See you next spring ...
Seasonal closures for Twin Buttes, Grnadview start Dec. 1

See you next spring ...

The upper Twin Buttes trails, along with several others, will be closed starting Dec. 1 for wildlife.

Tracy Chamberlin - 11/23/2017

Trails to close for season on Dec. 1

The time for some trails has come to end – at least, for the winter. Seasonal closures begin for many area trails and trail systems on Dec. 1.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, these closures help wildlife during the taxing winter months, and violations can mean tickets and fines.

“Winter is difficult for wildlife, especially deer and elk,” Brad Weinmeister, terrestrial biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said. “We’re fortunate in the Durango area to provide places for animals to take refuge. We ask that people respect wildlife by observing the closures.”

Grandview Ridge, Animas Mountain, the top of Twin Buttes, Bodo State Wildlife Area and Perins Peak are just some of the trails that will be closed, from Dec. 1-April 15. Signage will be installed to inform trail users of closures, limited hours and more.

Dalla Mountain and Overend Mountain parks will remain open throughout the winter season. Other trails open year round include those around Fort Lewis College, the Colorado Trail, Crites Connect and Skyline areas, Horse Gulch, Telegraph and more.

To keep up with closures, check out Trails 2000’s trail conditions report at www.trails2000.org.

City considers cut to Organic Parks

The city’s Organic Parks Program is likely to see some changes in the coming year.

Following a visit this summer from Tony Koski, a turf specialist with Colorado State University, the current condition of some parks in the program isn’t sustainable. Whether it’s the weeds, the bare spots or the overall condition, many parks in the program aren’t living up to the city’s standards.

At a recent Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting, the city’s Parks and Rec Director Cathy Metz recommended the changes. Specifically, some parks would be taken out of the program completely, while others would receive a hybrid treatment with both synthetic and organic practices. Only two parks – Pioneer and Brookside – would receive organic-only treatment.

Funding was a part of the board’s discussion because organic treatment is more costly, but, according to Metz, the condition of the parks was the deciding factor. “It’s really always been about the quality of the parks,” she said.

The proposal is to use organic fertilizer and spot treat weeds at Pioneer and Brookside Parks. Synthetic fertilizer and a spot treatment of weeds will be used at Riverfront, Iris, Folsom and Schneider parks. Fanto and Needham parks would return to conventional turf management, which is defined as using low-risk products examined by the San Juan Basin Health Department.

The Organic Parks program, which began in 2012, was developed as a collaborative effort between the city and a local advocacy group, Organic Parks Durango. At first, it included nine parks, or about one-third of Durango’s park system.

The city hired a professional consultant, Chip Osborne, founder and president of Osborne Organics based in Marblehead, Mass. With more than a decade of experience in the field, Osborne helped the city develop a plan to manage these nine parks organically.

One thing he made clear in the beginning was that the process was going to take time and money.

First, it would take time for the soil, plants and ecosystem of each park to relearn how to be a healthy, wild ecosystem and exist without the biannual spraying of herbicides. Financially, this meant it would cost more to initiate the process but, eventually, the grasses and other plants would need less help, and maintenance would be less expensive.

In the first year, however, the Riverview Sports Complex was taken out of the program. The high-impact, heavy use of the park made it difficult for the organic management processes to work. The other eight parks – Brookside, Fanto, Folsom, Needham, Pioneer, Riverfront, Iris and Schneider – remained in the program. The city discussed removing other parks from the program during budget discussions in 2015 and 2016.

This year, however, those discussions might become a reality. The proposed changes to the Organic Parks Program will be a topic at a City Council study session, scheduled for 4 p.m., Dec. 12. Metz could not say exactly when that topic will be discussed during the meeting. The public cannot comment during study sessions, but they can observe the discussion.