When I recently read an OOTS (Out on the Street) post at Wildlife Garden, I knew I wanted to contribute to this fun meme hosted by VP at Veg Plotting. Since I'm still in Boulder, I decided to tell the story of the Boulder Greenways Program.
While not strictly on the street, the program has created an alternative set of paths along the major creeks in the city. Here's what the city website says:
The Greenways Program seeks to coordinate and integrate as appropriate the following management objectives:
- Riparian, floodplain and wetland protection and restoration;
- Water quality enhancement;
- Storm Drainage;
- Alternative transportation routes for pedestrians and bicyclists;
- Protection of cultural resources.
Having been in Boulder for more than a month now, I've found that it's often faster to take my bike somewhere than to take the car. Underpasses and a few bridges allow me to avoid traffic lights almost completely. Yet I can get off the path and on a city street at each intersection.
And of course it's more pleasant to walk or bike along a path like this than to be on the street with traffic. You can enjoy the morning sun on the reservoir.
See how the grasses catch the light.
Then there's the wildlife. On a recent Saturday I stepped out my front door and started walking. I was on the greenway within 5 minutes, and soon after saw this member of a happy prarie dog colonie:
This little bunny in the grass along the path.
This dragonfly in the rushes next to the creek.
Birds were chirping and tweeting (yes, birds still tweet) and I even managed to catch two who were enjoying the thistle seeds.
While I personally think there is too much lawn around the houses and office buildings that line the greenway, some do make an effort. Here's an office building with coneflower, rudbeckia, and a butterfly bush.
And here's a real butterfly garden planted by a youth group right next to the greenway.
I know most towns and cities have concerns about too much traffic and flooding, and making room for wildlife in the middle of town is usually not high on the list. But Boulder's approach shows clearly how much you can integrate a town with nature, so you can be out on the street, yet surrounded by wildlife habitat.