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Since 1999 the City of Boulder Department of Open Space and Mountain Parks has been working on developing a Visitor Plan. We've been following the process and participating whenever possible. Open Space and Mountain Parks formed two consecutive committees to provide input to the process.
During late 1999 and the spring of 2000, the first Visitor Plan Advisory Committee developed a report which was published in March of 2000. Information on the first Visitor Plan Advisory Committee process and BATCO's comments is available at Visitor Plan Advisory Committee One.
A second Visitor Plan Advisory Committee was created in January of 2003 to continue the process and published a second report in June of 2003. Information on the second Visitor Plan Advisory Committee process with BATCO's comments and formally submitted materials is available at Visitor Plan Advisory Committee Two.
With the completion of the second Visitor Plan Advisory Committee report the OSMP staff used the reports of the two Visitor Plan Advisory Committees (and various other inputs) to create a draft Visitor Master Plan which was published in April of 2004. During May and June of 2004 the OSMP staff hosted a series of community group meetings to discuss and attempt to resolve various issues and concerns raised by the draft plan. After more than 25 hours of meetings the group reached consensus on a number of recommended modifications to the draft Visitor Plan. BATCO was pleased to participate in the group meetings. We support the process and its results.
Unfortunately, the staff and Board of Trustees of the Open Space and Mountain Parks Department elected to reject the most important of the Community Group Forum recommendations. BATCO, along with other forum participants, stakeholder organization representatives, and community members, was distressed with the department's position. The issue was appealed to the City Council. The text of BATCO's letter to the City Council summarizing the issues and expressing our concern is available at BATCO City Council Letter. Additional information on the Committee Group Forum process and its recommendations is available at Visitor Plan Community Group Forum.
The Open Space and Mountain Parks Department released the final draft of the proposed Visitor Master Plan early in February of 2005. We were pleased with much of the new draft. Although the process has been long and complex, the plan has grown better with each iteration. The overall tone of the latest VMP draft is a significant improvement over previous versions. The draft is a warmer, more welcoming, and acknowledges the value in providing opportunities for people to interact with the environment.
BATCO supported the majority of the draft. We felt that visitor access in Habitat Conservation Areas (HCAs) required more flexibility in management strategies and implementation scheduling. We provided detail recommendations for appropriate modifications at BATCO Final Draft VMP Response.
The Boulder City Council approved an amended version of the proposed Visitor Master Plan on April 12, 2005. The Council's amendments improved the overall plan and incorporated many of BATCO's recommended changes. Perhaps most significantly, the Council rejected recommendations from the Open Space and Mountain Parks Board of Trustees to reimpose visitor restrictions that the staff had removed from the draft plan and ignored an inappropriate recommendation from the Planning Board to reject the results of the entire last year of public process. The Council is to be commended for listening to more than one set of voices and for striving for a balanced plan. The details of the City Council's amendments and the final Visitor Master Plan are available at City Council VMP Approval.