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News Archive

June 8, 2016

Boulder County Parks & Open Space Director Ron Stewart to retire in September


Parks & Open Space Director Ron Stewart announces his retirement

Stewart leaves behind an inspiring legacy of land preservation spanning nearly 40 years of public service.

Boulder County,
Colo. (June 8, 2016)

– Boulder County
Parks
& Open Space Director Ron Stewart has announced his intentions to retire in
early September.

His decision comes after 39 years serving in various
capacities with Boulder County Government: five years as a Parks & Open
Space Advisory Committee member, 20 years as a County Commissioner, and 17
years as the Director of Parks & Open Space.

"Current
and future generations are indebted to Ron Stewart for the enduring legacy of
protected open space he helped envision and create,” said Board of County
Commissioners Chair, Elise Jones. “Our beautiful and beloved preserved lands
are a defining character of our county and a chief reason many find Boulder
County such an outstanding place to live and visit."

Over his long tenure of public service,
Stewart, 67, has been a leader in preserving open space and in negotiating
innovative land use policies in Boulder County. Under his leadership, more than
100,000 acres of land have been protected from future development in
perpetuity.

“I have enjoyed enormously my work with Boulder County, and I am grateful to the residents here for their support of
the county open space program,” said Stewart. “At a time when unbridled
development remains rampant across the country, it is comforting to know that
our work to protect significant land from development provides lasting benefit
to our generation and future generations.”

A strong advocate for open space most of
his adult life, Stewart first served in a volunteer capacity on the Parks &
Open Space Advisory Committee (a commissioner-appointed citizen-led advisory
group) from 1977-1982 before being elected as Boulder County Commissioner in 1984. He
was later appointed as Director of Parks & Open Space in 1999.

“We
are so grateful for Ron’s exemplary service and decades of work as a principal
steward of Boulder County’s open space program,” said County Commissioner Deb
Gardner. “He truly stands out as one of the most important individuals in the
preservation of Boulder County’s history for future generations.”

In addition to his leadership role in
setting aside land for conservation, agriculture, recreation, wildlife habitat,
and historical preservation, Stewart was the primary elected official
who negotiated a series of Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) that continue to
determine future growth patterns in Boulder County.

For taking the lead in creating the
Boulder County “Super IGA,” which established an enforceable long-range plan
between Boulder County and the cities and towns within the county, he received
the 2005 American Planning Association National Planning Award for
Distinguished Leadership for an Elected Official.

“It goes without saying that Ron’s
leadership and dedication to the long term rural preservation of Boulder County
will be sorely missed as the county continues to carry out the important work
he has championed for nearly forty years,” said County Commissioner Cindy
Domenico.

She added, “thanks to Ron’s enduring legacy, the Boulder County Open Space
program stands apart as the crown jewel in the reflection of this county’s
deeply-rooted culture for preserving history and natural spaces. Our open space
program is the only one like it in the country, and under Ron’s leadership it
has both defined and embodied the long standing values that we hold
dear in Boulder County.”

Stewart’s last official day with Boulder
County is expected to be Friday, September 9. A national search will be
conducted to fill the commissioner-appointed department head position.

--###--

Ron Stewart served as a
Boulder County Commissioner from 1985 to 2005, and served as chair of the board
for ten years during his tenure. Prior to that, he served as a
Colorado
State Senator from 1977-1984 and State Senate Minority Leader from 1983-1984.

Stewart
assumed the duties as Director of Parks & Open Space (POS) in 1999 to fill
the vacancy left by the passing of former POS director Carolyn Holmberg.

Notable
achievements during Stewart’s tenure as Open Space Director include:

  • Expansion of open space preservation
    from 63,600 acres in 2000 to 104,000 acres today.
  • Creation of partnerships with other
    local governments, and with state and federal funding programs to ensure a
    long-term collaboration in land preservation.
  • Increased emphasis on local food and
    organic food production on open space as well as continued support for conventional
    agriculture.
  • Construction of more than 50 miles of
    trails and other user facilities, including picnic shelters and fishing
    amenities.
  • Native prairie restoration on more than
    1,600 acres of marginal farmland.
  • Preservation of historically significant
    barns, mining mills, and other structures. Also, the opening of the
    Agricultural Heritage Center, the Nederland Mining Museum, and the Wall Street
    Assay Office.
  • Carefully-planned and -executed Forest Health
    and Wildfire Mitigation efforts that have helped create healthier forests on
    open space and seek to provide buffers between forests and residential areas to
    help deter residential wildfire activity.
  • Significant expansion of programs that
    utilize volunteers: volunteer efforts have soared from 5,000 hours in 2000 to
    more than 33,000 hours in 2014, now with nearly 2,000 volunteers helping
    annually.
  • Creation of a partnership program with
    local organizations and businesses to help with land stewardship.
  • Expansion of the Youth Corps, creation
    of the Junior Rangers program, and other programs for youth and kids.

Ron Stewart

Ron Stewart, Director
Boulder County Parks & Open Space