Big Thompson River update Nov.

November 18, 2011

November 2011 update:  Larimer County has addressed 11 of the 12 properties that Friends of the Big Thompson (CWF is a member) recommended originally in 2005.  That recommendation was that the County retain these properties for fishing and other public access on the Big T River and North Fork of the Big T.  Although some process steps remain concerning the 11 properties, the County (its Parks Board) has committed to retain public access on each of the 11.  The 12th property likely will be addressed in early 2012.  It is a small pull-off on the North Fork.  We will be surprised if the County does not keep public access on this property.   

This outcome is the end product of much effort by concerned anglers - individuals and Friends of the Big Thompson (founded by Walt Graul, who is CWF's Co-Chair of the Issues Committee).  We look forward to closure of this process during 2012.  Stay tuned as "it is not over til it is over."


 October 2011 update: Below is the letter just written and sent to Larimer County officials by Walt Graul on behalf of Friends of the Big Thompson, which includes CWF.  Walt is also Co-Chair of the CWF Issues Committee. The public input phase for these 2 areas ends on November 8.  Please provide written input to the County.    Area 3 is on the western edge of Loveland and Area 17 is in the catch and release upper section of the River.  These 2 areas also represent close to the end of the process where the 12 areas the Friends of the Big T have recommended for retention.  Friends has been successful in 9, and so we need to engage in this final push. 

To: Gary Buffington and Members of the Larimer County Parks Advisory Board

From: Walt Graul on behalf of FRIENDS OF THE BIG THOMPSON RIVER

Ref: Input on Big Thompson parcels 3 and 17

 For the benefit of the new Board members FRIENDS OF THE BIG THOMPSON RIVER  includes angling businesses in Loveland, Ft. Collins, and Berthoud; The Loveland Fishing Club (80+ members), Rocky Mountain Flycasters ( the local TU chapter with about 850 members) and The Colorado Wildlife Federation( few thousand members); and many individual members (mostly from the Front Range ).

Before getting into our detailed comments, we would first like to express our appreciation for the progress that has been made relative to the County staff and the Parks Advisory Board addressing the areas that have been recommended for retention for the benefit of the angling public. In 2005 we supported the retention of angling access on 12 areas – about half of the areas under consideration for disposal. When action is taken on areas 3 and 17, the only area left for action on the list of 12 is a day use area on the North Fork - and the latter area is understandably a lower priority than the others from an angling viewpoint.  Furthermore, it is greatly appreciated that regarding the actions to-date, fishing access has been retained appropriately for the angling public. This reflects highly on the credibility of the County staff and Board members associated with this process.

AREA 3 comments: At the last Board Meeting there was discussion of the limited parking opportunities adjacent to Area 3 – created by the ‘no parking’ signs currently in place. However, it should be noted that even with the parking restrictions anglers find a way to park elsewhere and fish the area. In fact, some of us visited the area last Thursday and there was a gentleman fishing - during a weekday in October.  So, although parking is limited, it should not be a reason to lose the angling opportunity that clearly exists now and has existed previously.  With the close proximity to Loveland, this fishing opportunity will only become even more valuable in the future.

Concern was also expressed about potential problems with people tubing. We appreciate this issue and understand that it might require specific attention, but again it is not a reason to eliminate fishing.

We did note that the Larimer County sign on the property is confusing. Specifically, it says “riverbottom and banks are private property…” Obviously this does not apply to the bank that is owned by the County. So, this needs some clarification. Also, the fence along the bank on County property does not seem to serve any purpose and could be removed to help improve access. We do agree with Mr. Jessup’s suggestion that the property does need to be clearly marked and signed to avoid any trespass problems.

It might also be of interest to note that the County land here is not grazed and represents healthy riparian habitat. This is not a focus of our angling access interest, but might well be of interest to the County Open Lands Board, since the latter program’s master plan classifies riparian habitat along the Big Thompson River as a “priority area” with an objective of “continued protection efforts”.

AREA 17 COMMENTS: From an overview perspective the area 17 parcels are of high value for fishing, since they are in the ‘catch and release’ upper section of a wild trout river on the Front Range. This section is heavily fished. In fact, on most good days, especially on weekends, all the available pull off parking sites are occupied by anglers. As we have mentioned previously, what helps create the high angling use of this whole river system is the presence of multiple, small parking sites all along the river. In this vein, it is important that the County retain the fishing access and parking spot on the Mangnall parcel if it is sold as a building site. Certainly, the area above the river bluff could be sold under these conditions with no loss of angling opportunity.

Fishing access on the other parcels in Area 17 should likewise be retained and well-marked. Additionally, access along the 2-track on the south side of the river should be clarified? Specifically, where the 2-track leaves the highway there are ‘private property ‘signs?

Thanks for the opportunity to provide input on this issue that is of high interest to many of your constituents


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