Saturday, December 29, 2018

Commissioners play free Devil's advocate

County rejects fee for Devil's Backbone area

 By Rob Carrigan,

Larimer County commissioners asked staff to look for partnerships to help cover operations costs at the Devil's Backbone, and rejected a proposal to add a day-use fee at a meeting before Christmas. The area has been free for the past 18 years.
County staff, citing Devil's Backbone increased use and popularity — matching other county open spaces in which a fee is needed to cover operations and maintenance costs — initially, proposed a $9 fee for the Backbone, but reduced the fee to $6 after several months of public hearings and open houses, and a survey and citizen advisory boards, prior to the recent decision.
Commissioners asked county staff to explore partnerships, perhaps with the city of Loveland, and to look for other ways to take care of increasing Backbone costs.
The board did approve other requested fee increases for the county Department of Natural Resources, including the cost of an annual pass for seniors and now offers a discount for veterans.
The veterans' discount will honor those who served in the military with the same discount seniors receive, offering a $65 pass for veterans. The new fees also include a 30 percent increase for camping, and an additional increase on weekends and holidays during the peak season, also to cover increasing operations costs.The increased fees are expected to be in place as soon as possible in 2019.
The 2,198-acre Devil's Backbone Open Space has 12 miles of trail connecting to Rimrock Open Space and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space for hiking, running, horseback riding, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, observing nature, as well as enjoying close-up inspection of the rock outcrop and long vistas.
"The Devil's Backbone itself is one of the most impressive and visible geologic landmarks in Larimer County, as well as an important cultural feature with a rich and colorful history," says information from the county's Department of Natural Resources.

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