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2014 Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan - Released in April!

Date: August 2013

Updated: April 2014

Click to read the Jefferson County 2014 Open Space Master Plan

2014 Open Space Master Plan

Executive Summary:

"Jefferson County Open Space is the nation’s first sales tax-funded County open space program. It has grassroots beginnings dating back to 1972 with two pivotal organizations: PLAN Jeffco and The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County. These organizations proposed a unique concept to the Board of County Commissioners to preserve the scenic vistas and open lands within the County using the collection of one half of one percent tax on sales in Jefferson County to fund the program. The voters agreed, thereby ensuring perpetual land conservation, stewardship of open space and parklands, and access for public enjoyment.

Since 1972, Jeffco Open Space has acquired over 52,817 acres of land with approximately one-fifth dedicated to cities or districts that provide park and recreation services and open space purposes. Throughout the unincorporated county, 28 Open Space Parks provide trail-based outdoor recreation, nature and history education hubs, and conservation of scenic landscapes, natural resources, historic sites and wildlife habitat." ... read the executive summary »

The Open Space Master Plan is “an overarching strategic plan” which “reflects the mission and goals of Jefferson County Open Space," while respecting the original Open Space Resolution of 1972 and the Ad Hoc Committee Recommendations of 1987.

The Open Space Master Plan is revised every five years, with the purpose and intent of setting goals and objectives for the Open Space Program. The citizens of Jefferson County should be able to understand how Open Space works by reading through this Master Plan. The Board of County Commissioners, the Open Space Advisory Committee, and Open Space Staff are guided in direction and operation by the contents of the Open Space Master Plan.

This year, 2014, the Open Space Master Plan is being updated with the following purpose: "to set our compass by establishing standards and best practices for services, management and programs; and to lead, share and create opportunities to provide life-enriching experiences."


  • April 22, 2014:   The Jefferson County 2014 Open Space Master Plan was approved on January 9, 2014 and was adopted by the Jeffco Board of County Commissioners on March 18, 2014. After an 18 month process, the 2014 Master Plan was released on the Jefferson County website on April 18th. PLAN Jeffco is quite pleased with the final draft and feels that it is a very strong document: 2014 Open Space Master Plan

  • April 8, 2014:   Five weeks after the Advisory Committee had recommended the Master Plan on January 9, a group from the "development community" expressed concerns to the Commissioners and testified at the February 11 Commissioner meeting where approval of the Master Plan was scheduled. The expressed concern was that they had not had time to review the maps. The Commissioners then delayed approval until they could convey specific concerns to Open Space. They were then invited by Tom Hoby to meet personally and that was declined. Tom then requested that they have comments to Open Space by February 24, prior to the March 6, OSAC meeting. The comments were received February 27.

    One of the concerns was that some of the balloons surrounding areas containing rare plants and wildlife could be interpreted that all of the land within the balloon was potential for acquisition by Open Space. As such could impact property values and would be considered during rezoning. In actuality, the balloons were from the biodiversity study done by Natural Heritage Program at CSU and are used so that the exact location of the rare plant or wildlife is not shown. Also the Open Space Master Plan is never considered during a rezoning application.

    A second concern was the ability of a land owner who did not want Open Space to consider their property, to have the Master Plan maps show exclusions. Open Space has had a policy since the 2008 Master Plan than any landowner could request that their property not be considered. Until this February, no land owner had requested exclusion. A statement to this effect is included in the 2014 Master Plan text. Since the maps are conceptual, staff and OSAC felt that showing these exclusions on a map would serve no purpose.

    At the March 6, OSAC meeting language was added to the Master Plan explaining that the maps contained information relative to all of Jefferson County and that the Open Space Acquisition Criteria focus on land that usually is different than lands suitable for commercial and residential development.

    At the Board of County Commissioners on March 18, one of the developers testified that there should be no policy of exclusion, and thanked Open Space for the language that they developed to meet his concerns. The person who asked to have his lands excluded thanked Open Space for agreeing to exclude his lands and to show this on the maps when they are finalized. The Commissioners then approved the Master Plan as presented by Open Space.

