Walker Ranch Management Proposals Meeting

Do you want to see a plains to Walker connection for mountain bikes?

How about Ned to Boulder?

THINK BIG!

Here's the next step.

On November 13, Boulder County Parks and Open Space will host a presentation of management proposals for Walker Ranch.  "Management proposal" = how to care for the land, where trails go, as well as who gets to use what trails. This meeting is an important public input step which informs a complete update that can be presented to the Parks and Open Space Advisory Board and the County Commissioners.

In the words of the Jesse Rounds, a Resource Planner at BCPOS:

Our staff has worked together with the ideas you (the stakeholders) gave us back at the Public Open House to develop a management direction and a series of management proposals. I'll present those proposals at this meeting and take your comments and questions. This will not be the last time we come to you for comments, but will allow us to present what we see as a vision for Walker Ranch. With your comments and questions in hand we'll develop a final proposal that we'll bring back to you before going to POSAC and the Commissioners.

Ready to weigh in?

Walker Ranch Management Direction Public Meeting
Tuesday November 13, 2012
Transportation Dept
2525 13th Street, Boulder
2nd Floor conference Room
6 - 8pm

Background

Think back twenty years ago... No Hall Ranch, no Heil Valley Ranch.  The premier ride in Boulder County was Walker Ranch.  Why? Because the County Open Space program was just ramping up and the City of Boulder had ranch roads available for cycling.  Hey, it was a loop trail!  Much has happened since that time.

Boulder County Parks and Open Space have been good to us.  Picture Rock, Wild Turkey, the Benjamin Loop stand in testament to our relentless efforts to get staff to understand what a sustainable and fun trail experience is all about.  It's time to take those lessons learned and apply them to Walker Ranch.

The first meeting held to take public input on this management plan rewrite was in June 2011.  BCPOS staff disappeared for over a year...

Why did it take so long?  Several factors contributed to this tetonic pace; personnel changes, priorities changed on the fly for the planning staff (not their fault), and the our most important reason... we wanted this management plan to look beyond their fencelines, do the research and investigate how Walker could link the plains with the continental divide.

That's a tall order... Here is the input BMA gave to BCPOS on behalf of the mountian bikers of Boulder County:

 

To: Jesse Rounds

Planner, BCPOS

From: Boulder Mountainbike Alliance

Subject: Walker Ranch Management Plan Input

First and foremost, BMA thanks BCPOS staff for the continued positive developments occurring on trails throughout Boulder County.  Staff, through their actions, have demonstrated that sustainable trails can be fun and manage significant user pressure.  We see this success being an overall positive result for the resource, as trails that hold up don't become a negative contributor to the recreational and natural resources on a given property.

We are excited to participate in the revisit of the Walker Ranch Management Plan.  BMA (actually BOA) has spent literally thousands of volunteer hours working on the trails at Walker through the 1990s when this park was the premier cycling destination in Boulder County.  It's now time to take a fresh look at Walker Ranch and ask ourselves how this trails system works with the rest of the County.

The high points:

  • Walker Ranch's greatest potential lies in it's proximity to other public lands and the opportunities it presents for trail corridors both east and west of the property.
  • It's time to get off the roads.  Too much of Walker Ranch utilizes old road beds that were not created for recreational use.  BCPOS trail crews have the capacity to do so much better.
  • It's time to bring the entire trial system up to current standards.

To date, land agencies in Boulder County have done very little to look beyond their own fence lines to look at the big picture of a county wide recreational trail system west of the foothills.  NOW is the time to have that 'macro' conversation with all the other agencies in Boulder County to leverage each other's assets to create trail corridors that interconnect city, county, state and federal lands.

In twenty years, the pressure on our open spaces from communities outside the Boulder County region is projected to skyrocket.  We acknowledge that no one agency can build their way out of this problem.  We also acknowledge that there will be very few, if any, Walker or Hall Ranches coming online in the future.  Boulder County is already two thirds in public ownership.  We need to create recreational opportunities that disperse use while minimizing travel by car.  By working together, we can create a regional trail system that moves people and minimizes impacts to any one parcel.

Walker Ranch can be the first step in that direction, a direction we feel must happen if we are to be responsible stewards of these public lands.  As you are well aware, Boulder's OSMP has already acknowledged the desirability of an "Eldo to Walker" connection, and they are actively pursuing that outcome with the State Park.  BMA does not endorse any specific corridor to accomplish that goal.  Issues of topography, private property, and untrammeled wild places are the variables that must be considered in this effort, and we would be presumptuous to favor one corridor or another.

