Open Space Stewardship Plan
In December of 2014, City Council adopted the brand new 2014 Open Space Stewardship Plan. In 1985, voters in the City of Westminster approved a sales tax specifically earmarked to acquire and preserve open space land within the City. At that time, the City of Westminster Open Space Program was only the second municipal sales tax funded open space program in the state of Colorado. Since then, the City has preserved 3,090 acres of open space. This is nearly 15% of the City’s land mass.
Now that a large amount of property has been acquired and protected, the shift of focus will go from acquisition to management. These lands were acquired for the purpose of preserving their valuable natural resources. These natural resources, whether they are riparian areas, scenic vistas, rolling hills, or stream bank corridors, are vital to the integrity of open space and need to be managed in a way that is sustainable for the enjoyment of future generations. Management of the natural resources takes time and resources. The ecosystems found in our open space are fragile and require intensive management in order for them to thrive.
The 2014 Open Space Stewardship Plan focuses on that shift of priorities. It identifies the different land classes found in the City’s open space inventory, provides the cost to maintain these natural resources, and includes recommendations of resources that are needed. This plan also examines future capital improvements, the trails master plan, the wayfinding system, and funding sources.
Some of the following highlights of the 2014 Open Space Stewardship Plan are:
1. Almost 400 acres of the City’s open space are classified as “Transitional,” meaning they are undergoing restoration and require much larger monetary resources than other classifications.
2. Currently, the City’s field work staffing for open space management is two full-time employees (FTE), or 1:1500 acres of open space. Comparable ratios along the Front Range varies from 1:300 to 1:700.
3. The Open Space Stewardship Plan is recommending a minimum of four additional employees, three of whom would be field personnel. This is being recommended to begin in the City of Westminster 2016 budget. Funding is available within existing dedicated Open Space Tax revenues.
4. The greatest management areas that need to be addressed are noxious weed control and trail maintenance.
5. The City’s trail wayfinding system and signage is not current or complete and needs to be improved.
6. Acquisitions will still be needed for critical trail and open space links and to protect essential vistas.
View the 2014 Open Space Stewardship Plan.