I’m Therese Glowacki, the recently appointed Director of Boulder County Parks & Open Space (BCPOS). I am thrilled to share what my job entails. Although this job is new to me, I have been with the department for 23 years as the Resource Management Division Manager. This experience gave me insight into many workings of our department. I just get to look at things from a different angle now.
BCPOS has a strategic plan that outlines key areas for us to work on, all of which are important to me personally. These four areas are: diversity and equity, climate adaptation, maintenance backlog, and safety. Every day, I tackle these issues and help the department address them. I’ll give you some examples.
Diversity and Equity
I believe that racial equity is necessary, fair, and just. I work daily to help BCPOS staff embrace our Cultural Responsiveness and Inclusion Strategic Plan (CRISP) and give them the tools and resources to implement its goals. As an organization, I want our department to look like our community, so I am committed to hiring more employees who are Spanish-speaking, Latinx, Black, indigenous, and people of color. We have recently added three Spanish-speaking rangers and our Natural History Program Coordinator, all who interact with the public daily.
This week I have been working to combine two former staff positions to create a partnership position that will help us reach the Latinx community. I joined Explorando Senderos, a Latinx weekly hiking group, at their first birthday party last fall and heard how their weekly hikes on open space are inspiring them to enjoy the outdoors, get fresh air and exercise, and learn about nature, all with their families. This is a small step in expanding our outreach so our visitors also reflect our community’s diversity.
I love these multi-cultural experiences because we learn from each other. These experiences bring fun, richness, beauty, and humanity to our daily lives.
Climate adaptation is another passion of mine. Today I met with the Director of the county’s Office of Sustainability, Climate Action and Resilience. We talked about emerging carbon markets that could help our tenant farmers get funding to increase carbon farming on county open space. Managing our natural landscapes, like increasing wetlands and riparian areas, also helps fight climate change. Last Friday I joined a group evaluating the Cal-Wood Fire recovery on Heil Valley Ranch. Over the last 18 months, staff and volunteers planted trees, seeded grass, and put aerial mulch on the burned areas to help stabilize the soil, take carbon from the air, and reduce the potential for future flooding. We also enlarged culverts so they will be resilient in the storms we expect as the climate changes. I also talk with our Agricultural Division staff about ways to encourage more sustainable farming practices, like cover crops and compost addition. Putting more funding toward these goals will help reduce soil erosion, reduce dust pollution, and draw carbon out of the air.
Last week I went to the LOBO Trail in Gunbarrel and Twin Lakes with our trails staff to talk about maintenance backlog. This 20-year-old trail shows signs of use by thousands of bike riders and hikers. Although people continue to enjoy it today, an expert trail staff sees water pooling and potholes. Their summer project will be upgrading two of the worst miles of our 66 miles of gravel trails. I increased our seasonal budget to help get additional, enthusiastic staff out working on this backlog this summer and into the future.
Safety is a less glamorous topic but is paramount in assuring visitors, staff, and volunteers safely enjoy our open space. In the past several weeks we had notification that a fire started on or near open space. I see those notifications and touch base immediately with our forestry and ranger staff to see if they need to respond to help put the fire out or evacuate neighbors. I also talk to our Fairgrounds Manager once an evacuation order is issued. For the Marshall Fire, they housed more than 840 animals for a few days. Providing this public service is complex and rewarding. We are also increasing safety training and daily safety checklists for staff.
One final thing I do almost daily is talk about real estate. We are usually working on a purchase or two, including one found in the middle of Heil Valley Ranch. Inside our beloved park is State Land Board-owned land that we have been renting for more than 25 years. Our staff is now negotiating how to buy that land at fair market price so that BCPOS can manage it as we do the surrounding park. The State Land Board is obliged to make money on their land to help support education in Colorado, something we too support. Now comes the complexities of getting the land valued and drafting sales agreements and purchase contracts, the nitty gritty of what, when, where and how much $$$!
These are a few of the fun and exciting topics I deal with every day. I try to be sure to get out to our properties weekly to connect with the birds, trails, trees, and staff to see the projects our department is working on that help you get out there and enjoy this treasure we call Boulder County Parks & Open Space.