Boulder County Planning Commission Rejects Development Proposal in 5 to 4 Vote
Dream of a Twin Lakes Owl Preserve and Open Space moves closer to reality
(Boulder, Colorado) In a historic vote that resolves one of the biggest environmental controversies to have taken place in Boulder County, the Boulder County Planning Commission has rejected a land-use change proposal to build 300 apartments on the site of the proposed Twin Lakes Owl Preserve and Open Space. The decision has been widely praised in Boulder which places a high value on open space and natural areas.
Community members and environmental groups are supportive of affordable housing, but are delighted that the proposed development will be relocated and not be built on key owl habitat that is home to the most visited owls in Colorado. Boulder County Parks and Open Space indicates that 100,000 people visits occur each year at Twin Lakes in north Boulder with many specifically to see the great horned owls.
“The proposed Twin Lakes Owl Preserve and Open Space will be a wonderful place for people and owls,” explains Ken Beitel, Chair of Wilderness Conservation for the Twin Lakes Owl Preserve and Open Space organization, “We are grateful for the Planning Commission’s wisdom in protecting this remarkable ecosystem for future generations to come.” Dozens of species live on or use these meadows, including bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, geese and osprey, as well as red foxes, coyotes, mink, raccoons, tiger salamanders, western painted turtles, rabbits, bats and other mammals.
The night before the Planning Commission vote, Boulder Valley School District students, fellow Dreamakers, and Owl Preserve representatives presented at the monthly school board meeting and invited the Boulder Valley School District to help protect the owls by creating an Owl Education Center at the Twin Lakes Owl Preserve.
Among those giving testimony at the school board meeting were grade 5/6 students Anya Smith and Summer Cuppari Gould of Dream Tank who just released the Twin Lakes Owl documentary “Home of the Owls”. Featuring the remarkable perspective of a hunting great horned Owl, the documentary has gone viral on You Tube with more than 700 views in 3 days. The program can be viewed at www.BoulderOwlPreserve.org
“We had a warm welcome from the Boulder Valley School District the day prior to this historic vote and board members expressed interest in touring the proposed Owl Preserve and Open Space. We appreciate their willingness to discuss the potential creation of a BVSD Owl Education Center,” explains Ken Beitel, “Open to the community and complete with nature trails, interpretive signs and guided hikes, the Owl Education Center could become one of the most loved elements of the BVSD school district as 10,000 students and teachers each year experience the magic of baby owls learning to fly and the life-cycle of these wild great horned owls.”
If the proposed partnership with BVSD and Boulder County and the Twin Lakes community proceeds, several thousand BVSD students and community members will work with ecologists over the next year to restore the 20 acre Owl Hunting Meadow to native short grass prairie with abundant wildflowers. Half of the Owl Preserve board members are BVSD students who will guide the organization in providing educational experiences valuable to young people.