Big Thompson River Update

June 16, 2011

 Big Thompson Update:

Below is the letter from Walt Graul, Founder of the Friends of the Big Thompson, to the Larimer County Parks Advisory Board on June 15, 2011.  CWF is a member of the Friends.  Walt also is Co-Chair of the CWF Issues Committee. The latest meeting was held on June 14.   ----


June 15, 2011

To: Parks Advisory Board Members

From: Walt Graul (on behalf of Friends of the Big Thompson River)

 Having attended your Board meeting on June 14, 2011 I would like to provide additional input, since I understand you will be taking such public input for 60 days. I first want to again thank everyone on behalf of FRIENDS for the staff recommendations and the Board actions thus far regarding the north side of Narrows Park, Indian Village, parcel 12b, and the east parcel of 20.

 Based upon some of the landowner input, we are especially concerned about the east parcel of 20. The perception conveyed by the landowner that there is lots of public access on the North Fork is misleading. The reality is there are 3 other small public pull offs with very limited river access on the North Fork. Also, there is the old DOW fish hatchery that has a small stretch of river. The east parcel of area 20 is by far the largest piece on the North Fork owned by Larimer County and certainly its’ most valuable asset on the North Fork in terms of fishery potential. This is the very reason the private portion of this stretch was recently leased by a private fishing club – they control the north half of the river adjacent to the Larimer County parcel in question. Members pay a daily rod fee to fish this in conjunction with the river stretch immediately downstream of the County land. Certainly the lease income is a strong motive for the landowner to want to keep the public out and have the County land revert to private land status. We understand the financial incentive, but think supporting this private benefit would certainly not represent the current and future public interests that you represent.

Limited parking was another issue that was raised. The large parking area near the county property has been used as a pull off for as long as we   know, but now suddenly may not be available to anglers, since it is private land. Be that as it may, anglers will certainly be willing to walk from other parking spots, including the piece owned by the county which is only about one-quarter mile upstream.

Another issue   raised was the concern that the County will not adequately manage the public use on the property. We understand this concern and think some new, clear signing showing boundaries, etc will really help address this problem.

Finally, a concern was expressed that if the public fishes the stretch in question, the quality of the fishery will decline significantly. We also understand this concern, but respectfully point out that that issue is not the county’s responsibility. Rather, it is the responsibility of the Colorado Division of Wildlife (the new Parks and Wildlife Division as of July 1). The county needs to not be distracted by the fishery quality issue, but rather keep its’ focus upon the land ownership issue at hand.

In conclusion, we again urge the county to retain public angling access to the east parcel of area 20 and urge the adoption of recommendations made on June 14 by staff for Narrows, parcel 12b, and 20.  

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