Fort Collins rock climbers do not want to pay the price.
The Larimer County Parks and Open Lands Department is
considering implementing a fee to use the east side of Horsetooth
Reservoir. Local rock climbers have come out against the fee.
This area, which includes Rotary Park, Sunrise and Skyline, has
been closed for the last three years, said Tom Bender, Larimer
“They were free because they were closed and nobody was supposed
to be there,” Bender said. “Once we open those back up legally we
will charge fees.”
The area closed shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, due to terrorism
concerns and dam safety renovations.
“After 9-11, there was a big concern that (terrorists) would try
to flood the dam, Bender said.
“People went up there and went in areas they weren’t supposed
to,” Bender said. “There was no charge because the area was closed
Many rock climbers in Fort Collins have been enjoying the area
regardless. Some think that charging fees will discourage people
from using the area.
“I use it a lot. I know a lot of people that use it are college
students,” said Daniel Shaw, employee at The Mountain Shop, 632 S.
Mason. “(Charging fees) will definitely take away from a lot of
people. It probably won’t get used nearly as much as it did.”
Gary Buffington, director of Larimer County Parks and Open
Lands, said charging fees is a standard practice for open lands in
“All of our areas that we have open for public use we charge
fees,” Buffington said. “If you have a public area that’s open,
there is a cost for that.”
If implemented, the fee will be the same as that charged to use
other open lands in Larimer County. The fee of $6 for a day or $65
for the year gets users into all open lands and parks in Larimer
Buffington knows the price may seem steep, especially for
“I certainly sympathize with students,” Buffington said. “We’re
going to meet and talk about fees to try and figure out what’s best
The money collected is used for trail maintenance, trash
collection, rangers, sewage pumping, cleaning and weed control.
Some climbers think these services are unnecessary.
“Nobody asked any of the climbers if they wanted new bathrooms
or roads,” Shaw said. “I don’t think they should charge just
climbers. It could be included in taxes or something.”
“There’s a cost. Somebody has to pay for it,” Bender said. “The
user-pay philosophy is very popular.”
Sarah Blaser, a junior natural resources major and employee of
Outdoor Adventure Program at CSU, is not happy about the cost, but
she wants the land to be maintained.
“Personally, I’m not for paying a fee, but I know the land needs
to be taken care of,” Blaser said. “You have to decide if you’re
going to take care of your place of if you’re just going to let it
She said the area is very popular among rock climbers and
“There’s a lot of people that go up there and use it which makes
a big impact on the land,” Blaser said. “Unfortunately, that’s the
cruel reality of people finding a great place to recreate.”
Matt Donovan, freshman biology major, is not sure the area will
remain as popular if the fees are enacted.
“In general, having to pay for an area that is so accessible is
going to make the amount of climbers in Fort Collins go down,”
Donovan said. “It’s a sad thing, really.”
He said one of the major allures of rock climbing is the
“Why should I pay for something that I got into because all I
need is my gear and then it’s free?” Donovan said. “The whole
essence of rock climbing is that it’s free and it’s natural.”
Caleb Beal climbs in this part of Horsetooth several times a
week. He agrees with Donovan.
“I just don’t think they should commercialize our passion,” Beal