Publish Date: 1/2/2009
Larimer County works on compromise plan for land along Big Thompson River
By Kathryn Dailey
Drake resident Dallas Maurer considers himself an avid fisherman of the Big Thompson River, which flows just across the street from his house.
Along the Big Thompson Canyon, from Loveland to Estes Park, Maurer says there are miles and miles of access for fishermen, which is one of the reasons he supports the sale of a piece of county-owned land in his neighborhood to a private owner to stop the loitering and other “abuses” by members of the public.
The 2.6-acre piece of property in question is one that has created some tension between neighbors and fishermen and is one of more than 100 pieces of land that Larimer County bought after the 1976 Big Thompson flood.
The county has sold five pieces of the property and is deciding whether to keep the others for public access.
To help appease both Drake residents and fishermen who want to retain access to the river, Larimer County hired a surveyor to identify 10-foot buffers on both banks of the river to be retained for fishing access, said Natural Resources Director Gary Buffington.
The remainder of the land would be put up for sale.
“We’re trying to use that model other places in the canyon,” he said.
The proposed plan likely will go before the Larimer County Parks Advisory Board for consideration this month, said board chairwoman Linda Knowlton.
It would then go to the Larimer County Board of Commissioners for final approval.
Maurer, who has only read about the potential plan in Parks Advisory Board minutes, said it should help satisfy all parties involved. “That should take care of all the trespassing and all the other issues that come in with the public,” he said.
Walt Graul, organizer of Friends of the Big Thompson, a coalition of people, organizations and businesses in support of retention of the county properties along the Big Thompson, said the plan may not work for all debated properties because group members want it kept not just for fishing access, but also to preserve riparian habitats.
“This can’t be a one solution for all properties,” he said.
Friends of the Big Thompson was formed in October to create a more consolidated voice and improve communication between proponents of retaining the properties, Graul said.
County staffers will continue to work with the Parks Advisory Board to evaluate the properties, Buffington said, adding that it takes time to make sure that the properties are dealt with in the right way the first time.
“We think this process is a good one,” he said.