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03.13.13 OSBT Chapman with AttachmentsAgenda Item 7 Page 1 CITY OF BOULDER OPEN SPACE BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING DATE: March 13, 2013 AGENDA TITLE: Chapman Drive Trail: Land Use Designation, Mountain Bike Use and Dog Management PRESENTERS Michael Patton, Director, Open Space and Mountain Parks Annie McFarland, Visitor Access Program Coordinator Heather Swanson, Wildlife Biologist Dean Paschall, Manager of Public Process and Communication EXECUTIVE SUMMARY With the purchase of the Schnell parcel, located on the northwest flank of Flagstaff Mountain approximately three and one-half miles up Boulder Canyon Drive, visitors to Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) are now able to make a trail connection from Flagstaff Drive down to Boulder Canyon, via Chapman Drive Trail (Attachment A). This trail connection was identified as a high priority in the West Trail Study Area (TSA) process. Currently, the Chapman Drive Trail (CDT) is open for pedestrian and equestrian use. It is also open to uphill bike use; downhill bike use is prohibited. Dogs are currently allowed on Chapman Drive Trail from the Tenderfoot Junction uphill to Flagstaff Drive under voice-and-sight control (V&S); dogs are not allowed downhill from that junction to Boulder Canyon. Agenda Item 7 Page 2 STAFF RECOMMENDED MOTION Staff requests Board consideration of this matter and action in the form of the following motion: That the Open Space Board of Trustees recommends that City Council: 1) designate the Schnell property as a Habitat Conservation Area (HCA), becoming part of the surrounding Western Mountain Parks HCA, 2) allow bike travel in both directions on the Chapman Drive Trail up and downhill five days a week, (two days a week bikes would be prohibited) and 3) that dogs be allowed on-leash on the entire length of Chapman Drive. COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENTS AND IMPACTS  Environmental: Open Space and Mountain Parks is a significant community- supported program that is recognized worldwide as a leader in preservation of open space lands contributing to the environmental sustainability goal of the City Council. The department's land acquisition, land and resource management and visitor service programs help preserve and protect the Open Space values of these lands.  Economic: Open Space and Mountain Parks contributes to the economic vitality goal of the city as it provides the context for the diverse and vibrant economic system that sustains services for residents. Diverse and high-quality opportunities for visitor activities in the West TSA help attract and support businesses and residents who seek such opportunities.  Social: Because the Open Space land system is accessible to all members of the community, it helps support council’s community sustainability goal because all residents who live in Boulder can feel a part of, and thrive in, this aspect of their community. OTHER IMPACTS  Fiscal: The cost to make the minor improvements necessary to implement the recommended uses on Chapman Drive Trail would be minimal.  Staff time: Initially it would take significant staff time to inform visitors of the new regulations. Over time, this high staffing level would decrease to a level representative of the entire OSMP system. PUBLIC FEEDBACK During January, 2013, OSMP staff met with interested stakeholder groups. During these meetings, each group was provided the opportunity to express their concerns and opinions about how to best manage uses on Chapman Drive Trail. Specifically, each group was asked to comment on bikes being allowed uphill only, bikes allowed to go up and downhill and possible management strategies to implement if bikes were allowed downhill. Each group was also asked their preferred management strategy for dogs along Chapman Drive Trail and their opinions regarding the proposed HCA designation of the Schnell property. Agenda Item 7 Page 3 OSMP also hosted an open house on Feb. 13, 2013, during which attendees were able to provide feedback regarding these three topics. BACKGROUND The West TSA identified the goal of pursuing a mountain bike/multiple-use trail connection between Flagstaff Drive and State Highway (SH) 119, using Chapman Drive. With the purchase of the Schnell property, this connection became possible. In late 2012, OSMP received the final approvals necessary to open the new Chapman Drive bridge. At the same time, the new trailhead constructed on the east (Red Lion side) of Boulder Creek was opened. The new trailhead can accommodate 11 vehicles and is the only parking available at this time near the northern end of the trail. OSMP is currently in the process of planning the construction of an auxiliary trailhead and parking on the west side of SH 119, directly across from the new bridge. When this new trailhead is completed, trail users parking at this location will be able to safely cross under the highway in an existing box culvert. In addition to providing recreational opportunities, the Schnell property offers protection and continuation of the natural values found within the adjacent Western Mountain Parks HCA. Diverse