During the routine update of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, a group called the Boulder Rights of Nature (BRON) began to lobby for changes to the Environmental Resources Element (ERE). The group believes that all of nature has inalienable rights, just as human beings do. This includes all animals of course, but goes beyond to include life forms such as algae and even amoebas. The group asserts that corporations exploit nature as property due to the inadequacy of current laws. BRON’s goal is to enact an ordinance in all communities that recognizes the rights of nature and punishes violators.
The desire for inclusion on the part of County staff and the Planning Commission led to BRON’s involvement on the update to the ERE which has already been in consideration for over a year. A working group consisting of two BRON representatives (one of which is the president of the Boulder Audubon Society) and two individuals who do not share BRON’s views, the executive director of the Farmers Alliance for Integrated Resources and a member of the Boulder Area Trails Coalition, plus County staff was convened to reach consensus on ERE language. Unfortunately this working group was unable to reach any agreement and the decision on approving or amending the ERE fell back to the Planning Commission.
On June 18 the Planning Commission will vote to approve the ERE, having taken public comments last month. The Commission voted to add language intended to placate BRON, which reads, “Acknowledging our responsibility to ensure that naturally occurring ecosystems and their native species populations continue to exist and flourish in Boulder County, Boulder County will develop conservation and recovery plans for priority species of special concern.”
Assuming the Planning Commission approves the more conventional language included in the current draft, BRON’s next move will be to lobby the County Commissioners when they review the ERE.
The current language of the ERE is hardly “conservative” in that it lists 180 species 150 plants and trees of special concern, meaning that future development that could harm any of items on the list might be subject to special mitigation measures. More information about the ERE is available here: http://www.bouldercounty.org/property/build/pages/bccpupdate.aspx.
To learn about BRON, visit the group’s website: http://boulderrightsofnature.org.