We do know that we, as a community, can create sustainable, interesting, fun trails and still protect the sensitive natural resources on the property.  We've already done it at Betasso Preserve and Heil Valley Ranch.  We just need to have the will to do it.

We also strongly favor a trail corridor west toward Nederland. The US Forest Service, through our communications with the Boulder Ranger District, is amenable to the concept of a trail corridor west.  There are several options that could be pursued, the Denver Water project at Gross Reservoir could yield a corridor through Winegar Ridge, or the time may be right to open the possibility of using the aquaduct from Barker Reservoir to Kossler Lake.  Again, we do not know which corridor is best, but we want BCPOS to have the will to pursue this goal and work with the USFS to make it a reality.

We also want BCPOS to look at the impending development of Chapman Drive up from Boulder Creek to Flagstaff Road and ask how this piece can fit into a larger trail system.  The old access road that leads into Meyers Homestead may be a good fit that brings these trails together and creates a better system.

You've heard it for years..... ROADS ARE NOT TRAILS.  The pipeline trail on the east side of the Walker Ranch Loop is nothing but a grunt of a climb on a road; a negative recreational value.  BCPOS trail crews have already studied come of the options getting off the road and on to singletrack in the same drainage as this road.  It's time to get that research and apply the matured trail building practices of Boulder County's trail crew and make that happen.

The South Boulder Creek trail, while not exactly a road, is too steep for multiple use, and user conflict and unsustainable conditions are a natural result of taking a fisherman access and making it a multiple use trail.  Let's take a fresh look at designing a building something that will manage speeds and make it fun for all.

Lastly, we want to see the Columbine Gulch Trail and Meyers Homestead Trail brought up to current standards.  Every trail needs to be managed and maintained like it's supposed to have a 100 year service life.

BMA appreciates this opportunity to provide input during this revisit of the management plan.  But we also stand ready to help make good decisions a reality.  You can expect BMA to be an active partner in the creation and ongoing maintenance of these assets.  That's why we are here.

Boulder Mountainbike Alliance

July 6, 2011

Walker Ranch is a critical link in the effort to get regional trail connectivity moving forward in Boulder County.  We need to fill the room and speak with an encouraging, positive, unified voice.  If you have input BMA needs to consider integrating into our offical comments, we encourage you to do so by clicking here and telling us all about it!

See you at the meeting!

Date: 
2012/11/13 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Groups:

Comments

Maintain Walker Ranch's Rugged Terrain

 
Well, I couldn't make the meeting due to work, but...
I enjoy Walker Ranch because of its steep and rugged terrain. I believe our number one goal with the upcoming area plan should be to preserve the current trails. The system has supported thousands of users for many years, and shows only minor erosion in a couple of places. The current layout is the very definition of "sustainable". The top of the South bound climb out of the Boulder Creek trail is getting bad, but it could be easily fixed by adding some water bars or other erosion control devices.
If the current grades are too steep for a multi-user trail, we should fight tooth and nail to come up with solutions besides regrading. How about separate trails for mtbs and other users? How about alternate day access like Betasso and Apex? How about adding difficult obstacles that slow riders down? Whatever it takes to avoid a regrading. By the way, my gps gives me a faster top speed at Marshall Mesa, and an average speed almost double Walker Ranch, so grade is clearly not the only factor when it comes to speed.

 

Don't Touch Walker Ranch!

 
Walker Ranch is the only real 'good mountain bike trail' BOSMP has. The reason it is good is because the old roads on the west side of the loop (South Boulder Creek Trail) are fast. The steeper pitch, straighter line, wider trail and open sight lines allows riders to ride at fun speeds. If BMA ask BOSMP to approve single track they are going to mandate that the trail look like the security line at DIA with more switchbacks then anyone will be able to count. We already have plenty of single track, withoff camber fun for hardtailed single speeds and CX bikes, don’t let Walker Ranch become the next victim of trail speed control.
 

No more groomed bunny trails please

I completely agree with rhamilton.  Whatever guidelines are being used to restrict the flexibility of trail building need to be completely changed before any future trailwork is done.  New trails constructed in the last 15 years all have the same feel and are very easy to become bored with.  They cater to beginners and/or the least common denimator.  It's like a ski resort that only builds flat green bunny trails all over the entire mountain.  Unless you plan to fundamentally change how trails are designed and built, please DO NOT touch Walker Ranch.  We do not need more lame trails.

While it would be nice to

While it would be nice to have a connector trail to the plains, or a diagonal trail across the middle, i'd be more than willing to settle for a simple "no sanitizing" rule. the trail is generally in good shape, and doesn't need to be imbafied to death like that god awful new trail at the top of Bitterbrush. I am hoping to make it to the meeting.