The Lower Blue Master Plan serves as a foundation to guide development in the Lower Blue River Basin in Summit County, which extends north from Dillon Reservoir to the Grand Couny border. Used in combination with the Countywide Comprehensive Plan, the Lower Blue Master Plan contains guidance on appropriate land use throughout the basin, including the protection of the area’s rural character north of Silverthorne, and recognition of existing development patterns. The content of the Plan is based on public feedback and sentiments, analysis of current land use conditions, and growth-related issues.
The mix of historical land uses and changes introduced since the original Plan was adopted in 1990 has resulted in a diverse set of values, which affect the philosophy of planning in the Basin. The central theme of this philosophy is the preservation of the Basin’s rural character through protection of elements such as agricultural land uses, accessibility to public lands for dispersed recreation, open spaces, abundant wildlife and fisheries, and scenic views, while protecting private property rights and promoting low-density development.
The rural character of the Basin includes physical features of wildlife, open meadows, irrigated hay pastures, hillsides, ridgelines, river valleys, ranch lands, forestlands, wilderness areas, environmentally sensitive areas, and significant view corridors. In situations of conflict between different plan goals, policies/actions, and implementation strategies, the Planning Commission shall only recommend approvals for development proposals that conform with the overall philosophy of the Plan and the rural character of the Basin.
The Basin’s natural setting is its greatest asset. Any future development that occurs in the Basin should be designed to minimize impacts to the natural environment. Natural features help define and give character to an area. The topography, aspect, vegetation and water features of the Basin come together in many combinations resulting in natural and visual diversity. Examples of important natural features are: sage meadows and open areas on south facing slopes, which attract big game; tundra and alpine areas; prominent ridgelines, which frame and dominate views; and stream corridors, which provide important aesthetic, recreational and wildlife values.
These natural features make important contributions to the Basin’s air and water quality and provide critical habitat for the Basin’s fish and wildlife. Development activities occurring in or near environmentally sensitive areas should be done in a manner that avoids adverse impacts to the Basin’s water quality and quantity, air quality, and wildlife habitat. Additional traffic and the expansion of the existing roadway network to accommodate future traffic may not be consistent with the desired character of the Basin.
The visual quality of the Basin is an important value to residents and visitors, and has many components including natural topography, existing vegetation, stream corridors, and the built environment. Visual quality is changed whenever new land uses are introduced. The changes can range from actual physical change in the landscape, such as siting of buildings, road cuts, utility corridors, and timber cuts, to detailed design features such as the design of buildings and roof lines. Inadequate consideration of the visual impact of proposed land uses can lead to degradation of the visual quality of an area. Visually sensitive lands such as open meadows, irrigated hay pastures, hillsides, ridgelines, river valleys, ranch lands, forestlands, environmentally sensitive areas, and significant view corridors exist throughout the entire Basin. The Basin’s scenic beauty and the community’s desire to protect view corridors warrant the County to consider visual impacts when planning land uses.

Click here for a map of existing area conservation easements and open space.