Land Conservation Awards

On April 26, the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department (BCPOS) 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. Ron Stewart’s longstanding and dogged dedication to protecting open space and preserving the unique “feel” of Boulder County is an accomplishment that will live on for future generations. A Longmont resident, Stewart was a member of the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee for six years, county commissioner for 20 years, and BCPOS director for 18 years. Thanks in big part to Stewart, the job of conserving land for open space has been done so well that Boulder County has almost 105,000 acres of open space to manage for the public’s benefit.

Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes individuals, families or organizations that make significant contributions in land protection and/or management. Carron Meaney is an exceptional ecologist and mammologist. As a Preble’s meadow jumping mouse expert, she has assisted BCPOS and the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department with monitoring and managing their habitat. Her guidance was invaluable in helping BCPOS launch a long-term study to monitor the impacts of the 2013 flood on this federally protected species.

Heritage Award honors individuals or organizations whose contributions demonstrate notable achievements in preserving Boulder County’s heritage through substantially privately funded historic preservation projects. Eric Stevens and Michelle Wieber were recognized for the repair and restoration of the Wood House after a mud slide, triggered by the 2013 flood, severely damaged the circa 1875 house. The building was constructed by the Wood family during the hard rock mining boom in the newly established Salina community, and is an excellent example of a vernacular late 19th century wood frame house. Stevens and Wieber received two grants from the Boulder County Landmark Rehabilitation Grant Fund, and then matched the grants with their own funds to repair the house.

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. Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures (SMBA) has been a trail stewardship partner since 2010. SMBA is the longest running, independent junior mountain bike program which introduces youth riders to the sport. They have participated in 17 projects and contributed 1,870 hours to the department. The most impressive part of their volunteer work is that nearly all the kids ride up from Boulder to open space work sites! This partnership has been a great opportunity to address critical trail maintenance needs at Betasso Preserve, Heil Valley Ranch and Hall Ranch, as well as creating a learning experience regarding public land management for their young members.

Outstanding Volunteer Awards honor 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 three recipients.

Melinda and Lauren Courtman have volunteered for the department since 2014. The mother-daughter team are native garden stewards at the Peck Native Seed Garden, tending the garden and monitoring seed development in order to collect those seeds. Both lead volunteer seed collections (Lauren is the youngest seed collection crew leader we have trained to date) and help with seed cleaning projects. Last year when a group was unable to finish a large lot of choke cherry seeds, the Courtmans insisted on taking the seeds home to finish the cleaning on their own to ensure the berries didn’t mold. The two have been instrumental in cleaning the much needed flood recovery species we collected in 2016.

Cynthia Baker has been a master food safety advisor for six years. She provides consumers with up-to-date, safe food preservation/safety information. Her engaging communication skills make her an effective educator with others, both face-to-face and on the telephone. Baker’s experience in food preservation, especially canning, is exceptional. She often takes produce from the CSU Extension Community Garden to make jams for CSU Extension Horticulture and Family & Consumer Sciences Agents to use in programming efforts.

Land Conservation Awards
Commissioner Deb Gardner, Michelle Wieber (Heritage Award), Eric Stevens (Heritage Award), Carron Meaney (Stewardship Award), Commissioner Elise Jones, Kara Stewart, (Land Conservation Award), Sean Stewart (Land Conservation Award), Melinda Courtman (Volunteer Award), Lauren Courtman (Volunteer Award), Commissioner Cindy Domenico, Conor Knight (Partnership Award), Jessie Bronson (Partnership Award), Emily Knight (Partnership Award), and Matt Tomasko (Partnership Award)