 2019.
2. Land Stewardship: Refine stewardship standards and systems and implement for all Jeffco Open Space lands by 2019.
3. Trails: Expand the Jeffco Open Space trail system by 25 miles from 227 miles to 252 miles by 2019.
4. Communications and Community Involvement: Develop and employ a Communications and Community Involvement Plan.
5. Nature and Park-Related History Education: Increase current program participation by 27,000 from 75,000 people per year to 102,000 people by 2019.
6. Volunteerism: Increase volunteer support by 16,850 from 22,500 hours per year to 39,350 hours by 2019.
7. Visitor Stewardship: Create “Share and Care” program to promote individual and group stewardship of public lands and increase educational contacts by 12,000 from 11,000 to 23,000 by 2019.
8. The Nature - Health Connection: Create five additional, regional Jeffco Outdoors maps in collaboration with the Jeffco Outdoors Foundation and private partners by 2019.
The strategies to attain the five-year goals include (see the online plan for additional strategies):
1. Land Preservation Strategies:
(a) Prioritize preserving property in the 2010-2011 Colorado Natural Heritage Program areas as well as the Conservation Study Areas.
(b) Build and strengthen relationships with private landowners, land trusts, federal and state entities to preserve lands that meet Jeffco Open Space Acquisition Criteria.
(c) Actively use all acquisition approaches and tools including donations, right of first refusal, option agreement, partnerships, conservation easements and development requirements.
2. Land Stewardship Strategies:
(a) Develop and implement standards to define the appropriate balance between protecting natural and park resources and providing outdoor recreation opportunities.
(b) Conduct inventory baselines of all new properties and update all existing inventories of Jeffco Open Space properties, and prepare Open Space Regional Management Plans, which identify and implement appropriate actions.
3. Trails Strategies:
(a) Complete White Ranch Park to Golden Gate Canyon State Park – 8 miles.
4. Communications and Community Involvement Strategies:
(a) Collaborate, develop and implement guidelines for regular communication with the public, other agencies and internally.
(b) Develop and implement community involvement processes for regular community involvement to address varying needs and desires for use of Open Space lands.
5. Nature and Park-Related History Education Strategies:
(a) Promote programs with Get Outdoors
Colorado.org and Jeffco Open Space websites.
(b) Utilize existing Jeffco Open Space staff, volunteers and partner to offer more nature and history education programs at Jeffco Open Space and local parks.
6. Volunteerism Strategies:
(a) Recruit and partner with advocacy and naturebased outdoor groups to host more volunteer events.
(b) Recruit volunteers from multiple age groups and cultural backgrounds.
7. Visitor Stewardship Strategies:
(a) Create a comprehensive “Share and Care”
individual stewardship program.
(b) Provide friendly and easy to understand information about how individual visitors can protect and share park and natural resources.
8. The Nature-Health Connection Strategies:
(a) Partner with the Jeffco Outdoors Foundation to produce 5 new regional Jeffco Outdoors Maps of all public outdoor recreation opportunities for the public available in a region.
(b) Pursue healthcare provider partnerships for new activities that could strengthen conservation, stewardship and healthy lifestyles.
Read the final approved 2014 Jeffco Open Space Master Plan online:
Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan
Jeffco Open Space Master Plan Listening Log (Jan. 2, 2014)