When the city of Boulder first set aside land for open space, the city adopted a charter saying that access for mountain bikes, fishing and equestrians would only exist where designated. According to Dean Paschall, manager of public process and communications for Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), no one ever designated trails for horses until the latest round of recommendations from the Community Collaborative Group (CCG).
“We were sort of operating under the agreement that if we didn’t say you couldn’t go there, then they just went there,” Paschall says. “So it was sort of this inverse relationship where they felt that ‘Well, unless you say I can’t go there, I’m going to go wherever.’” After 16 months of work, the CCG announced its recommendations for the West TSA, including the ruling that 24.9 miles of trail be designated “Horses Not Allowed.”
Originally the number of closures to horses recommended by the CCG was much higher.
“We say all of the area that is east of the divide, these are all relatively flat and good trail systems, so we’ll designate that, and the places we feel that you cannot safely take a horse, we’ll say those are closed to equestrian use,” Paschall says. “Well, the equestrian community came out and said, ‘Well, you just screwed us. We had 100 percent of this before, and now we have 60 percent of what we had before.’” Paschall says the CCG and OSMP staff met with equestrians and worked to develop a third category, “Horses Allowed — Designed Use Pedestrian.”
“Most of the system is open to equestrian use,” Paschall says. “We should have designated use in ’64, but we didn’t, so we’re just getting around to it now.”