Conservation Committee

Minutes

May 5, 2010

THOSE PRESENT: Kirk Cunningham, Deirdre Butler, and Jim Gallo


1) OPEN SPACE ISSUES - Jim Gallo

The main issue discussed by Jim was the ongoing West TSA Community Consultation Group process. Recently Todd Bryan was dismissed as the facilitator of the process and replaced by Heather ? The rumor is that Todd incurred the wrath of recreationists by appearing to be too much in favor of conservation, as evidenced by the fact that recreationists did read an open letter to the CCG discussing their displeasure with Todd.

The CCG agenda is now to address only the specific plans of the interest groups. The Conservation Caucus came up with the following general ideas from its members:

The statements/plans of the above are all located on the on the city open space web site

In general, the Conservation Caucus has not been able to address all the issues that could be brought to the table. For the first time the staff members representing the Open Space Department indicated their plan, a rather disappointing one advocating greater dog access through more designated trails, somewhat more bike access, and less conservation area because of area fragmentation. It will be interesting to see how these positions are reflected in any final document, and we may need to oppose them before City Council.

Another upcoming open space management issue, regarding Boulder County’s open space agricultural properties, is initiating. Anyone having an interest in this topic should contact me.

2. WILDLIFE ISSUES - Deirdre Butler

In her role as Chapter Wildlife Chair, Deirdre has been trying to change the draconian policies of Greenwood Village on its open space areas, where it appears that coyotes will be eliminated more or less at will and without provocation. This policy is in stark contrast to more reasonable polices in surrounding communities. Deirdre sent out a letter to about 300 Sierra Club members in that area asking them to express an opinion to the Greenwood Village Council on this issue. Coyotes have not yet proven to be a contentious issue on Boulder City or County Open Spaces yet.

Another Chapter wildlife role is her effort to change the national Club’s policy with respect to trapping, which presently is at best ambiguous on the subject. She and other wildlife activists within the Club would like to see the Club adopt a position opposing trapping under most circumstances, due to the cruel and poorly-targeted nature of that “harvesting” method. The national Board of Directors has not payed much attention to her proposal thus far, so she intends to approach Chapter wildlife chairs and Chapter Council of Club Leaders delegates to exert indirect pressure on the BOD. Her proposed addition to the Club’s present policy on Wildlife, and Native Plant Management, Sport Hunting and Fishing reads:

Sierra Club opposes the capture, confinement, harassment and/or killing of native and non-native free range wildlife for the purpose of entertainment, including, but limited to penning, animal fighting, dog training, and canned hunting. Additionally, the Club opposes unregulated and unethical hunting methods which, like trapping, also violate fair chase standards, such as electronic or remote hunting, aerial gunning and contest hunting which is not regulated by government authority. Killing an animal while it is restrained in any kind of trap, trapping device corral, or fenced enclosure is not considered sport hunting and is an unacceptable form of recreation. Recreational fur trapping is an unacceptable use of wildlife and is opposed.

Other Chapter wildlife issues that Deirdre is dealing with and that might have some local significance at some point are the CDOW expanded quotas for black bear, especially in the Aspen area, and especially because residents there are very careless about garbage disposal. The total number of bear licences issued is now about 12,000 each year, with only about 1000 bears actually killed each year. In other words, the potential exists for a much greater impact on the bear population despite little actual data about bear numbers and how hunting affects them. As the City of Boulder deals more with bear in its urban wildlife management plan, we might expect pressures to up the bear licence numbers in Boulder County. Deirdre is also concerned about some recent relaxation of rules governing the taking of fledgling falcons by falconers.

In Boulder the City’s Grasslands Management Plan is nearing completion. The Club allied with other groups had some objections about aspects of prairie dog management in the Plan, which have resulted in some minor Plan changes for the better, e.g.:

The above revisions (and others in other parts of the Plan) go to City Council on May 18th.

Regarding the City’s developing Urban Wildlife Management Plan, Deirdre reports the following:

3. PESTICIDES/WATER QUALITY - Kirk Cunningham

The Dandelion Festival, sponsored in part by the IPG and having an IPG booth staffed by Kirk and Angela Medbery (RMC Pesticides Chair), was modestly successful. Thanks to the IPG Ex-Com for approving a donation of $100 to this purpose. Recently, there has been considerable press about Boulder people protesting the use of toxic chemicals to control dandelions on both private and public property, so the issue is not simply limited to a few people in the Club or Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.

In the water quality / wetlands protection arena, Kirk recently met with some people in south Longmont who were complaining about a Longmont/Corps of Engineers project to harden the Left Hand Creek channel for alleged flood prevention. The complaint was that the removal of riparian trees and shrubs that would reduce existing amenity and wildlife habitat values. Kirk sent in a letter to the Corps for the Club stating that the tree removal was excessive and the three under-street crossing culvert enlargements in the proposed project missed one key street crossing entirely. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the project will be modified.

If you have questions about the above topics or any other aspects of the IPG’s conservation agenda, please contact me.

Kirk Cunningham, IPG Conservation Chair
303-939-8519 / kmcunnin@juno.com