Boulder Open Space Call to Action
Posted on Sun, May 15, 2011

Boulder  Municipal Building, Broadway & Canyon, 6pm -- and speak on behalf of your fellow equestrians.  Note:  public comment signup starts at 5:00 pm and it's first come first served -- so come early and sign up or you may not get a chance to speak.

For an update on the work done so far click here

Links of interest from previous report:

May 17 Council Info (this is a huge document - go to page 230 where the horse item starts.)

Boulder County Horse Assoc. Position Papers on:

Horses and Weeds

Horses and Wildlife

Horses and Trails and the Need for Horse Trailer Parking

We need to convince the Council that horses belong on Open Space, and that horses are as much a part of Boulder as The West and The Flatirons.

We need to convince the Council that horse people care about nature.  We need to convince them that we don't, in fact, trample vegetation or bird nests, that we don't spread weeds, that we don't threaten elk or small children.  We need to convince them that we've been out there riding those trails (and riding off those trails) for more than a hundred years, with no problems and no complaints.  We need to convince them that horses can be used by park rangers, park hosts, and search & rescue operations -- and that our going off-trail occasionally is a necessary and desirable part of horseback riding.

We need to convince the Council that the new, extremely limited trailer parking OSMP has built in the last few years outside the West TSA doesn't "steal" parking from anyone else;  in fact, it's cars that have "stolen" the places where we equestrians used to be able to park!  We need a tiny amount of new horse trailer parking in just a few key places in the West TSA in order for us to be able to ride where horses are still allowed. We've even offered to help pay for it.  Adequate parking is necessary so that all equestrians can access open space whether they live close to it or not.

Most important, we need to convince them that we negotiated in good faith and convinced everyone in the CCG and the OSBT that we should be treated with respect.  Now it's time that Staff and Council treat us with respect also.

OK, onto the Towhee Trail.  Council seems to be pretty darned intransigent about this one, even though I believe their reasoning is flawed and reactionary and amounts to "environmental creep" (the tendency for preservationists to always want more, more, more than whatever deal has already been made).  Unfortunately... the OSBT decided to throw Council a sacrificial bone, and this was it.

Fortunately... the Homestead Trail, immediately south of and parallel to the Towhee Trail, was designated "Open to Horses -- Design Equestrian" which means that staff has to upgrade this trail to equestrian standards.  That's a good thing, because the Homestead Trail today is a mess:  it's steep, rocky, and the steps are falling apart.... and nobody I know would go either up or down it on a horse.  Unfortunately... staff assigned this work a "low priority" (surprise!) during the CCG process, but I wasn't too worried about it then because it never occurred to me that they would try to close the Towhee.

So here's my proposal:  Urge Council to keep Towhee open to horses until the Homestead Trail has been rebuilt, and we'll support the closure of Towhee at that time.

It seems to me that this "deal" would adhere to the phased management guidelines outlined in the Visitor Master Plan, would placate the environmentalists, would give us a better trail than we have now and would get the job done sooner, and would allow everyone to save face.

If some of you want to lobby for keeping Towhee, that's fine too.

In summary, we're asking for:

1) More horse trailer parking in a few key places such as Flagstaff and Sanitas

2) Keep Towhee Trail open to horses / rebuild Homestead for horses

3) Keep off-trail access for horses in Natural and Passive Recreation Areas (not just "east of the Mesa Trail."

Please jump in one more time on this, folks.  We have one last chance to salvage some good things from what may still be a debacle.  But it won't happen without you!

To View more Background Information Click Here

Call To Action

Please participate in the Council meeting May 17, 6pm 

Wear a white hat (if you have one, if not, any riding headgear will do...) and wear a bridle over your shoulder! 

If you absolutely can't do that, please write a nice little friendly email NOW, while you're thinking about it,  to  the Boulder City Council at

and be sure to send a copy to the Open Space Board of Trustees by going to the OSBT website and clicking on "Send a Message to the Board"  and a copy to  the Open Space Department (Staff) at 

Be firm, be polite, be friendly, and do not criticize any other user group or governmental body.  Just state your beliefs about the importance of horses on Boulder's Open Space & Mountain Parks, include a short personal horse-related  experience, and include a request that Council support the recommendations of the Community Collaborative Group (CCB), the Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT), and Boulder County Horse Association (BCHA) regarding horses in the West Trail Study Area.

So please -- do it now, while you're thinking about it!

For more information contact Suzanne Webel, BCHA representative to the Community Collaborative Group, at 303-485-2162 or email

Hope to see you at the meetings!