Hi all, The link below is our document submitted to the City of Boulder to allow slacklining in the city parks. The city is reviewing it – we’ll keep everyone updated. And a friendly reminder; while we are having conversations with the city about legalizing slacklining, the sport is not yet legalized. If you are…
Update on our meeting with the City of Boulder, May 6, 2015.
A group of slackliners met with a number of City of Boulder staff today. The slackers included CU students, old guys (me), and several representatives from Slackline Industries. City representatives included staff from Parks & Rec, Risk Management, Forestry, and Economic Vitality.
Overall, I think the meeting was extremely positive. The lead person from Parks & Rec is a climber and recreational slackliner, and is interested in adding slackining to the Boulder Parks activities.
Primary concerns come down to:
- Take care of the trees
- Risk Management / Liability
- Park usage / co-existing with other park patrons
There were concerns about people not slacklining responsibly; crossing sidewalks, using city and private trees, using playground structures for anchors, and of course, no tree protection. The forester has been in touch with contacts with other cities, and had some anecdotes about breaking smaller trees, bark damage, and other issues. I found it interesting that they keep good information and track 50,000 trees in the city.
We learned a few things about Boulder Parks. For organized activities, they ask groups to register with the park ahead of time. While we think that individual slackliners wouldn’t likely fall under that, if there were events such as Slacking for Trees, registering ahead of time would be good. It might help us to be aware of other groups who have registered ahead of time to use parks so we don’t interfere. In addition to City Ordinance 6-6-6 which addresses attaching things to trees, the forester said we should also be aware of City Ordinance 8-2-16, which discusses attaching devices to public property. The City Manager does have the ability to allow use without any change in policy or regulation; that may be the easiest path both for us and the city.
They were interested in an option of asking slackliners to register, using a permit system. This would allow a census of the group, as well as an ability to educate people at the time of registration. They asked about how the CU group educates new students, and they’re interested in how other cities have managed slackining. Tyler did an awesome job of explaining how the CU club educates members and the general public. Boulder does not have any other permit style system, so this would be breaking new ground.
Risk Management has a strong voice in the city, though with the great examples of Valmont Bike Park, Scott Carpenter Skate Park, it does not seem a real issue for us. We do need to be concerned with ‘Path of Travel’, where a slackline might interfere with other park users, or pose a danger to other users. The takeaway concerning this department is to develop rules and guidelines with other prak users in mind.
One strong take away for me was that they are interested in our ability to educate and self police. I think we can begin that right now, and work with our community so that we’re always slackining responsibly. Talk to people, and encourage them to join our Facebook group! We stressed to them our ability to communicate with the majority of slackliners in the area; we should continue to encourage people to join our BSA Facebook group, and post updates on our progress there.
Katie wrote up a proposed set of guidelines for slacking in Boulder:
- Only slackline in approved parks
- Only slackline on hard-barked trees greater than 12 inches in diameter (what trees are hard-barked?)
- Use proper tree protection
- Flag lines so they is visible from afar; especially important on longer lines
- Do not cross any rights of way, sidewalks, foot paths, bike path, etc.
- Don’t unreasonably interfere with other park users
- Inform nearby patrons of your slackine so they can avoid it
- Never leave a line unattended
- Practice Leave No Trace, clean up after yourself and others
- Educate the community about slacklining, its benefits, and how to do it properly and safely
- Be stewards of the slackline community and the greater Boulder community
Be active on our Facebook pages: once we have guidelines posted on the Facebook page, we can share the pages with the city. This will be the forum for disseminating information to the community. The guidelines should be pinned to the top of the Facebook group, so everyone sees them regularly.
We proposed a number of options, and more or less came down to identify three or so parks where slacklining would be regularly be okay. This is a first step, and if the community respects the rules in approved locations, we are hoping for more areas for regular use. Options we discussed included:
- North Boulder Park
- Howard Hueston Park
- Martin Park
- Bear Creek Park.
We should probably ask for permission for shorter lines in other parks, such as Scott Carpenter. The city indicated we should select 6-8 locations in order of priority, with the hope that they approve three.
We (meaning me) offered to help raise funds to pay for signs to be posted in the parks about how to slackline responsibly. I think all the slackers agreed we’d like to see something like the signs from Jackson, WY. Slackline Industries may be interested in helping with a more formal slackline park with poles in Valmont Park, similar to what they have done in other cities. Signs would be simple, listing the guidelines to follow, and possibly a map of the approved area. We also discussed having a box for tree protection or brochures. One idea would be to list an email or contact info where a user can call and receive free tree protection.
