Preserving the Natural Landscape

Wildflowers on a hillside

Wildflowers bloom along the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail near NCAR’s Mesa Lab in this foggy scene.

UCAR Digital Image Library #D101770

Perhaps because they had so much to protect, Boulder citizens were at the vanguard of the burgeoning environmental movement. A system of mountain parks was already in place, dating back to 1898, and public concern over future development of the city's mountain backdrop was high. Although NCAR could theoretically have sought water from other sources, an amendment to the blue line regulation was put to the vote in January of 1961. NCAR officials pledged that the area would remain a natural preserve and that the building would be environmentally sensitive. A coalition of citizens' groups ranging from conservationists to the Chamber of Commerce and League of Women Voters all backed the amendment, which passed by a margin of more than three and a half to one. The consensus: NCAR's presence would be an asset to the city and would harmonize with and protect the natural beauty of the Mesa. Citizens were also concerned about public access to the site, something NCAR and the National Science Foundation guaranteed. 



View more from the NCAR Archives Digital Collections
Memo, Walter Orr Roberts to Files detailing a phone conversation with Don Daily about water issues at the NCAR site. Letter: Alan T. Waterman, Director of the NSF, to Dr. Henry Houghton expressing the NSF's intention to leave land undeveloped at the Table Mountain site. Walter Orr Roberts to Fred W. Roecker stressing the need to implement effective measures for protecting the Table Mountain site from citizens driving up the mesa. Memo from Robert J. Low re: restricting automobile access to the public to service roads and mesa top. Draft of letter from Walter Orr Roberts to Boulder City Manager Robert Turner reaffirming NCAR's commitment to providing public access to the Skunk Creek, Bear Creek and Mesa Trails. Memo from Robert J. Low clarifying that restricting access during the construction phase means restricting vehicular access only.