Seeking Public Input: Horsetooth Mountain Management Plan Update

Larimer County Department of Natural Resources (LCDNR) invites members of the public to share input on the management plan update for Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. 

Background

Horsetooth Mountain Open Space (HTMOS) was originally acquired by Larimer County in 1982. Since then, using Help Preserve Open Spaces sales tax dollars, the Department of Natural Resources has expanded the Open Space by purchasing adjacent properties, most recently in 2017.  Management of the Open Space is currently guided by the 2007 Horsetooth Mountain Open Space Management Plan.  Considering the age of the plan, the recent expansion, and desire to enhance both visitor experience and wildlife habitat, Natural Resources is updating the management plan in 2021.

Horsetooth Mountain Open Space (c) Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero
Horsetooth Mountain Open Space

Process

Planned to begin in 2021, extensive public input and a stakeholder engagement process will guide the update to the HTMOS management plan update. Larimer County will follow the management planning process adopted in the 2015 Open Lands Master Plan, which outlines steps for collecting public feedback and developing the plan. Public input will be sought in multiple ways and include tools such as digital idea boards, online surveys, trailhead tables, and public meetings. Information collected will help guide future management actions at Horsetooth Mountain. Proposed management actions will consider three primary objectives: visitor experience, ecological health and conservation of natural resources, and operational sustainability/financial feasibility.

   

2021 Timeline

June-August Collection of public feedback begins
Stakeholder feedback meeting
Online survey open
Interactive map opens
Virtual public open house - August 9
August-September Trailhead tables begin
Compiling public input
Develop draft concepts for feedback
Virtual public open house - Sept. 28
October

Phase 2 interactive map open for comment

Phase 2 survey open

November-December

Compile phase 2 feedback and  input

Draft plan released for public review; Comment period

Finalize plan update

   

Horsetooth Mountain Open Space (HTMOS), is located west of Fort Collins, is comprised of 3,269 acres, and was purchased by Larimer County through a series of land acquisitions spanning 1982-2017.  HTMOS is bounded by Lory State Park to the north, Horsetooth Reservoir to the east, and private lands/subdivision on portions of the west, east and south edges.

Within HTMOS there are 29 miles of natural surface trails accessed by two primary trailheads, the main parking area along County Rd. 38E and the Soderberg trailhead.
 

Primary goals for protection include the mountain backdrop and viewshed, iconic Horsetooth Rock formation, natural, wildlife, cultural resources, and to provide access to outdoor recreation.

Within an approximately 6 mile long (span of HT Reservoir) by 4 mile wide area immediately west of Fort Collins (including HTMOS), there is an interconnected complex of city, county, state, and federal public lands managed east to west for a spectrum of urban park-based to natural resource-based recreation opportunities including: 

  • 80 miles of interconnected natural surface trails
  • 40+ miles paved surface trails 
  • 23 trailheads/parking lots with over 770 parking spaces that serve this trail system  
  • Day use and parking areas welcoming opportunities for boating, swim beaches, picnic facilities, campgrounds, playgrounds, ball fields, tennis courts, a skate park, frisbee golf course, two bike skills parks, equestrian xc courses, and an off-leash dog park

 

A Visitor Use Study was conducted at HTMOS by Colorado State University for a full calendar year in 2017-2018, finding the following information:

  • 224,000 annual visitor days
  • Primary activities included 55% hiking, 21% walking dogs, 15% mountain biking, 9% trail running, <1% horseback riding. 
  • Visitors chose HTMOS for exercise (76%), nature (65%), and location (55%).
  • Visitors gave a 98%+ overall satisfaction rating of “Good or Excellent” at HTMOS when asked about trails, facilities, and overall experience.
 
 

Stay Connected with the Plan

To stay up to date on any updates or milestones with the HTMOS Plan Update, please join our e-mail list.  Have a question? Please contact Zac Wiebe, the HTMOS Plan Project Manager.