topography surrounding Chapman Drive on the Schnell property combined with north-facing slopes with seeps, springs, and riparian drainages support a variety of habitats that include mixed conifer forest, ponderosa pine forest and woodland, montane and riparian shrublands, and rocky outcroppings. It is highly likely that the Schnell property provides habitat for rare and uncommon plant species that occur on nearby OSMP land such as the Rocky Mountain sedge, wood lily, and several orchid species. The Schnell property along with adjacent areas such as Lost Gulch, combine to form the high quality, large habitat blocks that are typical of the Western Mountain Parks HCA. The Chapman and Schnell areas provide habitat to support a variety of forest and riparian dependent wildlife species. These include three known forest hawk territories (two Cooper’s hawks, one sharp-shinnned hawk), breeding forest owls, a diverse breeding bird community, mountain lion, bobcat, deer, elk, foxes, coyotes, pine marten, Abert’s squirrels and a variety of other species. Data from radio-collared animals show high use of the drainages in this area by both mountain lions and bobcats. Habitat suitability modeling shows areas of highly-suitable habitat for goshawk and other accipiters (forest hawks), Abert’s squirrel and foraging black bears. Continuity of habitat onto the recently purchased Schnell property suggests that these highly suitable habitats extend onto this property as well. See Attachment B for more detailed wildlife information and habitat suitability modeling. Chapman Drive provides a valuable emergency egress for the Flagstaff area in the event of fire, and for Boulder Canyon in the event of flooding. OSMP will continue to maintain Chapman Drive Trail at a level so that it is passable for vehicles and a Type VI fire engine. Currently, pedestrians and equestrian are allowed on Chapman Drive Trail. Bikes are also allowed, but must travel in the uphill direction only. Dogs continue to be allowed Agenda Item 7 Page 4 under voice-and-sight control from the top of Chapman Drive Trail, at Flagstaff Drive, to its junction with Tenderfoot Trail. Downhill from the Tenderfoot Trail junction to Boulder Canyon, dogs are currently prohibited. ANALYSIS Cultural resources Chapman Drive was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a division of the New Deal program launched during the Great Depression as a way to alleviate unemployment. They began construction in 1933 and the road was opened in 1935. It contains 28 historic elements which display beautiful rockwork, including a newly repaired switchback, cattle guard and retaining walls. OSMP does not believe that the staff recommendation will negatively impact the cultural resources in the area. Management Designation of Schnell At its May 16, 2011 meeting, Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) members unanimously recommended the purchase of the Schnell property by OSMP. At the time, the Board also made a recommendation that the property be designated an HCA and become part of the surrounding Western Mountain Parks HCA. During City Council discussion of the purchase, support for HCA designation was voiced. However, the final motion approving the purchase did not address the management designation. Based on the environmental values described above staff again recommends the Schnell property be designated as HCA. Regardless of what designation is ultimately decided upon, staff will need to return to City Council for a final decision on the management designation for Schnell. Staff Recommendation: 1. Staff recommends that the Schnell Property be designated an HCA and become part of the surrounding Western Mountain Parks HCA except the footprint area required to construct the future trailhead on the west side of Highway 119. Visitor experience Chapman Drive Trail provides an important regional connection for the community and provides a connection between SH 119 (Boulder Canyon) and Flagstaff Drive. From feedback OSMP received during the public process, it is expected that many of the bikers who ride up Chapman Drive to Flagstaff Drive will continue to Walker Ranch. However, bike use is only part of the puzzle when making a recommendation on how best to manage Chapman Drive Trail. Dog guardians also have an interest in Chapman Drive Trail and the ability to have a trail leaving Boulder Canyon to walk their dogs. Equestrians view Chapman Drive Trail as an opportunity to have a nice, generally shaded, experience in the mountain backdrop. Bike Management Staff utilized a matrix to evaluate a variety of management options against the following criteria: potential user conflict, resource impacts, safety, visitor opportunities and feasibility. Options that were explored include: continuing to allow bikes up-hill only, Agenda Item 7 Page 5 bikes up/downhill without restrictions and bikes up/downhill with additional restrictions. Examples of such restrictions include temporal management, installing speed calming devices and altering the road bed to create separate travel paths. Most of these examples were determined to be undesirable or not feasible given the need to maintain official use on the road for