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Billings Open Space Cultural Resource Survey Project
Billings Open Space

Billings Open Space Cultural Resource Survey Project

Boulder County was awarded a grant from History Colorado to complete an intensive-level cultural resource survey on the Billings Open Space property located west of Lyons.


On March 1, 2021, History Colorado awarded Boulder County a $22,150 grant to complete an intensive-level cultural resource survey on the 326-acre Billings Open Space property located along Longmont Dam Road (County Road 80) west of Lyons. Boulder County contributed a $2,000 cash match. The goal is to complete an intensive-level cultural resource survey to obtain a complete and up-to-date inventory of cultural resources on the property in order to make informed cultural resource management decisions regarding any future land use that may have the potential to impact the cultural resources on the property.

Cultural Resource Survey Fieldwork

The Billings Open Space cultural resource survey fieldwork was conducted by a team of three archaeologists between October 13-26, 2021. No previous cultural resource surveys have been conducted within the survey area. The systematic pedestrian inventory by the three archaeologists was conducted to provide as much coverage as possible given the large number of steep slopes in the project area. The three archaeologists walked systematic parallel transects across the entire survey area with less than 25% slope, completed sample surveys in areas with slopes ranging from 25-39%, and excluding slopes over 39% due to safety concerns. The spacing between individual transects was 50 ft (15 m). GPS track logs were maintained for the survey transects.

During fieldwork all historic and Indigenous cultural resources that are 50 years old or older and that are visible on the surface or in subsurface exposures were documented according to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Identification and Evaluation and History Colorado’s Cultural Resource Survey Manual.

Project Timeline

  • Project close out – March 2022
  • Final survey report, site forms, and GIS information submitted to History Colorado – late February or early March 2022
  • History Colorado review completed – mid-February
  • Draft survey report, site forms, and GIS information submitted to History Colorado – Jan. 4, 2022
  • Fieldwork completed – October 2021
  • History Colorado and Centennial Archaeology project kick off meeting – May 20, 2021
  • History Colorado executed grant contract and notice to proceed – April 26, 2021
  • Centennial Archaeology awarded project – April 22, 2021
  • Request for Proposals (RFPs) released to hire archaeology consultant – April 8, 2021
  • History Colorado grant award notification – March 1, 2021

Billings Open Space Short History

Boulder County is the ancestral homeland to Indigenous people that include, but are not limited to, the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Ute, Comanche, and Sioux. Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have lived in Colorado with their own unique language, history, beliefs, culture, relations, and ways.

Between the 1860s and early 1880s, Indigenous people were forcibly removed from eastern Colorado and the central mountains by the United States Federal government military entering onto Indigenous lands granted to them in the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. As a result of the broken treaties, Indigenous people were removed from their homelands to unfamiliar lands and their language, history, beliefs, and culture suppressed. These harmful and traumatic measures set the ground work for increased Euro-American settlement on Indigenous homelands and the distribution of Indigenous land through the federal government system of various land settlement acts.

Around 1880, the Billings brothers George, Ferdinand, Norton, and Jabe arrived by covered wagons from South Dakota to the Lyons area. The brothers, their wives, and children prospered in the area with their descendants remaining there today. Boulder County acquired the property in a series of acquisitions from Claire and Margaret Billings between 2000-2007. Claire and Margaret acquired the property in 1965 from Claire’s parents, William and Eugenia Billings, who owned portions of the property since the early 1940s. The property was used for primarily for livestock grazing.

  • Road on Billings Open Space
  • Old telephone found on Billings Open Space
  • View from Billings Open Space
  • Old structure on Billings Open Space

Cultural Resources

What are cultural resources? Cultural resources are an aspect of a cultural system that is valued by or significantly representative of a culture that contains significant information about a culture. A cultural resource may be a tangible entity or a cultural practice. Tangible cultural resources are categorized as districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects. Archeological resources, cultural landscapes, and ethnographic resources can also be considered cultural resources.

Why conduct a cultural resource survey? As good stewards of its cultural resources, Boulder County considers potential adverse effects to cultural resources prior to ground disturbance activities. Forest thinning activities are expected to occur at Billings Open Space in 2022-2023. Crews will use mechanical tree harvesting equipment, trucks, and chippers to complete forest thinning. Boulder County, and its contractor, Centennial Archaeology, identified and documented the cultural resources on the Billings Open Space through a cultural resource survey in advance of the forest thinning project in order to make informed management decisions prior to the start of the forest thinning project to protect significant cultural resources from damage or destruction.

What is a Cultural Resource Survey? A cultural resource survey is a project that is a combination of fieldwork and post fieldwork reporting to identify and evaluate all cultural resources over 50 years in a specific project area like Billings Open Space.

Project Funding

The project is financed in part with federal funds from the National Historic Preservation Act, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior for History Colorado. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of the Interior or History Colorado, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior or History Colorado.

This program received federal funds from the National Park Service. Regulations of the U.S. Department of the Interior strictly prohibit unlawful discrimination in departmental federally-assisted programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, age or handicap. Any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility operated by a recipient of federal assistance should write to: Director, Equal Opportunity Program, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20240.

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