Following four months of public input collection, the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources (LCDNR) has released a community feedback report and its 2022 plans for managing high visitation and both motorized and non-motorized recreation use at Horsetooth Reservoir.
Approximately 2,800 individuals visited the engagement platform and contributed valuable feedback on potential strategies for visitor management, the separation of recreation use, future capital plans, and potential long-range considerations, such as timed entry or reservation systems.
Survey results (based on 478 survey respondents) showed 89% of respondents value Horsetooth Reservoir for its recreation access close to home, 63% for its natural environment. The top three community concerns included inadequate parking (53%), crowds (50%), and being denied access because parking is full (43%). Most respondents (74%) agreed that the separation of recreational uses is a good first step in managing safety risks on the north side of the reservoir.
Half of all respondents (50%) believed additional or improved parking was the top solution, while separation of recreational use or “zone use” (40%), and continued emphasis on targeted public messaging regarding water safety (40%) were important solutions.
The community was aligned in its opposition to timed entry or a future reservation system at the reservoir with 67% opposed, 34% in favor.
In response to 2021 community feedback, LCDNR is moving forward with the following actions to proactively manage visitors at Horsetooth Reservoir in 2022.
- Continue to not require a reservation or a timed entry system in the near term.
- Satanka Bay cove will remain open as a mixed recreation-use zone (both motorized and non-motorized boats) during the low recreation season (September to May).
- Satanka Bay cove will convert to a non-motorized use zone (paddle craft only) during the high recreation season (late May-early Sept).
- Additional monitoring of boat launch and Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) boat inspections, staffing, visitor use, and infrastructure/parking assessments will begin in 2022.
- Heightened education for paddle craft safety will occur, in part with the help of paddler volunteers to expand safety outreach on the water.
- All other coves, excluding Satanka Bay, at Horsetooth Reservoir will remain open to motorized boat and paddle craft use.
See the full community feedback report and summarized 2022 actions for managing visitors at Horsetooth Reservoir at the Horsetooth Reservoir Forum engagement webpage. A discussion forum has also been opened on the page for community members to submit questions or feedback. LCDNR will host a community Q & A session in late January to answer questions regarding the 2022 season at Horsetooth Reservoir.
Natural Resources manages Larimer County’s great outdoor places, including magnificent open spaces and water-based recreation areas, and fosters responsible land stewardship through weed management and healthy forest practices. To learn more, visit www.larimer.org/naturalresources.