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Envisioning the Future of the Big Thompson River

If you live in Northern Colorado, you no doubt appreciate the beauty, the utility, and occasional destructiveness of the Big Thompson River.

You now have an opportunity to help determine the River’s future.

The Big Thompson Watershed Coalition, which I chaired for two years, is seeking your opinion about possible projects to improve river health.  I’m inviting you to fill out an online questionnaire that will guide the coalition in preparing a River Envisioning Plan for the Big Thompson River between the Big Thompson Canyon mouth and the I-25.

The questionnaire features an interactive map that allows you to pinpoint areas along the river or associated water systems where you have project suggestions.  For example, I placed a pin on the map where Namaqua Road crosses the river, and suggested the following project:

This newly acquired city-owned property (Parks and Recreation Department) is the site of Mariano Medina’s historic 1858 stage stop and trading post known as Mariano’s Crossing.  How about recreating the historic structures (bridge, trading post, barns, tavern, etc.) as a “frontier village” concept, a living history museum like Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia?  Might not this become a destination tourism site for Loveland?  A site for hosting historical reenactments and other events?

Now you can have a go.  Get creative, and add your ideas for the River’s future.

The Coalition is especially interested in projects that benefit multiple stakeholders.  For example, an improvement that helps a ditch company rebuild its diversion structure while simultaneously improving trout habitat. Such a project has already been completed in the river reach between Rossom and Wilson Drives using federal flood recovery funds.

Keep in mind that any proposed project must respect riverfront property owners and water rights, and will need widespread community support to attract grant funds.

The Big Thompson River Envisioning Project is similar to other Colorado stream management planning efforts supported by the Colorado Water Plan, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the South Platte Basin Roundtable.

The deadline for filling out the questionnaire is Friday, October 9, so grab a computer and “git ‘er done.”  (and by the way, you can fill out the questionnaire twice, once from the point of view you as an individual community member, and again, if you wish, as a representative of your organization’s point of view.)


David Jessup, Sylvan Dale Ranch