Capital Improvement Program

2024-29 Open Space & Mountain Parks Department Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Summary

Spending on Projects within Open Space & Mountain Parks

Overview of Open Space & Mountain Parks Projects

The 2024 Open Space & Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department capital budget includes projects that are a part of the department’s core mission, including capital maintenance of trailheads and trails; agricultural lands management; capital ecosystem maintenance and restoration; and strategic and resource planning. The department’s 2024 capital budget fully incorporates guidance from the OSMP Master Plan for the fourth year. Projects will align with the Master Plan focus areas, which serve as departmental work program priorities for 2024:

Agriculture Today and Tomorrow

Agriculture and water projects aim to improve soil health, integrate sustainable agricultural practices and resource protection, take care of existing infrastructure, and support the next generation of ranchers and farmers.

Community Connections, Education, and Inclusion

Interpretive and integrated planning projects support enhanced communications across the system, foster connection with nature, and engage youth corps to encourage stewardship as a career and responsible lifestyle.

Ecosystem Health and Resilience

Ecological and restoration projects safeguard large habitat blocks and corridors, reduce undesignated trails, maintain and restore grasslands, forests, wetlands and riparian areas, control invasive species, and promote biodiversity of plants and animals.

Responsible Recreation, Stewardship, and Enjoyment

These projects maintain and improve trails and visitor infrastructure, support enjoyable passive recreation opportunities on OSMP lands, protect scenic resources, and address visitation levels and growth where appropriate.

Financial Sustainability

Capital projects across OSMP support department efforts to take care of what we have and understand total cost of system management. In 2024, OSMP will continue to invest in asset management and other systems in support of Master Plan objectives.

Climate Strategies and Solutions Implementation

This project provides funding for a suite of climate strategy projects to incorporate opportunities or improvements that increase OSMP’s climate resiliency and preparedness, manage its carbon footprint, and increase communications to the public to bolster climate action. Funding will pay for consulting to perform an inventory of OSMP’s emissions with the aim of identifying emissions reduction strategies and a study to create a prioritized list of natural climate solutions for further research and implementation.

2024-29 Planned Spending: $1,650,000

2024 Budget: $150,000

Fort Chambers/Poor Farm Site Management Plan: Site Evaluation

This site management plan will determine short- and long-term management goals and actions for the management of the Fort Chambers/Poor Farm property, including the Queen Anne house, associated outbuildings and the surrounding cultural landscape, agricultural activities, interpretive opportunities, ecological protection and restoration opportunities and the relationship of the property to Fort Chambers. The project includes site inventories, development of alternatives, selection, and finer scale planning and design of the preferred alternative (or package of management recommendations) with associated phasing and costing. OSMP staff extend their gratitude to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe providing guidance on a planned site management plan for the Fort Chambers/Poor Farm property, which has a direct, local connection to the Sand Creek Massacre.

2024-29 Planned Spending: $3,526,000

2024 Budget: $26,000

High Quality Trail Network and Reducing Trail Maintenance Backlog

The department continues to estimate roughly $30M in maintenance needs across the more than 150 miles of trails that make up the OSMP network. Each year, staff are addressing the backlog through high priority repairs and maintenance. In 2024, this project specifically bundles the three trails that access the Boulder Valley Ranch Mesa, as called for in the North Trail Study Area (NTSA) plan, including reroute and repair of the Cobalt trail; construction of the Shale trail to protect rare plants and reduce undesignated trails; and reroute of the section of the Eagle trail that descends from the Mesa.

2024-29 Planned Spending: $3,062,958

2024 Budget: $722,209

Local Food Farm Sites Improvements

This project involves constructing new or significantly enhancing existing agricultural infrastructure to provide diversified agricultural operations on OSMP irrigated and grazing land. Infrastructure to be constructed includes irrigation ponds and/or cisterns and necessary pumps, and residential or out-building construction or modifications to support these operations. OSMP has identified up to nine sites as priorities for infrastructure improvements to enhance local food sales.

2024-29 Planned Spending: $1,175,000

2024 Budget: $255,000

New and Enhanced Trailheads to Support Accessibility, Visitor Experience and Responsible Recreation

This project supports trailhead enhancements across the system with a focus on Coyote Trailhead, Chautauqua Trailhead, and Marshall Mesa Trailhead in 2024. The community has supported many strategies to create welcoming, accessible trailheads that provide great experiences for all visitors to OSMP while also addressing deferred maintenance of many assets. OSMP also has many opportunities to contribute to equity and resilience goals within the visitor infrastructure provided at trailheads across the system while addressing high visitation.

2024-29 Planned Spending: $9,515,000

2024 Budget: $1,655,000

Prairie Dog Conservation and Management

This project supports prairie dog conservation and management as directed by the Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan and Prairie Dog Working Group. It includes items such as relocation and passive relocation and other conflict mitigation actions, monitoring and research around prairie dog conservation, habitat management, and protection for prairie dogs and associated species.

2024-29 Planned Spending: $850,000

2024 Budget: $250,000

Restoration of Irrigated Agricultural Fields with Prairie Dog Conflict

An expedited review of prairie dog management and policy alternatives was accepted by OSBT and Council in 2020. This project aims to implement these strategies over multiple years to reduce the impact of prairie dogs on irrigated agricultural land and agricultural lessees. Prairie dogs will be relocated or otherwise removed from strategic irrigated agricultural land to restore agricultural production. Installation of visual or physical barriers will also occur to prevent reoccupation by prairie dogs from removal sites.

2024-29 Planned Spending: $2,470,000

2024 Budget: $440,000

Restoration of Vegetation, Riparian Habitats, and Wetlands

This project designs and implements the restoration of wetlands and riparian areas on the Culver and Boulder Valley Farms properties on Boulder Creek, Coal Creek, Axelson West and Suitts property (in 2024). The design will include plans and construction specifications that will guide the implementation of the plan. Design elements will vary between projects, but will include restoring riparian and floodplain wetlands that existed along Boulder, Coal Dry and South Boulder Creeks prior to irrigation infrastructure installation, gravel mining, and other human impacts. The projects will restore naturally functioning wetlands, convert formerly mined gravel pits (gravel ponds) to habitat that will support wetland and riparian dependent species, including Ute Ladies' Tresses Orchid and northern leopard frogs (a Colorado Tier 1 Species of Greatest Conservation Need), convert non-native grasslands to native grasslands, and create aquatic habitat to support several native fish species of concern.

2024-29 Planned Spending: $1,860,000

2024 Budget: $150,000

Soil Health Improvement Projects

This project will improve soil health and increase resilience to climate extremes on leased and unleased agricultural properties. Funding will support systematic implementation of soil health principles: reducing tillage, integrating livestock, armoring soil, diversifying plants in time and space, and maintaining continuous live plant and root systems. Methods will include keyline plowing, cover-cropping, seeding, invasive plant species management, prairie dog barrier fence installation, field irrigation infrastructure maintenance, mob grazing, and compost application, while also experimenting with cutting-edge practices found in agricultural literature and through consultation with colleagues at partner agencies.

2024-29 Planned Spending: $1,573,000

2024 Budget: $209,000