The Mountain-Ear is located at:
20 E. Lakeview Drive, Unit 109 (inside Brightwood Music).
Our mailing address is PO Box 99, Nederland, CO 80466.

Phone: (303) 810-5409
Email: info@themountainear.com
Website: www.themtnear.com

Protect habitat, watersheds and undeveloped landscapeFree Access

Dear Editor,

I wish to respond to a recent letter that basically claimed that new annexations would not diminish the ecological and open space values of surrounding lands any more than existing development, including Big Springs, Caribou Ridge and the junior-senior high school. Indeed, new annexations and existing developments all have impacts to habitat, watersheds, and the undeveloped nature of the landscape.

With each expansion of the human footprint is an equal permanent loss of habitat, the degree of which is related to the intensity of development and the context of its location. The development of relatively natural lands on the perimeter of town will likely have a greater ecological impact than development of a parcel within town. Undeveloped lands on the edge of town have a stronger relationship to the surrounding landscape, along with the many animals that have large territories and mostly avoid intensely developed areas. The ecological values of an undeveloped parcel within town have already been greatly compromised as it is surrounded by developed lands and is isolated habitat – cut off from the lands surrounding town. (Note – isolated parcels within an urban setting can have high ecological value if they contain an important feature like a wetland and rare plant or border a creek).

The southern boundary of Nederland borders an area that is important for wildlife movement. The Magnolia Road/Winiger Ridge area is an important winter range for many wide-ranging animals – we know this from tracking radio-collared animals. The Arapaho Ranch, a basin of flat open land with abundant wetlands and grasslands, is an important spring through fall habitat. There is much movement between the areas. It is likely that at one time Barker Meadow through the Town of Nederland was important for habitat and movement. The development of the town along with the creation of Barker Reservoir took care of that. Now animal movement hugs the town’s southern border to make the Winiger Ridge to Arapaho Ranch movement. Annexation and more intense development to the south and southwest will further alter animal movement.

For wildlife, infill is better than annexation. Each expansion of the human footprint results in the loss of habitat. There is no winwin situation. To accommodate a growing Front Range population, human settlement will either have to expand out, get denser, or go up. This is the dilemma many towns face.

Dave Hallock
Earthwork Conservation Planning
Peak to Peak