On April 14, the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department held the annual Land Conservation Awards ceremony. Here are highlights from the special gathering.
Land Conservation Award honors individuals, families, and organizations whose contributions demonstrate notable achievements in preserving Boulder County’s agricultural lands. After a 10-year effort, the project to protect the 3,334-acre Tolland Ranch was completed by the Toll family, the Conservation Fund, and partner agencies that included the Colorado State Forest Service, Boulder County, and Great Outdoors Colorado. In addition to the conservation easement, the Toll family placed a conservation easement over the property and granted a trail easement giving hikers, mountain bikers, nordic skiers, equestrians and other non-motorized trail users enhanced access to these areas. The conservation easement allows these recreational uses, while still protecting the Tolland Ranch’s natural and cultural resources.
Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes individuals, families or organizations that make significant contributions in land protection and/or management. Jim McKee was a volunteer naturalist for the department from 1991 until his death in 2015. He was a well-informed and well-rounded naturalist, and an expert on plants, wildflowers and weeds, birds, wildlife, and ecosystem preservation issues. McKee was a tireless advocate for conservation of natural resources and open space, and a member of the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee from 1996 to 2006. He also volunteered for the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department, Boulder County Nature Association (BCNA), and served on an advisory board for the State of Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Heritage Award honors individuals or organizations whose contributions demonstrate notable achievements in preserving Boulder County’s heritage through substantially privately funded historic preservation projects. In 2009, Boulder County acquired the 77-acre Vicklund property southeast of Longmont. Julius (Jules) Van Thuyne kept ownership of the house and wanted to keep its historic appearance. This project was not a small cosmetic makeover, but instead a foundation-to-roof rehabilitation that required approval of the Historic Preservation Advisory Board, building permits, and finding a talented construction contractor. The completed project respected the historic exterior appearance of the house and it remains a functional residence.
Partnership Award recognizes alliances with businesses and organizations around the county to foster a community-based stewardship ethic for the preservation and care of open space. Since 2012, the CU Program for Writing and Rhetoric has recruited students for volunteer projects. Participants are often international students who are unfamiliar with open space programs. The volunteer projects relate to their coursework. This program exemplifies the value added that comes with being involved in volunteer work projects. To date, the CU Program has removed four acres of trash, cleaned 1,470 feet of ditches, raked a half an acre of duff, restored 120 slash piles, restored 34 acres of forest, and maintained trail including construction of two drainage structures.
Outstanding Volunteer Award honors individuals whose leadership and support of the Parks and Open Space volunteer programs have enhanced our community partnerships and improved public service. This year, there were two recipients.
Blair Smallwood has volunteered with the department’s cultural history program since 2011. He is a valuable volunteer at the Agricultural Heritage Center. Smallwood guides tours for school groups and feeds, waters, and cleans up after livestock. At special events, he’ll churn butter, shell corn, rope fake calves, set up tents, and more. In addition, Smallwood attends most of the department’s farm tours, often donating prizes such as homemade greeting cards with his photographs of local farms.
Linda Garcia has been a Small Acreage Management volunteer for seven years, a Wildlife Master for three years, and has also been a Master Gardener. Garcia brings her personal experience as a small acreage owner as she answers questions about weed control, pasture management, reseeding and wildlife conflicts. Garcia also volunteered at “From Our Lands to Your Hands” events and the Boulder County Fair Crop Show. Linda’s outgoing personality makes her a great volunteer both to work with and in her interactions with the public.