The Big Thompson River corridor through the City of Loveland and adjacent portions of Larimer County has many excellent existing resources and opportunities to enhance and add to the benefits that the corridor provides to the public and the ecosystem. Despite the sound planning and preservation of floodplain and natural areas along the river, the Big Thomson River corridor is an underutilized resource. The 2013 flood caused damages along the corridor from undersized crossings, out of bank flows, and erosion, among other factors. While some portions of the river support health riparian vegetation and have habitat that would be suitable for aquatic organisms, other portions are more degraded due to disconnection of the river and floodplain, bank erosion, and limitations on available water due to upstream diversions that can dry out the river through Loveland.
The purpose of this project is to:
- Capture a long-term vision for the river corridor, making it a landmark for the City, and recommend a process for how the City should see that vision through to fruition. This vision will be key to vetting projects and proposed changes along the corridor.
- Identify and evaluate potential projects providing cost-effective ways to improve flood control and ecological functions of the corridor, in addition to other benefits. Planned projects in the master plan will form a capital improvement plan for the Big Thompson River corridor.
- Conduct an analysis of resilience metrics and benefits for proposed projects related to protecting existing infrastructure and environment, public and private properties, and local businesses.
- Restore natural ecological functions of the river and riparian corridor. The master plan will recommend on a per reach bases how the City can best restore the river corridor to a more naturally functioning, healthy river system that is a better public amenity and more resilient to future floods.
- Recommend how the City can better capitalize on opportunities provided by the scenic river corridor that runs through it. What recreation opportunities, small projects, restoration efforts, open space connections, trails, strategic alliances, tourism/economic opportunities, property acquisitions, private redevelopment, etc. should be pursued or encouraged?
- Recommend how the City should best manage and maintain the river corridor. Management and maintenance of the corridor is a shared responsibility among multiple departments in the City and the County. A comprehensive management and maintenance plan is needed to coordinate and improve these efforts.
The Project Team’s ultimate vision for the Big Thompson River corridor through Loveland is a fully “connected corridor,” which includes a network of interconnected greenways, parks, open spaces and natural areas that provides the public with opportunities for recreation and interaction with the river and nature, while at the same time providing a healthy river and riparian ecosystem for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, while reducing flood hazards.