Boulder County news roundup

City of Boulder

City of Boulder acquires conservation easement on Long’s Gardens

The City of Boulder has acquired a conservation easement on the 25-acre Long’s Gardens property in North Boulder, the City announced on April 22.

The property has been owned and operated by the Long family for more than a century and contains the city’s oldest gardens. It also serves as the headquarters for nonprofit Growing Gardens.

Long’s Gardens will remain in private ownership, but the City’s easement means agricultural and horticultural activities must continue on the property, with plans approved by the City.

The City spent $5.3 million to complete the acquisition of the easement; it marks the completion of a purchase that was first approved by city voters through an open space tax ballot question in 2019.

“The conservation easement honors and preserves the land’s agricultural past while looking to the future and all that this farm will continue to provide for the community — literally a place to connect to our roots,” Catherine Long Gates said on behalf of the Long family in a press release. “We’re very grateful to everyone that has worked to ensure this future.”

The City has pursued similar purchases in the past — acquiring conservation easements on private property limits development, conserves natural areas and helps facilitate integration with multi-use paths.

Report: Indigenous communities in Colorado River Basin lack clean water

Thirty tribes located in the Colorado River Basin lack access to a clean, reliable source of water. The water insecurity these tribes face has likely contributed to high pandemic death tolls in indigenous communities.

A new report from the Water and Tribes Initiative, released April 28, illuminates the problems:

More than any other racial demographic, Native Americans are most likely to lack access to piped drinking water. Navajo residents, in particular, are 67 times more likely than other Americans to live without access to running water.

Water quality is an issue, too; for instance, 75% of people living on Hopi land are drinking contaminated water. And water infrastructure is crumbling on tribal lands, and investments to fix those issues hasn’t kept up with the demand.

“This lack of access reflects historical and persisting racial inequities that have resulted in health and socioeconomic disparities,” the report states.

The report does outline some solutions. Calling the federal government’s approach to providing tribal lands with clean drinking water “haphazard and inefficient,” the Initiative suggests maximizing and pooling federal funds and resources to fix the problem. The federal government should work with local tribal authorities to accurately address shortcomings, the report found, and one outcome should be greater tribal control of water resources.

Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver, other Colorado mayors, ask Biden to back urban forests

As the Biden administration tackles a number of issues in its first few months in charge, a coalition of more than 30 mayors — including Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver and the mayors of Denver, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Lyons and Thornton — sent a letter asking for urban and community forestry to be included in pandemic recovery plans.

“Our urban and community forests are vital to combating climate change, creating good paying jobs and building more equitable communities,” the mayors wrote, while asking for increased funding and programs to increase urban tree cover.

Increasing tree cover in dense areas could have a big impact on combating climate change, improving lives and creating jobs. Trees in metropolitan areas and small towns across the U.S. absorb a little over 800,000 metric tons of air pollutants every year and prevent 575,000 cases of acute respiratory illness, the mayors wrote. They also cited stats that indicate trees reduce residential energy costs by $7.8 billion annually.

Increasing urban forestry will require better governmental organization — the mayors suggested a successful program will work with multiple agencies and private groups in areas across the country.

“Expanding these outcomes in our cities and in communities across the country is a necessary strategy to achieve the climate change and economic responses you have outlined for America’s recovery,” the mayors wrote to Biden.