Repairs in progress to flood-ravaged Open Space parks

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Lair O’ the Bear and White Ranch parks reopened

“We’ve made some significant progress at Lair O’ the Bear,” said Stanton LaBreche, Jeffco parks operations manager, while speaking to the Jeffco Open Space Advisory Committee on Nov. 7.

With help from volunteers, the popular open-space park through which Bear Creek flows reopened on Saturday. One bridge that is considered unsafe is still closed in the park near Evergreen, LeBreche noted.

White Ranch Park in Golden, where heavy rains caused massive landslides, also reopened recently. However, the Mustang and Wranglers Run trails are still closed, along with a section of the Rawhide Trail.

The Mesa Top and Rim Rock trails in North Table Mountain Park near Golden also remain closed because of extensive flood damage, LeBreche said. A small section of the Iris Trail at Alderfer/Three Sisters Park in Evergreen also is still closed and in need of repairs.

While discussing work that still needs to be done in the parks, LeBreche said that funds anticipated from the Federal Emergency Management should cover about 75 percent of costs estimated at $605,000.

All damage to Jeffco parks has to be declared to FEMA within 60 days, LeBreche said.

The county has until March 2015 to complete repairs, according to FEMA guidelines.

“Of course, we don’t want to use that amount of time,” LeBreche said.

At Apex Park, badly eroded trails probably will be repaired — rather than re-routed as originally planned, he added.

LeBreche also is seeking additional volunteers to assist with park rebuilding. About 22 percent of 750 volunteers in the Jeffco Open Space database have come out to help clean up parks and repair damage, he said. And more are needed.

Open-space acquisitions

The Open Space Advisory Committee has approved a resolution to accept a donation of 29 acres of land from the Access Fund, a nonprofit organization. The property is within the city of Golden and located south of North Table Mountain Park.

The committee also voted to move forward with the purchase of two parcels totaling 800 acres from the State Land Board. The 640-acre Blue Mountain property is in Coal Creek Canyon, and the 160-acre Deer Creek property is south of Deer Creek Canyon Road.

While presenting the resolutions, Joy Lucisano, Jeffco parks acquisitions manager, said the Blue Mountain property has key conservation value because of its geological features, wildlife habitat and trail opportunities.

“These are wonderful properties,” said board chairman Wayne Forman.

The minimum bid for the two land parcels is $3 million, Tom Hoby, Jeffco Parks and Open Space director, had previously noted.

Committee members also approved an amendment designed to streamline the county’s administrative policy for use of open space funds. By moving from a two-step to a one-step process, county staff can discuss price “right out of the gate,” said Hoby.

“What we’re trying to do is to talk about cost earlier,” he said.

The advisory committee would have quarterly briefings on land acquisition negotiations.

Committee members Ken Morfit and Jan Wilkins also said that they wanted to ensure opportunities for public comment on land purchases.

Master plan revisited

Land preservation and stewardship, expanding the trail system and increased community involvement are among key goals in the latest draft of the Jeffco Open Space master plan update, which a subcommittee has been revising.

Acquiring and preserving land is the bedrock of the open space program, Wilkins said at the Nov. 7 meeting. Creating buffers around open space lands also is important, as well as preserving air quality, she said.

“Cigarettes cause fires,” Wilkins added.

“We need to say, ‘Smoke free,’ ” said committee member Tookie Nemchak.

“In your mind, is this the final draft?” asked Hoby.

‘There are still some things that need to be added and changed,” said member John Litz.

“I think we’re close to publishing a draft,” said Forman.

Once the draft is complete, there will be a public comment period before the plan is approved, Hoby said.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.