Button Rock Preserve is located seven miles west of the Town of Lyons in the lower montane foothills of the St. Vrain Creek watershed. A section of the North St. Vrain Creek runs through the eastern third of the Preserve and elevations range from 6,000 feet to almost 7,500 feet. The City of Longmont purchased the Preserve primarily to protect and maintain the main municipal drinking water source for Longmont and Lyons. The area also functions as a nature preserve to protect the fragile watershed and allow limited passive recreational opportunities.
Property acreage and nearby water storage rights were acquired over time with the first parcels purchased in 1916. Longmont Reservoir and its water supply line were built between 1909 and 1912 and between 1967 and 1969 the Ralph Price Reservoir and Button Rock Dam were built to support a growing population and need for water. In the mid-1960’s during the issuance of the bonds for Button Rock Dam construction, the City of Longmont indicated to residents that passive recreational use of Button Rock would be allowed.
In 1990, the Button Rock Dam and the Longmont Reservoir and their surrounding lands were designated a protected watershed and Button Rock became known as Button Rock Preserve. Today the Preserve is over 3,000 acres and public recreation activities include passive recreational activities such as fishing, fly fishing, rock climbing, hiking, wildlife observation, and dog walking.
As visitation continues to increase, the need to balance resource protection with passive recreation has become critical. Visitation policies were developed starting in the 1960’s and 1970’s and were substantially updated in the 1990’s. Current regulations will be evaluated to determine if they are still aligned with the Preserve’s present-day management needs.
The City of Longmont is committed to protecting natural resources, cultural resources, and water quality at Button Rock Preserve, thereby protecting the municipal drinking water supply and contributing to the overall health of the St. Vrain Creek watershed. Through the Caring for Button Rock Preserve project, a management plan will be developed and adopted as a foundation for long-term sustainable, adaptive management of Preserve resources based on best available information.
The Button Rock Management Plan will provide specific management direction in the areas of:
- natural and cultural resource protection
- water quality protection
- existing infrastructure and improvements
- rules and regulations
This is a multi-year project starting in 2019 and anticipated to end in the latter part of 2020.