John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club and the father of our National Parks system, was fond of saying, “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” I am a near-daily user of our Open Spaces, and I hike, trail run, and mountain bike. I do not support any caps or restrictions on the number of people, although I believe we have an obligation to have open conversations about usage levels and appropriate levels of maintenance. One of the greatest threats to our Open Space is the failure to provide sufficient maintenance resources.  To the extent that we fail to maintain trails and proper access facilities, we risk increased damage to our lands as people and animals move off-trail.

As I have learned through my own experiences with Open Space, I believe that facilitating responsible usage encourages greater preservation, and that we have an obligation as a community to discuss usage levels and appropriate levels of maintenance. As pressures from outside visitors grow, I believe we must take into account mass transportation and parking policies that support our goals for Open Space, as we did for Chautauqua and the pilot program to provide free busing. We might also consider additional parking charges for visitors from outside of Boulder County.