We offered to help educate people and groups, including the city, police officers and anyone else who has a stack in the process.
We’re going to pull together the following information for the city:
- Maps that identify parks, and the trees in the parks, where we propose to slackline
- Copy of the CU Slacklining Policy
- Links to our Facebook pages
- They asked what percentage of local slackers are CU students
- Rules and/or contacts with other cities
The city staff will get together and discuss what needs to occur. This seemed to be a ‘months’ time frame, not ‘years’. I think once we deliver the requested packet of information to the city, we ask them for a time frame when we can follow up with a next meeting.
IMPORTANT: We’re working as fast as possible to create a solution for Boulder slackliners and the City seems agreeable to taking action. Please be mindful in this time to police yourselves and others by not setting up illegally and informing others if you see someone rigging in an inappropriate place. A big reason they are willing to help us is that we convinced them we could reach the whole community and that they will police themselves regarding etiquette. We need to prove this so we can progress.
Huge thanks to all who attended! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info, or if you want to get involved.
My thoughts for the meeting:
- Focus on relaxing the tree rules as a primary goal, with an emphasis on common sense rules (the fewer the better), such as:
- Always use tree ware
- Choose appropriate trees
- Lines should never cross sidewalks
- Lines should never be unattended
- Avoid crowded parks
- Talk about the benefits of slacklining
- Get outside! Boulder Parks and Rec’s master plan talks a lot about how to engage more people with the outdoors, and are interested in improving our community’s fitness. Slacklining is an approachable sport that requires minimal equipment. It fits in well with Boulder’s strong climbing, biking, hiking and other outdoor activities
- Discuss what Tyler’s been able to accomplish with CU. That CU allows slacklining should be a big benefit.
- If the city is concerned about risk, I think strong parallels can be made around other very acceptable sports – the Valmont bike park, the skate park, kayaking Boulder Creek, climbing/bouldering and other sports. Slacklining doesn’t seem to me to carry any additional risk or liability to the city (Katie – maybe weigh in on the legal side?).
- Invite them out for a demo on campus! Let’s teach them to slack.
- Do talk about the opportunity for poles at a park, but that should not be the primary goal. I think that would be too limiting for the community if we only had one place to go.
- Economic affect
- Slackline Industries has been in the Boulder / Louisville area for x (Jamie?) years, employs local people, sponsors competitions such as the Go Pro Games (Vail) and X Games, and has built and supported slackline parks across the US. The owners live in Boulder.
- The Boulder Adventure Lodge has a dedicated ‘slack park’ to help attract athletes who stay in the area.
Slacking for Trees – an annual event on the CU campus that raises funds to plant trees
- Slackers from all over the world visit Boulder, and our slackers travel widely. Great goodwill for our communities.
- Slacktopia Event in April at the Spot Climbing Gym in Boulder – over 250 people attended a recent event focused on slacklining.
From the general slacklining community, I think this group could help coordinate a public relations campaign around slacking in Boulder. The Daily Camera has written a number of articles in the past, and if we are successful in opening up access, we could offer up services to the community in general, such as:
- Provide free tree protection. Tim Ross (I think), was able to get a slackline ordinance cleared through his city, and one of the things they did was make tree protection out of carpet scraps and give them out.
- Distribute Slackline.us flyers to the slackline community, parks officials, police. They’ve created some great materials.
Communicate which trees to use. Teach how to properly use treeware.
- Encourage everyone to stay positive and respectful. I think it’s been pretty good in Boulder, however I’ve seen some attitudes in some postings that would not help out the cause.
- Encourage good citizenship – pick up our trash, and everyone else’s. Educate other slackers we see that aren’t doing it right.
Materials for the meeting:
- I’m a fan of keeping the handouts short; if they want more, we can follow up later. I would say we include:
http://slackline.us/publications/ (look at the photo from Jackson, WY in the tweets; I think they have the BEST rules).
I think all of those are awesome, and would get us going.
- Maybe (just maybe) a sample regulation or law from another city.
I have notes from some of Tyler’s emails, and a summary of many articles, news, and other info on a website that Justin and I maintain on this site.
Hi everyone. I’d like to give you an update on my meeting with the CU grounds people last week:
First, I will explain to you the current policy as it stands and the current procedure required to reserve approved slacklining locations on campus. Second, I will explain to you the recent and ongoing changes to the policy. And third, I will explain to you what policy changes I am advocating for in our more liberal policy which will be implemented next year.
The current policy and procedure for reserving approved slackline locations:
1. All slacklining on campus must follow the guidelines illustrated in the CUUF policy accessible here: http://www.colorado.edu/po…/campus-use-university-facilities.
