News Flash

Arapahoe County News

Posted on: June 22, 2021

Arapahoe County Open Spaces Master Plan now available

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Seeks to support County assets and create a sustainable future for program 

The Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners has formally approved the updated Open Spaces Master Plan, which outlines priorities for the program for the next decade and beyond. This is the culmination of a yearlong process of extensive community input, research, and program analysis, and the County looks forward to putting the plan into action in the coming years.

Arapahoe County Open Spaces owns and maintains 15 parks and open spaces across the County, spanning more than 5,000 acres, 4 trailheads, and 20-plus miles of trails. Through the Shareback and Grants program, Open Spaces also funds local parks, trails and open space projects across the 13 municipalities, towns and special districts that make up the County.

The Open Spaces Master Plan is designed to:

  • Cover the County’s Open Spaces operations for the next 10 years
  • Identify and define opportunities for conserving and enhancing natural lands, wildlife habitats and water resources
  • Close the gaps in the County’s outdoor recreation network via an acquisition and development strategy
  • Set County priorities for educational programming and the stewardship of existing resources
  • Provide recommendations for updating the County’s land use code and any related regulations
  • Encourage County residents and visitors to explore the County’s trails, parks, open spaces and historical sites
  • Ensure a sustainable future for the Open Spaces program

The County’s Open Space Master plan does not govern the cities, towns and special districts who have their own master plans but directs the Open Spaces Department to continue its collaboration with its many partners and stakeholders to improve recreational opportunities throughout the County.

“Our Open Spaces programs and assets are truly a jewel throughout the County, so it’s really exciting to see this Plan come to fruition,” said Arapahoe County Board Chair Nancy Jackson during the public meeting at which the Board unanimously approved the Plan.

The Board included the following letter with the final version of the Master Plan:

At Arapahoe County, our mission is to enhance your quality of life through exceptional delivery of services and efficient use of public funds. We can think of no program more critical to this mission than Open Spaces.

Imagine life without local trails to walk on, or parks and playgrounds to play in. Imagine an earth without birds and wildlife, streams, or natural places. Even if you don’t use them, it’s hard not to appreciate the inherent value of these precious natural resources. 

Arapahoe County Open Spaces works hard to protect and maintain these places. The program has seen great results since its inception in 2003, with the passing of the voter-approved, quarter-cent Open Space Sales and Use TaxSince then, the County and our partners have built more than 70 miles of trails, supported more than 168 park and trailhead projects, and conserved more than 31,000 acres of open space across Arapahoe County. 

In spring 2020, Open Spaces began a process to update its decade-old master plan. The program has accomplished a great deal since 2010, but now it was time to reexamine priorities and set a future course. This work is especially timely given the County’s rapid population growth and development; we must plan carefully for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

To that end, we are pleased to present the 2021 Open Spaces Master Plan. This document serves as a blueprint for the program’s future, and is based on extensive research, community input, and feedback from partners, stakeholders, a planning committee, and a citizen advisory board. 

The plan outlines comprehensive policy and program recommendations. It also clarifies project priorities for the next decade and beyond, many of which are the direct result of input received through the public engagement process, including surveys, public meetings, interviews, and roundtable discussions. 

We can’t thank you enough for your collaboration, input, and interest in protecting and preserving our local parks, trails, and open spaces for generations to come. 

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