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Kayaks, canoes not OK’d for McCall Lake
The Longmont Times-Call Rachel Carter 303-684-5216 or
LONGMONT — Kayaking and canoeing will not be allowed on McCall Lake — at least not anytime soon.

The city doesn’t plan to take on “any additional commitments, including canoeing and kayaking at McCall Lake,” Dan Wolford, open space superintendent, wrote in an e-mail to residents who asked this summer to be allowed to kayak and canoe on the city-owned reservoir.

John Barth asked the city in June to consider letting kayakers and canoers use the lake, which sits on the south side of Colo. Highway 66 on the way to Lyons. He collected about 30 signatures on a petition to support his idea.

The city allows picnicking and fishing — from the shores or using bellyboats — at the lake, but not boating, swimming, camping or hunting.

Barth and other residents said kayaking and canoeing would be a low-impact use that would improve recreation opportunities at little or no cost to the city.

But Wolford and other park officials raised several concerns, including liability, rules and regulations, new signs and fencing to control access to the lake, and the fact that park workers go to McCall Lake once a week for trash and restroom maintenance, and there is no plan — and no money — to have them go more often.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board discussed the issue during its October meeting and unanimously recommended to allow kayaks and canoes on McCall Lake, while looking for ways to maintain the lake and reduce risk and liability there.

But parks officials didn’t go with the board’s recommendation because they worry about increasing recreational activity at the reservoir without being able to increase supervision and maintenance.

Upset residents were frustrated and disappointed by the decision and let the city know through phone calls and e-mails.

Since 2002, the parks division has lost funding and employees as the city has cut back on budgets, city director of parks, open space and public facilities Don Bessler said.

During that time, city officials have added parks, trails and open space but have cut the equivalent of five full-time parks employees, he said.

The city now has only three part-time rangers who patrol Union Reservoir, Jim Hamm Natural Area, Izaak Walton Park, Golden Ponds, Roger’s Grove, Sandstone Ranch District Park, McIntosh Lake, St. Vrain Greenway and McCall Lake, Bessler said.

If the parks department’s situation were to change, the city would be willing to revisit the issue, Bessler said.

Rachel Carter can be reached at 303-684-5216 or