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As Larimer County considers raising park and open space fees, what about lottery money?

Proposed fee increase not final yet
Posted: 5:12 PM, Oct 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-23 00:50:26Z

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LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. -- Coloradans are passionate about the outdoors, but when it comes to access there's a debate over how much parks and open space should charge for admission.

The debate started after Denver7 aired a story about a proposed fee increase for Larimer County parks, open space and camping. 

Many viewers wrote in to share their thoughts about a possible increase to use these outdoor spaces.

One woman wrote, "I certainly understand the need to maintain trails but I don’t agree with fee hikes. Outdoor space needs to be accessible and affordable for all. No fee hikes! Keep hiking free where it is already and don’t raise fees for other locations. It can make it unattainable for many. For some it’s already too expensive."

Other outdoor enthusiasts say they can live with an increase, especially as more and more people move to the Front Range.

"I'm fine with it, I just feel like this area in particular is getting overcrowded," said Eric Lundy, a mountain biker.

What about the lottery?

The Natural Resources budget for Larimer County was $25 million in 2017 and state lottery funds contributed $650,000. 

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) uses a portion of lottery proceeds for the state's wildlife, parks, rivers, trails and open spaces. Executive Director, Chris Castilian, said although the lottery is expected to bring in $68 million for GOCO this year, it sill isn't enough to "solve everybody's problems."

"We're seeing a demand on GOCO's resources right now that's about three to one and so for every dollar that we give out we're seeing local government's needs tripling in effect and the population is only going up," said Castilian.

Background

Larimer County hired a Denver-based company to conduct a fee study. The study projects a $2 increase for Carter Lake, Flatiron, Pinewood and Horsetooth reservoirs. It currently costs $7 to get in.

Fees for campsites at those reservoirs could be increased, too. The price for an electric campsite from April to September could go up from $25 to $32. 

The study also suggests raising fees at open spaces from $6 to $9.

The proposed increases aren't final and there will be an opportunity for public input. Larimer County is holding an open house to discuss the fee changes on Oct. 22 from 6-8 p.m. at the Larimer County Loveland Campus. More information on the fee study and open house is available  here .