maintenance and emergencies. Staff believes that allowing bikes up/downhill with a temporal management scheme best meets the goal of providing for a regional bike connection, while continuing to allow for a contemplative hiking experience two days a week. Temporal management schemes similar to the recommendation are utilized in other places along the Front Range successfully, including Betasso and Centennial Cone in Jefferson County. Although discussed as an option on other trail projects, this would be the first time OSMP utilizes this tool. Staff Recommendation: 1. Staff recommends allowing bike traffic up and downhill on Chapman Drive with a temporal management scheme. Dog Management The current dog management practices on Chapman Drive Trail are dogs under voice and sight control from Flagstaff Drive to the Tenderfoot Trail junction and dogs prohibited from the Tenderfoot junction north to Boulder Canyon. Over the past few months, staff has spent time meeting with several stakeholder groups to seek input about visitor use options for Chapman Drive Trail. Among the visitor use opportunities explored were dog management options. The stakeholder group proposed options that ranged from Voice and Sight from Boulder Canyon to Flagstaff Drive to no dogs allowed in the entire area. At the time of purchase, OSMP recommended the lower portion of Chapman Drive be designated as an HCA, which the board approved and passed on to City Council for adoption. Although the Council motion was silent on this recommendation, if lower Chapman Drive is designated as HCA then the lower portion of the trail, if dogs are allowed, should follow the HCA default of dogs on leash and on trail. Because Chapman Drive Trail has the possibility of becoming a multipurpose trail that will allow downhill bike travel on relatively steep grades, staff feels that, for reasons of public safety, dog guardians need to possess the ability to exert physical control over their dogs to protect them from bikes traveling downhill. Staff Recommendation: 1. Staff recommends that dogs be allowed to travel on leash and on trail, between Boulder Canyon and Flagstaff Drive. This will provide the highest level of resource protection in the HCA and the greatest level of dog control for the safety of dogs and other visitor activity such as downhill mountain bike travel. Agenda Item 7 Page 6 a. An additional option would be temporal separation as is done for bikes in the Betasso Recreation Area. As requested by City Council, this would provide for a minimal new dog-free trail option providing hikers and runners a more contemplative experience, free from dogs and bikes on those days. For example, dogs and bikes could be prohibited on Wednesdays and Sundays. Submitted by: _________________________ Michael Patton, Director __________________________ Annie McFarland, Visitor Access Coordinator ATTACHMENTS: A: Chapman Drive Overview Map B: Wildlife Resources in the Chapman Drive and Schnell property area. MORR PEARL LNPEARLBLUELYNTO N 4TH STCANYON3RD CTBEACONW.ARAP.L N STST4TH5THSTMARSHALLSTHAPGOOD JAYG EURD 5TH STFLAGSTAFFCLEVE LAND AVE GILBERT STLNDR RKCIRCLEPACHRI S T M A S TREE D R GREGORY LNF la g sta ffDr.F la gstaffDr.F lagstaffSummitB o u lderCanyonD r.Art i s t P o i nt RangerMa y ’ s P o i n t T e n d e rf o ot HalfwayHouseL o n g C a n y o n Bluebell-BairdGr e g o r y Canyon Flag s taf fUteGre enMtnLodgeRoadAnem one Vi ewpoi n tRedRocks A m p h i t h eaterE xpress Baselin e Ute U teUt e F lag staff CrownRockA m p h i t h e a t erRangeViewBoy Sco u t B oy S c out Vi ewpoi n t TenderfootSensoryBetassoLinkTrai l Boulder Canyon Trail Flagstaff Summit West Flagstaff Summit East Settler’s Park Gregory Canyon Panorama Point Crown Rock Halfway House Realization Point Chapman Drive 0 1,000 2,000 Feet Path: E:\MapFiles\TSA\WestTSA\Implementation\Recreation\Trails\maps\ChapmanDrive\OpenHouse\Chapman_Overview.mxd Management Zone Designations Habitat Conservation Area Natural Area Passive Recreation Area Boundary OSMP Other Multi-Use Trail Chapman Drive Trail Overview Schnell Acquisition Trail Managed By OSMP Hiking Trail Chapman Drive Trail OSMP Trailhead with Designated Parking N Boulder Cany o n D r F lag sta ff R d . Boulder Canyon D r Flagstaff S u m m itFlagstaff Rd.Artist P o i ntMay’s Point T e n d e r f oot F l a g s t a f f C h a pman Dri v e Sen soryPl ains Ov e r l o okUteU t e Ute UteRange ViewBoy Sco u t Boy ScoutG r e g ory Ca n y o nTenderfootBoulder C a n y o n T r a i l Flagstaff Summit West Flagstaff Summit East Realization Point Chapman Drive 0 500 1,000 FeetPath: E:\MapFiles\TSA\WestTSA\Implementation\Recreation\Trails\maps\ChapmanDrive\Memo\Chapman_Habitat_noPhoto.mxd Management Zone Designations Habitat Conservation Area Natural Area Passive Recreation Area Other Multi-Use Trail Chapman Drive Trail Habitat Indicators N Schnell Acquisition Likely Abert’s Highly Suitablle Habitat Likely Black Bear Highly Suitablle Habitat Likely Goshawk Highly Suitablle Habitat Modeled Abert’s Highly Suitable Habitat Modeled Goshawk Highly Suitable Habitat Modeled Black Bear Highly Suitable Habitat OSMP Trailhead with Designated Parking Trail Managed By OSMP Hiking Trail Chapman Drive Multi-Use Trail