Rural/Mountain Living & FAQ’s

For further information on Park County, State of Colorado, Special Districts and more, please refer to our “Links” page, and Colorado Parks & Wildlife Page.  Much of this information has been provided by Park County.

The Code of the West has been offered in the sincere hope it can help you enjoy your decision to reside in Park County.  It is not our intent to dissuade you, only to inform you.  The body of this document and most of the original wording was taken from a work by John Clarke, a commissioner in Larimer County, Colorado.

The Code of the West was first chronicled by the famous western writer, Zane Grey when writing about the men and women who came to this part of the country during the westward expansion of the United States.  The values of integrity and self-reliance guided their decisions, actions and interactions.
In keeping with that spirit, we offer this information to help the citizens of Park County who wish to follow in the footsteps of those rugged individualists by living outside city limits.
Park County’s diverse beauty and seemingly endless open spaces are attracting year-round residents at a rate unparalleled since the last gold rush.  For over twenty years, Park County has been one of the fastest growing counties in Colorado.  However, Park County’s high altitude (8,400-14,000 feet), winter climate and lack of fast-food restaurants, shopping malls and other creature comforts cause many flatlanders to move back to civilization within the first few years.  Relocating to this rural mountain environment from urban area entails a period of adjustment, compromise and occasional culture shock. 

MOTHER NATURE
Residents of the county usually experience more problems when the elements and earth turn unfriendly.  Here are some thoughts for you to consider.
1. Trees are a wonderful environmental amenity, but can also involve your home in a forest fire.  Building at the top of a forested draw should be considered as dangerous as building in a flash flood area.  “Defensible perimeters” are very helpful in protecting buildings from forest fire and, conversely, can protect the forest from igniting if your house catches on fire. If you start a forest fire, you are responsible for paying for the cost of extinguishing that fire.  For further information, you can contact your local Fire District.
2. Steep slopes can slide in unusually wet weather.  Large rocks can roll down steep slopes and present great danger to people and property.
3. Expansive soils can buckle concrete foundations and twist steel I-beam You can determine the soil conditions on your property if you have soil test performed, or consult a geologist or geotechnical engineer.
4. North facing slopes or canyons rarely see direct sun light in the winter  There is a possibility that snow will accumulate and not melt through the winter.
5. The topography of the land can tell you where the water will go in the case of heavy precipitation.  When property owners fill in the ravines, they have found the water that drained through that ravine now drains through their house. 
6.  A flash flood can occur, especially during the summer months, and turn a dry gully into a river.  It is wise to take this possibility into consideration when developing your property or building.
7. Spring run-off can cause a very small creek to become a major rive  Many residents use sand bags to protect their homes.  The county does not provide sand bags equipment or people to protect private property from flooding.
8.  Nature can provide you with some wonderful neighbors.  Most, such as deer and eagles are positive additions to the environment.  However even the harmless animals like deer cross the road unexpectedly and cause traffic accidents.  Rural development encroaches on the traditional habitat of  coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, rattle snakes, prairie dogs bears, mosquitos and other animals can be dangerous.  In general, it is best to enjoy wildlife from a distance and know that if you do not handle your pets and trash properly; it could cause problems for you and wildlife.  The Colorado division of wildlife has many free publications to help educate you about rural living.
9.   Many areas in Park County are open for hunting.  Hunting, while providing recreational opportunities, is a tool for managing wildlife populations.  It also involves individuals who may trespass, litter, and fire guns.  Don’t assume the adjacent property is a “no shooting” area.

Q.  Is HPMD an HOA?
A.  NO.  HPMD is a special district.  The HPMD special district is a government entity primarily concerned with managing water within the district.  HPMD does have a VOLUNTARY membership fee.  (see next question)

Q:  What is the annual HPMD VOLUNTARY community fee?
A$50 per household.  This fee is required if purchasing fishing badges,  renting the community center building, and water access.  This fee goes toward operating costs of the District such as community center propane (for heat), community center electricity, purchasing fish to stock the lakes, and much more.  This fee does not provide your residence with any extra services.

Q:  What are the fishing regulations?
A:  Please refer to the “Fishing Page” for rules, regulations and application for fishing in our lakes.

Q:  Is the community center available for rental?
A:  The community center has re-opened for community activities and
private events.  Strict regulations will be enforced due to to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Maximum capacity at this time is 35 people.  Please refer to the application on the “Forms” page for the rental fees.  Fees must be paid prior to renting the community center.  Please contact the administrator for further details about community center rental.

Q:  Does the community center have regular business hours?
A:  No. The community center is empty except when there are scheduled meetings and activities.  The best way to reach the district is via email at harrisparkinfo@gmail.com or via message phone 303-816-7259.

Q:  Who do I talk to about boarding a horse at the community corral?
A:  Contact the horse commissioner.  Please refer to the “Horse Corral” page for information on boarding horses.

