CPW announces the development of a visitor use management plan at Eldorado Canyon State Park
BOULDER, Colo. - Colorado Parks and Wildlife is announcing the start of its visitor use management planning process to look at managing higher visitation levels and providing for quality recreational experiences at Eldorado Canyon State Park. CPW has selected Keystone Policy Center and SE Group as the consultants on the project.
Public involvement will play a key role in creating this visitor use management plan.
“We want the community to be engaged in this process and be a part of finding solutions to the traffic congestion issues that exist,” said Park Manager John Carson. “The overall goal is to enhance recreational experiences while protecting the natural resources of the park. We want to be a good neighbor in our community, and also be a good host that provides enjoyable experiences to our visitors. The public can help us in achieving these goals."
There will be several avenues for the public to be engaged. First, CPW has established a task force with representatives from various land management agencies, the local community and recreational user groups. CPW will hold open houses or listening sessions this summer, and will develop a website with online comment forms for the general public to comment on preliminary alternatives.
The plan will focus on providing for and managing visitor use to protect resources and enhance visitor experiences. The plan will differ from the traditional Colorado State Park management planning process because its primary focus is to analyze recreational capacity of the park and to propose alternative management strategies to mitigate capacity issues. This planning process will:
• Define the desired future conditions of the park, including resource protection and visitor experiences.
• Consider adjacent communities and public open spaces.
• Consider transportation planning in the context of visitor use and resource protection.
• Identify current management strategies and their effectiveness.
• Establish the “capacity” of Eldorado Canyon State Park, defined as the amount and type of use the park can accommodate to achieve desired future conditions.
• Identify differences between current conditions and desired future conditions.
• Use a robust public process to inform development of alternatives and strategies for how CPW will manage the park for desired conditions.
• Consider consequences and impacts to neighboring open space properties in the development and analysis of management strategies.
• Consider current staffing levels and if they are sufficient to effectively implement proposed management strategies.
• Develop monitoring protocols and benchmarks to use during implementation of strategies to evaluate their effectiveness.
• Document “lessons learned” and “best practices” and develop a system for establishing and monitoring capacity to replicate this process in other high-use parks.
The anticipated timeline for the management planning process is May 2019 through December 2020.
This effort stems from the partner agency effort to evaluate a connection trail between Boulder County Walker Open Space and Eldorado Canyon State Park, which was put on hold by CPW in March to allow the agency to address these issues.
The evaluation of the connector trail will continue to play a part in this process, as CPW keeps an eye on both the issues at hand now and what recreational opportunities may look like for years down the road.
The feasibility study was a partnership between CPW, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks and Boulder County Parks & Open Space dating back to 2013 when the agencies began to examine the feasibility of a multi-use trail connection. In 2015 that was given a boost when then Governor John Hickenlooper designated the trail as a potential connection in his Colorado the Beautiful initiative.
In the time from the feasibility study’s start in 2013 to its conclusion in 2018, Colorado, and specifically the Front Range, saw significant population increases. Eldorado Canyon State Park experienced this first hand as visitation at the park increased from approximately 260,000 visitors in 2016 to 520,000 in 2018.
CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.