2. Locations for longlining (any line >50 ft. as stated in the CUUF policy) include Varsity Lake (Hale), Norlin Quad (furthest East side) and Sewall Field (next to the Rec Center). These locations are currently the only approved longlining locations on the UCB campus.
3. To longline, one must submit to me their requested locations and times 10+ days in advance so a group signer can submit an event management form (EMF) for approval by the eight departments on campus that handle our slacklining field requests. If/when approved, the group may longline using designated trees in the location only for the time block requested.
Recent and ongoing changes to the slackline policy:
1. Only the signer(s) of the group may schedule fields.
2. The field scheduling process requires at least a 10 day grace period to allow each department head sufficient time to approve each location.
3. Duane Lawn has never been approved for longlining and will not be approved for various reasons brought up by CU grounds and administration. Some of the concerns include academic (outdoor) class conflicts, traffic and weakness of trees.
New policy changes which I hope to implement in the next CUUF policy (I will be intentionally vague in this section as details are still being talked about):
1. Increased ‘short-line’ length.
2. Shortened reservation request grace period.
3. Longer longlines (the current limit is 250 ft.).
4. More field locations.
5. Ongoing research on the actual effects of slacklining on trees.
Please keep in mind the current policy and follow it to the best of your ability. Each rule that is broken brings down the credibility of our organization and the trust we have built with UCB and affiliates over the years.
If you have questions, I am willing to answer them in the comments section below.
Here’s an update to Slacklining in Boulder. I’ve been gathering information and identifying contacts at the city.
I have a contact, through the Boy Scout Troop I volunteer for, that works for Boulder Mountain Parks. We were on a service project, and I asked him about slacklining, and the current state of legal / not legal in Boulder. He put me in contact with someone from the Forestry department. From there, the Assistant City Forester put me in touch with Boulder Risk Management as well as Parks & Rec. We’ve traded some emails, and they are willing to meet with some of us to discuss slacklining in Boulder.
For now, Tyler Shalvarjian and Heather Larsen are interested in joining me. I don’t think we should overwhelm them with people on the first meeting, but I would like to make sure I have all the points of view from the community in place. I’m hoping to set up a meeting for later this month.
Have any others recently worked with the city? If so, could you send me details about who you contacted, and what the result were? I’d like to make sure we’re consistent in our message to the city.
I sent them info from Slackline.us (see links in prior post). It contains a proposed city ordinance – though that may not be required. I sent them this email:
Earlier this summer, Tyler (included on this email) was issued a ticket from the Boulder Police for slacklining in Martin Park. We understand that the statute behind the ticket was Boulder Municipal Code 6-6-6, which prohibits attaching anything to trees in the city. As a side note, the slackliners are diligent about using ‘tree protection’ when they put their lines up.
Tyler is an active member of the CU Slacklining club, and I’ve been involved in slacklining for close to 30 years, though it’s my kids now who are the real slackliners. Between us, we’re connect to a large number of slackliners in Boulder, and we’d like to find a way to work with the city to make slacklining safe and legal.
I’m open to your ideas and thoughts as well – please contact me at ken at kgwagers dot com anytime.
Below is a series of links as a starting point for a conversation with Boulder officials.
#1 – Always be respectful, even if you think officials are wrong.
#2 – Always use tree protection; tree damage will trump any thing else we can do.
#3 – Keep lines safe & monitored.
Flyers to use / hand out! Visit Slackline.us for more info.
History of Slacklining
Boulder / Denver Other News Articles
Boulder Parks & Recs
Articles & other related links
State and National Parks
The first link below is a research study by a student in Jackson, Wyoming. This paper includes very good information, seems well researched, and addresses safety, tree damage and load, liability and other issues. It resulted in reasonable rules for Jackson parks. Quote from the paper from Jackson Certified Arborist Todd Graus: “Movement of the tree from slacklining merely mimics lateral forces that are produced by wind everyday”.
A few colleges with clubs
University of Colorado (Closed group – request membership)
University of Puget Sound
Cal Poly Pomona
University of California – Berkley
University of Minnesota
West Virginia University
Humboldt State University
San Jose State
Rochester Institute of Technology
Where Slacklining is clearly legal (links below)
University of Colorado
Colorado School of Mines
University of Puget Sound
Chelan County, WA
Huntington State Park, UT
San Luis Obisbo, CA
San Diego, CA
Yosemite National Park
Where Slacklining is probably not legal (links below)
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
University of Nevada – Reno
Isle Vista, CA
Policies / Regulations