|Bouteloua dactyloides staminate spikelet (from another location)|
One of the first things I noticed here in Colorado is the prevalence of land called "Open Spaces". These Open Spaces are preserved land that is not developed, although they may be adjacent to the usual parks and other recreational locations.
According to the department that manages these areas in the city of Boulder:
The open space lands teem with native plants and wildlife and are home to threatened and endangered species. They serve as a buffer between Boulder and nearby development. They sustain agriculture uses and add untold benefits to the natural environment - clean air, water, and earth. The lands shape the urban mosaic of the Boulder Valley and provide residents with passive recreation opportunities. Trails are used by walkers, hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, dog walkers and other passive recreational uses.
I visited one of these Open Spaces in nearby Broomfield, which has kept their city beautiful by preserving large tracts of land. In the Open Space that I visited there, walking paths crisscrossed the place, and people were jogging, walking their dogs, and generally just enjoying nature. I did some botanizing one morning, and found many native grasses, although they were outnumbered by the usual naturalized exotics that have become ubiquitous wherever humanity has taken hold.
|Part of an Open Space in Broomfield, CO|
One of the most notable denizens of the area was Bromus inermis, which existed in large clusters and is commonly called Smooth Brome. You can identify it not only by the recognizable spikelets and habit, but by a W crimp in the middle of the leaves. This species is an introduced forage grass, but it has become somewhat invasive in many places.
|Bouteloua dactyloides (staminate spikelet)|
|Phalaris arundinacea surrounds a lone cattail (Typha sp)|
As noted above, some of the advantages include:
- They serve as home to threatened and endangered species.
- They serve as a buffer between a city and nearby development.
- They sustain agriculture uses and add untold benefits to the natural environment - clean air, water, and earth.
- The lands shape the urban mosaic and provide residents with passive recreation opportunities. Trails are used by walkers, hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, dog walkers and other passive recreational uses.
In addition, I believe Open Spaces give an airy and open vibe to a city, provide habitats for a large variety of plants and animals, and serve as a shining example of how nature and people can coexist together.
Kudos to the city of Broomfield, Boulder, and all the other enlightened communities in Colorado that have the foresight and the perseverance to protect the natural beauty of the land!