Larimer County, Colo., natural resources director retiring after 18 years at helm
LOVELAND, Colo. – Larimer County Department of Natural Resources Director Gary Buffington will retire at the end of 2018 after leading the department for the past 18 years.
Buffington has guided the department through countless successes in conservation and recreation as it has met the challenges of increased demand for outdoor amenities in Larimer County.
“It has been a privilege to work with so many excellent, dedicated professionals at Larimer County and our partner agencies over the past two decades,” Buffington said. “Together, we have accomplished so much and made such a profound difference in the lives of our citizens and visitors.”
Buffington grew up in Larimer County and took the helm of the department in May of 2001 after 27 years with Colorado State Parks. Since then, the department has expanded to include numerous new open spaces, facilities and trails, along with Larimer County’s weeds and forestry programs.
When Buffington started this position, the department had conserved 12,000 acres of land. Earlier this year, it crested the 50,000-acre milestone for land conserved in Larimer County with the support of its partners and private landowners. Today, the department manages more than a dozen open spaces, four reservoir parks, several smaller parks and 95 miles of paved and natural surface trails, thanks in a large part to Buffington’s vision and leadership.
“I’ve been so fortunate to work alongside so many talented people over the years,” he said, “and I’m proud to know we’ve accomplished so much for the great outdoors in Larimer County.”
During his tenure, the department built and improved day use areas, campgrounds and facilities on county-managed parks and open spaces, including a visitor center at Horsetooth Reservoir. In addition, in 2014, thanks to the work of community stakeholders, Larimer County’s 1/4-cent Help Preserve Open Spaces sales tax was extended for 25 years, to 2043, with 82 percent of citizens voting in favor of it.
“The sales tax extension in 2014 was one of the highlights of my time with Larimer County and an incredible team effort,” said Buffington, who has worked in public service for 44 years. “The citizens of Larimer County let us know they care about local conservation and recreation and trust us to deliver both. All of us in Natural Resources take that responsibility very seriously, and as the department head, I was glad to see this affirmation of all of our hard work over the years from our citizens.”
After more than four decades working in natural resources, Buffington said that he’s looking forward to traveling, enjoying the outdoors in Larimer County and abroad, and spending more time with his family.
“I plan to spend time with my wife, our kids and our grandkids,” he said. “I believe that one of the most honorable choices in life is to be a public servant. Serving as the director of Larimer County Department of Natural Resources has been the most rewarding experience of my professional life. Thank you to all who have provided so much support over the years. I’ll see you on the trail.”
Larimer County is in the process of hiring a new Natural Resources director and expects to have a new person hired to lead the department by the end of 2018.