Open Space

Bayou Gulch Connector Trail
A new 4-mile soft-surface trail has been completed on Bayou Gulch Open Space and is now open to the public for non-motorized use.  Parking is available at Bayou Gulch Regional Park at 4815 Fox Sparrow Road, Parker, CO 80134.  A connection to the new trail is on the west side of Bayou Gulch Regional Parks, and crosses Bayou Gulch Road at a cross-walk with a self –activated light to stop traffic.  The trail around the edge of the open space is open to pedestrians and equestrians only.  The connector that runs west under highway 83 to the Cherry Creek Regional Trail is open to pedestrians, equestrians, and bicyclists.  The peripheral trail may be closed from time to time to accommodate equestrian events of the Colorado Horse Park; the connector trail will remain open at all times.  The horse jumps and the pathways leading to the jumps are the private property of the Colorado Horse Park and are not open to the public.  Questions about the Bayou Gulch Open Space and the new trail may be referred to the Division of Open Space and Natural Resources at 303-660-7495.

Sharptail Ridge Open Space Hunting Closure Dates
Sharptail Ridge open Space will be closed to public use from September 4 through September 30, 2014 and again from October 9 through November 18, 2014. The property will be open to the public between September 30 and October 8, 2014 and then again on November 19, 2014.  This closure is due to the annual “by permit only” big game hunting season. The property will be available only to those hunters that were successful in obtaining a permit through the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. Please call 303-660-7495 with any questions.

 NOTICE:  Douglas County Division of Open Space and Natural Resources will be conducting prairie dog and land management activities on Hidden Mesa Open Space in July 2014. These activities could occur sporadically through the end of November 2014. Douglas County Government must manage these populations to reduce the degradation of other natural values on this County owned property and to prevent encroachment onto the adjacent public and private properties. These efforts are part of greater overall management efforts to maintain viable populations of prairie dogs in Douglas County while reducing conflicts with neighbors, trail users, agricultural operations, and other open space management objectives. These Open Space parcels are being managed by the Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources Division in accordance with the County’s Prairie Dog Conservation Policy.

For any questions please contact Andy Hough with Douglas County Open Space at 303.660.7495.

Mission

Douglas County Division of Open Space and Natural Resources seeks to enhance the quality of life for residents by protecting wildlife habitat, natural resources, historic sites, scenic views and Douglas County’s rural heritage while providing a wide range of compatible outdoor recreation and educational opportunities.

Funding

The Douglas County Open Space Program was created in 1994 with the passage of a sixth-of-a-cent sales and use tax. Douglas County has purchased land at today’s prices, however much of the program’s  revenue stream is committed to bond payments. Future land acquisition will require additional funding sources.

Priorities

Douglas County seeks to protect open space by accomplishing a variety of conservation objectives including:

  • Preservation of important wildlife habitat and movement corridors.
  • Perpetuation of the County’s rural landscape and agricultural heritage.
  • Creation of community buffers.
  • Protection of scenic views, historic properties and archaeological resources.
  • Enhancement of passive recreational opportunities.
  • To maximize the impact of limited funding and to enhance the effectiveness of the program, the Douglas County Open Space program focuses on acquisition efforts in four priority areas throughout the County including: the Chatfield Basin, High Plateau, Cherry Creek Corridor and south I-25 Conservation Corridor.

The Vision for Open Space for Douglas County, Colorado, a plan completed in 2012, identifies lands with high conservation values from the above list, as well as water resources, iconic landscape features, high quality vegetation, and creating a network of preserved open space.  The visionary plan will serve only as a guide for Douglas County to work with willing landowners.

Management

Since the creation of the Open Space Sales and Use Tax in 1994, Douglas County has focused considerable effort on land acquisition – protecting 48,741 acres of open space land in the County.  Staff focus is on developing and implementing management plans for these properties, including Columbine, Glendale, Greenland, Sharptail Ridge, Spruce Mountain, Dawson Butte, Spruce Meadows, and Hidden Mesa.   The Division will continue to expand public access and passive recreational trails on open space land where it is appropriate.

In addition, Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources will continue to manage natural resources through active restoration of natural habitats, noxious weed control and revegetation efforts, establishing trails that minimize impacts to native plant and wildlife communities, conducting historical renovations where possible, and providing conservation education and recreational benefits to residents.

Education, Outreach and Special Events

Educational programs are important tools for land management and public awareness of Douglas County’s protected properties. Education through interpretive programs and guided hikes teach respect for natural resources and land stewardship, while allowing people to develop a sense of ownership and community service.

  • Educational programs – Several properties serve as ‘classrooms’ for environmental education and historical interpretation. For example, Prairie Canyon Ranch is managed as a working cattle ranch to preserve historic values and protect wildlife habitat, while it also provides unique educational opportunities for students of any age. Topics of study could include plant and animal ecology, Colorado history, agriculture, aquatic studies, geology and geography.
  • Outreach – Staff and volunteers may be available to present special programs or displays for events, or provide an overview and history of the Division to various organizations.
  • Special Events – Events such as horse rides, guided hikes, celebrations, or educational demonstrations can be hosted at one of the open space properties.