Estes Valley Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Plan

More than 200,000 people move to Colorado each year, and like the rest of the state, the Estes Valley is growing. We aim to protect lands that are important to wildlife, residents, and visitors to keep the valley healthy and beautiful.

To more strategically preserve land, the Estes Valley Land Trust is partnering with many local organizaitions to develop the first Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Plan in the Estes Valley! This plan is meant to serve all residents of the valley, and we want your input.

The Estes Valley community treasures and is committed to protecting natural resources and expanding outdoor recreation, where appropriate. That is why the Estes Valley Land Trust is spearheading the Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Plan. The Plan will identify conservation and recreation priorities based on public input.

The Plan will provide a unified vision, priority land conservation areas, and strategies. Utilizing the best available science and community input, the Plan will guide our collective efforts in conserving land with the highest scenic, wildlife habitat, historic, and outdoor recreation values. The planning process will involve a broad spectrum of residents and visitors who are passionate about nature and love to recreate in the outdoors, and who also are invested in the valley’s economic vitality. At the end of the process, the EVLT Board of Directors will approve the Plan and, in conjunction with partners, work to implement the Plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the geographic extent of the “Estes Valley”:

For the purposes of this survey, we consider the Estes Valley to be the lands as far north as Glen Haven, as far south as Allenspark, as far west as the National Park, and as far east as Drake and Pinewood Springs. Anyone living between Estes Park and these areas may participate in the survey. Click the map to enlarge. 

What is the purpose of the plan?

The Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Plan will inspire the community to preserve land and create meaningful and sustainable recreation opportunities. The plan will serve as a strategic plan for the Estes Valley Land Trust and identify the partnerships needed for implementation.   

How will my survey answers be used?

Your answers will be pooled together with the rest of the community and the data will be sorted to help the Estes Valley Land Trust better understand the types of land that should be preserved in the future. These results will be combined with geographic information to create maps that identify large areas where additional land conservation is desired. For example, if the survey results show that wildlife corridors are a high conservation property, the land trust could identify and contact landowners with established wildlife corridors and educate them about conservation. This could lead to additional conservation easements and more critical wildlife habitat protected forever.

Who is authoring and adopting the plan?

Logan Simpson Design is under contract with the Estes Valley Land Trust to draft the plan, which will be reviewed by the Steering Committee, prior to adoption by the Estes Valley Land Trust Board of Directors. The land trust is working with the Town, County and Estes Valley Recreation and Park District to consider adoption of the plan.  

Why is the Estes Valley Land Trust partnering with the Town and County on this project?

For many years, the land trust has partnered with the Town and County to preserve land. In fact, over 1,000 acres of land has been preserved by the Town, County and Estes Valley Land Trust working together. Examples include Hermit Park Open Space, Centennial Open Space at Knoll-Willows, preserved land around the Stanley Hotel and open space conserved near the Long’s Peak Trailhead.

The Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Plan is an opportunity to continue this legacy. If the Town, County and land trust can find common ground and identify shared conservation projects, additional acres can be saved.

In addition, the findings of the Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Plan could be used to help guide the Town’s future Comprehensive Plan and County landuse decision’s that occur just outside the Town limits.

Why is the Estes Park EDC and the Housing Authority partnering on this project?

Conservation is good for the economy. And both excel when they reinforce each other. Research shows that for every $1 invested in conservation in Colorado, $4-12 of public benefits are received. Rocky Mountain National Park is both a conservation and economic success. If the business community is able to participate and supports the Open Space and Outdoor Recreation Plan, that makes implementation of the plan more likely.

Workforce housing has been documented as a priority in Estes Park. Working with the Estes Park Housing Authority can help ensure that new housing will not adversely impact conservation priorities. It will also help prevent future conflicts between housing and conservation advocates, such as what is happening in Summit County. Working together now can prevent threats to conservation easements in the future.  

Why is GOCO funding this project?

Great Outdoors Colorado funded this project because they want the Estes Valley Land Trust to be more proactive with land conservation and provide more opportunities for participation. Communities across Colorado have developed similar plans that have resulted in thousands of conserved acres.


Steering Committee Members

The steering committee is made up of leaders from across the community with varying interests in the future of open space in the Estes Valley:

Jeffrey Boring, Estes Valley Land Trust

Tom Carosello, Estes Valley Recreation and Park District

Geoff Elliot, Rocky Mountain Conservancy

Larry Gamble, community member

Naomi Hawf, Estes Park Housing Authority

Travis Machalek, Town of Estes Park

Sarah Metz, Coldwell Banker

Estee Murdock, Rocky Mountain Conservancy

Ward Nelson, Estes Valley Land Trust

Amy Plummer, EVRPD Trails Committee, Estes Valley Land Trust

Todd Plummer, Estes Park Cycling Coalition

Chase Rylands, Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Adam Shake, Estes Valley EDC

Ernst Strenge, Boulder County Parks and Open Space

Jan Swaney, Estes Park Trail Trekkers

Zac Wiebe, Larimer County Natural Resources

Our Process