Q:  Who do I contact for questions on personal wells, septic systems
and building permits.
A:  As HPMD is NOT an HOA, we abide by the laws and regulations 
of Park County.  Please contact them.

Q:  How do I get a key to my new mailbox?
A:  Contact the US Postal Service for all mailbox issues.

Q:  Does HPMD have trash service?
A:  No.  Contact a local trash company and arrange for service to your property.  You are responsible for the cost of trash removal.  Please note HPMD is an area populated with bears and other wildlife- keep your trash secured until the day of trash removal.  You are responsible for cleaning up your scattered trash due to animals or wind.  Because of the high risk of fire, the State of Colorado has laws that prohibit and/or restrict the open burning of trash and yard debris.  You will need to contact your local fire protection district to determine your ability to burn these types of materials on your property.

Q:  What do I need to know about utilities in Park County?
Water, sewer, electric, telephone, trash pick-up and other services may be unavailable or may not operate at urban standards.  Even cellular phones do not work in all areas of the county.  Repairs can often take much longer than in town and cities.  Please review your options from the non-exhaustive list below:
1.  Telephone communications can be a problem, especially in the mountain areas of Park County.  If you have a private line, it may be difficult to obtain another line for fax or computer modem uses.  Even cellular phones will not work in all areas.
2. Not all wells can be used for watering of landscaping and/or livestock  Additionally, a loss of electric power can interrupt your supply of water from a well. It is wise to have an alternate means of electricity, such as a generator.
3. Electric service is not available to every area of Park County.  It is important to determine the proximity of electrical power.  It can be very expensive to extend power lines to remote areas.
4. Power outages can occur in outlying areas with more frequency than in more developed areas.  You may also lose food in freezers or refrigerators and power outages can cause problems with computers as well.  It is important to be able to survive for up to a week in severe cold with no utilities if you live in the country/mountains.

Q:  Who is responsible to maintain the roads in HPMD?
A:  Park County Road and Bridge Department.  If you have questions or issues with your road, you must contact them (719-836-4277).  The HPMD sought public input regarding roads back in 2007.  At that time Harris Park residents voted down a plan to raise taxes to pay for HPMD to take care of road maintenance.  
              Access:  The fact that you can drive to your property today does
                 not necessarily guarantee that you, your guests and emergency 
                service vehicles can achieve that same level of access at all times. 
                Please consider:
                1.  At some locations, the earliest opportunity for emergency

                     vehicles to reach remote properties may be the end of spring
                     runoff in June.  In most areas, however, the response time is much
                     shorter.  It is therefore wise to establish the proximity of emergency
                     services to your house, construct a driveway that is accessible and
                     post your physical address in a visible location on the county road.
                     Emergency response times (sheriff, fire suppression, medical care,
                     etc.) cannot be guaranteed.  Under some extreme conditions, you
                     may find that emergency response is extremely slow and can be
                     very expensive.
              2.  While Park County maintains many roads, many rural properties are
                   served by private and public roads
which are maintained by individuals
                   or by private road associations.  Additionally, there are many miles
of
                   county roads that are not maintained by the county, including grading
                   and snow plowing.  There are
even some public roads that are not
                   maintained by anyone.  Make sure you know what type of
maintenance
                   to expect and who will provide that maintenance.
              3.  In extreme weather, even county maintained roads can become
                   impassable.   You may need a four-wheel
drive vehicle with chains on all
                   four wheels to travel during those episodes, which could last for several
                   days.
              4.  Natural disasters, especially floods, can destroy road  A dry creek bed
                   can become a raging torrent and
was out roads, bridges, and culverts. 
                   The repairs of these private roads are the responsibility of the
landowner
                   who use those roads.  Park County by law can only repair and maintain roads
                   in the County
Road system.
              5.  Unpaved roads are not always smooth and are often slippery when they are
                   wet.  You will experience an
increase in vehicle maintenance costs when you
                   regularly travel on rural county roads.

