Conservation Committee

Minutes

September 3 2008

1. INTRODUCTIONS

Those present were Kirk Cunningham, Todd Sanford, and Jim Gallo. Jim Gallo is interested in open space management, especially in the West Conservation Area, but also other places. He has a history as a volunteer open space ranger and as a member of the advisory board dealing with the County’s North Foothills Open Space Plan (includes both Hall and Heil Ranch Open Space Parks).

2. THOUGHTS ON THE UPCOMING WEST CONSERVATION AREA TRAIL MANAGEMENT PLAN - Jim Gallo

* Most of the western part of the West Conservation Area is a Habitat Conservation Area, but the City has not been consistent in applying the HCA rules. For example, off-trail travel without a permit is allowed for access to the climbing sites on the Sacred Cliffs, i.e. the ridge leading south from the Green Mountain summit, and dogs are allowed off-leash on the Ranger Trail. He favors the required permit system for HCAs as a way of tracking use, if nothing else.

* The question of bike access off-road to Walker Ranch is a hot issue, but with no good ideas on the table. Physically, the best potential access is through private lands in Eldorado Canyon, and on the Chapman Road, which winds up from SH 119 to an area just east of the Flagstaff Road summit. What efforts has the City expended to acquire access through the private lands? The Chapman Road was once proposed as the main motor route up to the top of Flagstaff Mountain.

In the discussion on these points, Kirk thought the main climbing trails to climbing routes should be hardened to prevent erosion, and duplicate trails closed off. The cost of hardening access trails should be borne mostly by the climbing community. Kirk suggested that Jim interact with our Open Space Co-Chairs Leah and Brandon Hollinder in this and future Open Space issues.

3. FOREST MANAGEMENT - Todd Sanford

There is an omnibus wilderness bill that is now before Congress with a number of areas to be designated in a number of states. For Colorado, the wilderness proposal included is that for Rocky Mountain National Park. Todd has accepted an offer from the national Sierra Club to do some citizen lobbying on this bill in Washington DC during Public Lands Week, September 20-22. To that end, he has been trying to arrange visits with the Colorado delegation offices, sop far without much success, because of the busy election season.

Todd needs some assistance in getting the following information for this trip”

Kirk agreed to find more information on these questions.

4. PESTICIDES - Kirk Cunningham

The letter below was recently sent to City Council about the City’s IPM program:

TO: Boulder City Council

RE: Boulder Integrated Pest Management Program

DATE: 9/2/2008

Dear Council members;

It is our understanding that the City is in the process of hiring people for two new positions in the Environmental Affairs Office - an Urban Wildlife Coordinator and an Integrated Pest Management Coordinator. We suggest that this would be a good time for Environmental Affairs to re-evaluate the IPM program in general and, in particular, the effectiveness of the pesticide use decision matrix that is part of that program. We request that Council pass on this suggestion to the new City Manager in any way it deems appropriate.

The pesticide use decision matrix resulted from an initiative launched by the Sierra Club and others in the late 1990's to ban the use of toxic pesticides in city parks and rights-of-way where exposure to such toxic chemicals might harm the public. An IPM Task Force consisting of about twenty people - City staff, local experts, and advocates - was convened and met over the course of two years to examine the City’s use of toxic pesticides in all its operations, to reduce or eliminate that use if possible, and to make the staff’s decision-making processes regarding pesticide use more transparent to the interested public. The end products were lists of chemicals that would be allowed and not allowed, and a decision matrix in which several factors to be considered in using a pesticide were each given a somewhat subjective numerical score. The composite score for the proposed application would dictate chemical use or non-use or perhaps the use of a different chemical.

While, in the end, all the Task Force members formally bought on to the resulting matrix, it seemed to me and to others that the staff were not very comfortable with it, i.e. perhaps because it would unnecessarily burden their time and energy. The advocates on the panel were not entirely comfortable with it because we felt that the matrix involved a subjectivity that could be manipulated to reinforce decisions to use pesticides that would have been made without it, and because such a complicated system might disappear into the bureaucratic woodwork over time.

We think that a re-evaluation of the pesticide use matrix might address the following:
1) Has the matrix actually been used to the degree originally contemplated?
1) Has it enhanced the quality of the staff’s decisions to use pesticides?
2) Has it imposed an unproductive burden on staff time?
3) Has it made the decision-making process more accessible to the interested public?
4) Does it contain a mechanism to adjust the list of allowed/disallowed chemicals as new information and products come forward?

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,