We value our watershed for...

We value our watershed for...

We value our watershed for...

We value our watershed for...

We value our watershed for...

We value our watershed for...

About BTWC

Our Story

From its sparkling headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park to its confluence with the South Platte, the Big Thompson watershed provides the water we drink, the food we grow, the wood we harvest, the fishing and wildlife habitat we enjoy, and the beauty we treasure. Whether you are a resident within the watershed, a downstream water user, or one of millions who visit and explore the Big Thompson River every year, this waterway holds special value to the livelihoods and lifestyles of those connected to it.

During the catastrophic flood of 2013, many of the ways people were connected to and benefited from the Big Thompson River were significantly impacted. Soon after the flood, the Big Thompson Watershed Coalition (BTWC) was formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to help private property owners and other groups collaborate over flood recovery and long-term improvements to the health of this treasured area, its wildlife and its communities.

Big Thompson River in the aftermath of the 2013 Flood

Our overarching objective is to foster resilience in the watershed by providing multi-purpose and multi-stakeholder benefits to water and forest resources, as well as the wildlife and people who depend on them. Since 2013 we have helped raise over $10 million dollars in federal, state, and local funds for river improvement projects, developed 3 large-scale river management and restoration plans, completed 10 major river enhancement projects, and worked with over 150 private landowners and organizations in the process.

The BTWC serves a unique function of bringing together private landowners, public land management and infrastructure agencies, agriculture, local business, and recreation and tourism industries and recognizes these individuals as key parts of the Big Thompson watershed’s unique identity, economy, and health. We appreciate the support of our community partners and look forward to continuing this important work in the future.

US 34 damage resulting from the 2013 Flood at the Narrows

Big-T Fact: The Flood of 2013

Over 1 week in September 2013, 15-20 inches of rain fell across the watershed.

This one flood event:

  • Forced Larimer County (which incorporates the entire Big Thompson watershed) and 13 other Coloradoan counties to declare state of emergency

  • Claimed two lives in the Big Thompson and 6 more statewide

  • Damaged or destroyed 6,000 homes, 1,000 businesses, bridges, roadways, etc.

  • Eroded river banks and flushed soil downstream, leaving deposits up to 10ft deep in some places

  • Impaired substantial ecological, recreational, and economic resources 

  • Left a wake of damage estimated at over $2 billion state-wide

Big-T Fact: The start of the BTWC

The Big Thompson Watershed Coalition was started by a handful of volunteers who met in a local fly shop to take action on post-flood recovery!

Our Vision

A healthy and resilient Big Thompson watershed benefitting fish, wildlife, and the people it serves through collaborative efforts for current and future generations.

Our Mission

Working with others to take action that protects and restores the health and vitality of the Big Thompson watershed for the use and enjoyment of our community.

Our Values

RESTORE river function

We consider community perspectives and multiple environmental objectives in our river projects. Our projects holistically improve river function enhance habitat for fish and wildlife, while incorporating community values to benefit diverse groups of river users.

SUSTAIN resources for the river

We seek to enhance the Big Thompson Watershed now, and for the future with our various partners. Our funding objectives include project planning and implementation, administration, community outreach and education, and the management of projects to meet site-specific goals.

PARTNER for an all-lands approach

We build trusted partnerships with public and private groups to span boundaries across different interests, land ownership, and resource accessibility. This includes working with private property owners, local businesses, community groups, federal, state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and research institutes with complementary interests.

ENGAGE through community participation, outreach and education

We listen to our community and seek to inspire stewardship through sharing and taking action towards our vision. We help build community by hosting events that encourage participation in restoration, protection, and planning for the long-term health and resilience of this valuable resource.