  • 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)

  • January 5, 2014:   The currently published draft (dated November 2013) was reviewed and suggestions were made for modifications on December 30, 2013. On January 4th, the RECOMMENDED 2014 Jeffco Open Space Master Plan was posted to the Jeffco Open Space web page. This document was made public prior to the January 9, 2014 Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) meeting where the Committee has the opportunity to give their support to staff’s recommended plan. A recent listening log of comments dated Jan. 2, 2014 is also available for review - click to read:

    Jeffco Open Space Master Plan Listening Log (Jan. 2, 2014)

  • November 19, 2013:   A Draft 2013 Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan is available for public review. Comments accepted through Friday, December 20, 2013.

  • October 2013:   The Master Plan is being rewritten. A Master Plan Sub-Committee has been convened, comprised of individuals from OSAC (Open Space Advisory Committee) and Open Space Staff. Together they are working to rewrite the Master Plan, incorporating input from PLAN Jeffco and other public organizations and individuals.

    The next meeting of the Master Plan sub-committee is scheduled for Monday, October 14th, 2-4 pm, at the Open Space Offices, 700 Jefferson County Parkway, Suite 100, Golden CO 80401. The public is encouraged to attend.

  • September 30, 2013:   At the September 19th OSAC meeting, Open Space staff presented a modified draft of the Master Plan. The modifications attempted to accommodate many of the comments received relating to the August 8th draft. The consensus of OSAC was that the draft still did not convey much of the information that OSAC felt was necessary to include.

    A committee of three OSAC members and five staff met September 30th to consider rewriting the draft. The committee’s consensus was to follow a new outline and items to be included within each section of the outline were discussed. Staff is now working on the revision.

    Read the PLAN Jeffco & LWV letters of concern:

    PLAN Jeffco Letter of Concern and Comments regarding the August 2013 Draft Open Space Master Plan (September 3, 2013 )

    League of Women Voters of Jefferson County Letter of Concern and Comments regarding the August 2013 Draft Open Space Master Plan (September 4, 2013)

  • September 1, 2013:   Jefferson County Open Space updates their Master Plan every five years. The last Master Plan was adopted in 2008.

    The process for the 2013 update started with a series of public meetings in May at which time comments from the public were solicited. June 6, at the OSAC retreat, staff presented philosophy that was being used to develop the master plan. This philosophy was for the plan to be brief and it would cover all four divisions (Fairgrounds, Boettcher Mansion, CSU Extension, and Open Space) within the Parks Department. A number of OSAC members expressed concern that the missions of the four divisions were different enough that it would be difficult to write a statement that was meaningful. Good points were that metrics were included for Open Space objectives in the next five years.

    Between June 6 and the August 1 OSAC meeting, staff decided to develop a separate master plan for Open Space. A brief outline of a Master Plan was presented at the OSAC meeting. Again a number of the OSAC members expressed concern that the outlined plan did not focus on the main roles of open space, but on social issues.

    An expanded draft Master Plan was made available on the web August 8. Public meetings were held during the weeks of August 19 and 26. Comments on the plan were being received by Open Space through September 6. PLAN Jeffco submitted a long series of comments, feeling that the draft plan did not include many items that should be in a comprehensive master plan includes information that was not shown to be relevant to the plan. It is expected that additional information will be provided to OSAC prior to their September 19 meeting. If available, we will post this information on planjeffco.org under “Open Space Involvement.” This will be the regular September meeting. If there is another draft that will be open for public comment after September 19, we will post notice here.

  • August 2013:   A draft (dated August 8, 2013) of the proposed 2013 Jeffco Open Space Master Plan was available for public review and comment through August and early September. Fifteen public meetings were held to gather public input.

Open Space Master Plan Contact:

Thea Rock
Communications Manager, Jefferson County Open Space
telephone: 303.271.5902
email: trock@jeffco.us

More Information:

PLAN Jeffco Newsletters (September 2013, January 2014, & April 2014)

1972 PLAN Jeffco Open Space Resolution

1980 PLAN Jeffco Open Space Resolution Amendment

1987 Jefferson County Open Space Ad Hoc Committee Report

2013 Jeffco DRAFT Open Space Master Plans

Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan (jeffco.us)

See also:

Current Initiatives & Action Items