Q:  What issues can affect my property?
1.   The development of lots or portions of lots may be affected by geological hazards, frequent flooding, wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes.  Additionally, priority fish and/or wildlife habitats and species may limit the type and location of development you may perform on your property.
2.  The location of a new residence is a particularly important decision because it is so permanent.  Recent arrivals often build their homes on the highest ridge or hilltop on their property.  However, what they may not realize is that the farther they can see from their picture window, the farther their home can be seen by others.  Weather conditions, like wind and snow, can affect your utility expenses if your residence is out in the open and subject to the elements.  Additionally, emergency access to your property may be affected if emergency vehicles cannot reach your residence.
3.  Outdoor lightning can be very useful in improving visibility and safety and creating a sense of security, while at the same time minimizing energy use and operating costs.  If outdoor lighting is not well designed and properly installed, it can be costly, inefficient, glaring and harmful to the nighttime environment.
4.  If you have a ditch running across your property, the owners of the ditch have the right to come onto your property with heavy equipment to maintain the ditch and to access the ditch and the water source.  The water flowing in irrigation ditches belongs to someone.  You cannot assume that because the water flows across your property, you can use it.  Flowing water can be a hazard, especially to young children.  Before you decide to locate your home near an active ditch, consider the possible danger to your family.  Ditch owners are not legally responsible for accidents.  Also, flow levels may be changed abruptly without warning.  Irrigation ditches tend to raise the ground water level.  Be sure to check if there is a seasonal ground water fluctuation that may affect your basement or well.
5.  Find out what level of road maintenance is provided to your property and by whom.  While snow removal on major county road is one of the most important functions of the Park County Road and Bridge Department, your road is not necessarily the highest priority.  The county is required to    maintain roads in remote areas only one time each year and not all roads in Park County will fall under this guideline.  So remember, if the county maintains your road during the winter, they may be doing you a favor.

Q:  I would like to keep livestock (horses, chickens, etc.) on my property.  What are the rules about livestock on property?
A:  Harris Park is subject to Park County zoning as well as land use regulations.  Please contact Park County for information about animals and required space.  Harris Park does not have any rules separate from county rules.
          Agriculture:  The people who settled this land developed ingenious methods
          for raising hay and livestock in the harsh mountain climate.  As a result,
          agriculture is now an important part of our culture and environment.  The
          following points should be part of our culture and environment, and should
          be considered before deciding to build in agricultural areas of Park County.
          1.  Ranchers often work around the clock, especially during calving and haying
               seasons. Hay is often swathed
or bladed at night and ranch equipment may
               be in constant use during this time period.  Livestock are
sometimes moved
               across highways or county roads. Courtesy dictates that you pull over and
               patiently allow
livestock to pass.  After all the cows where here first. Colorado
               has an open range law which means
ranchers are not required to keep livestock
               fenced in, if you do not want cattle sheep or other livestock on
your property it is
               your responsibility to fence them out.
          2.  Land preparation and other operations can cause dust especially during windy
               and dry weather, ranchers
occasionally burn their fields and ditches in preparation
               for the upcoming season.  This normally creates
 smoke during the spring.  
               Chemicals (mainly fertilizers and herbicides) are used in agriculture, to which
       
       many people have severe allergic reactions.   Animals and their manure cause
               objectionable odors.  What
 else can we say?  If you choose to live in the rural
               countryside, enjoy the scenery and remember, this is the
real west.
          3.  Do not expect county government to interfere with the normal operations of our
               ranching community. 
Colorado has the “right to farm” legislation that protects
               farmers and ranchers from nuisance and liability
lawsuits and allows them to
               continue producing food and fiber, regardless of how new residents feel about 
               their country neighbors.
         Owning rural land also means knowing how to care for it.  There are a few things
         you need to know:
          1.  In July 1990, the Colorado Legislature passed a bill commonly called the
               “Colorado Weed Management
Act.”  This weed bill requires all landowners to
               manage all “undesirable plants which present a threat to
continued economic
               and environmental value of the lands of the state.”
         2.  Animals can be dangerous –  Bulls, stallions, rams, boars, etc. can attack human
              beings.  Children need to
know that it is not safe to enter pens where animals are
              kept.

Q:  My neighbors have a bunch of junk piled up around their property. Will HPMD force them to clean up their property?  A:  No.  Harris Park Metro does not have any jurisdiction regarding land usage.  Please contact Park County.

Q:  Does HPMD own the cell phone tower called the Harris Park  
Tower?
A:  No.  This tower is located between the Deer Creek Valley Ranchos  subdivision and HPMD.  It is privately owned and the individual who owns it has chosen to name it the Harris Park Tower.  HPMD has no affiliation with or information about this cell tower.

Q:  Who is in charge of the shooting range behind HPMD?
A:  The shooting range is located within Pike National Forest.  Pike National Forest is managed by the US Forest Service.  Any closures or issues with the shooting range should be directed to the Forest Service.

Q:  Why is the road into the forest sometimes closed?  (Road and gate behind Flora Pond)
A:  HPMD does not have any jurisdiction over the gate being open or closed.  Please direct any questions about the gate and/or the road into the forest to the US Forest Service.

Q:  How can I obtain copies of HPMD records?
A:  Under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), most public records are to made available to the public.  Information can be requested by completing the CORA request form on the “Forms” page.

Q:  Can personal vehicles and/or equipment vehicles be stored on HPMD Property?
A:  Unfortunately no, because of liability reasons.  Personal vehicles and/or equipment must be parked/stored on resident’s property.  Harris Park does have the right to have personal vehicles and/or equipment removed from Harris Park property at the owner’s expense.  There are notices posted on our community boards.  We have contracted with Bailey Towing 303-838-4464.