Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

LARIMER COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY BOARD (EAB)

 MEETING MINUTES

January 12, 2010

 

 

Members In Attendance:

 

Guests:

Ruben Blanco

 

Greg Vickerman, Information Technology

Melissa Chalona

 

Justin Smith, Sheriff’s Office

Michael Jones

 

Kevin Atchely, Forest Service

Kimberly Karish

 

Carol Kruse, Forest Service

Jennifer Lee

 

Stacey Baumgarn, Facilities

Ryan McShane

 

Margaret Reid

Kate Muldoon

 

Ross Reid

Jarrett Tishmack

 

Marjorie Wolf

Bill Zawacki

 

Maggie Mora

 

 

Michael Sledge

 

 

Ben Myers

 

 

 

 

 

Staff :

 

 

Doug Ryan

 

Amendments to the Agenda:

The scheduled updates regarding Alps Tire and Uranium Mining were tabled until the February meeting.

 

Introduction of Members and Guests:

Those in attendance introduced themselves.

 

Citizen Comments:

Ben Myers from the Red Feather Lakes Area addressed the EAB about the Middle Bald Mountain communications site.  Mr. Myers is a member of the Mummy Range Institute, and presented a handout to outline several reasons he opposes siting the radio towers on Middle Bald Mountain.  Those reasons include: 1) the sensitive nature of the location, especially the tundra ecosystem near the summit; 2) the extensive improvements required, including buildings, service roads and powerlines; 3) the potential for other towers if Larimer County succeeds in building the first facility; 4) the conflict between the tower and the view space preservation guidelines outlined in the Red Feather Lakes Area Plan; and 5) the lack of a cooperative approach at working with concerned citizens on developing a non-destructive communications alternative.

 

Michael Sledge from the Red Feather Lakes area addressed the Advisory board about the Middle Bald Mountain communications site.  Mr. Sledge noted that he is a member of the Red Feather Lakes Planning Advisory Committee.  He pointed out that in the Red Feather Lakes community, Bald Mountain is a central and very valued part of the view corridor.  In his opinion, even this very prominent site will not solve the radio communications problem because it will still leave large areas in the Poudre Canyon out of coverage.  Mr. Sledge pointed out that we are in a transition period between line-of-site radio communications which requires numerous towers, and satellite communications which avoids the problems associated with towers, access roads and power supplies.  He indicated that similar to Mr. Myers’ view, the County has not been open about discussing this issue and considering reasonable alternatives.  Mr. Sledge indicated that the area around Middle Bald Mountain would be suitable to support the boreal toad, which is listed as an endangered species in Colorado.   

 

Discussion Items:

Middle Bald Mountain Communications Site:   Greg Vickerman, Justin Smith, Kevin Atchely and Carol Kruse provided an update on a proposal by Larimer County to site a radio communications tower on Middle Bald Mountain west of Red Feather Lakes.  Middle Bald Mountain was identified as a potential radio communications site in a study performed by CCNC consulting approximately seven years ago.  Mr. Vickerman indicated that the purpose of the site would be to provide reliable radio communications for emergency services in the Red Feather Lakes and Poudre Canyon areas.  The proposed tower may contain both 800 megahertz and VHF equipment for services such as the sheriff’s office and fire department radio communications.  Drive test studies have been performed to evaluate the actual coverage that could be achieved.  Justin Smith indicated that those tests confirmed that a tower on Middle Bald Mountain would meet the county’s needs for greatly improved radio communications.  He also indicated that reliable communications are essential for public safety and response needs.

 

The property on Middle Bald Mountain is part of the Roosevelt National Forest, and would require issuance of a Special Use Permit by the U.S. Forest Service in order to allow the construction and use of a radio communications facility.  The Forest Service would need to evaluate the proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires either an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  For either review process, the Forest Service would be the lead agency, with funding for the studies coming from Larimer County.  Kevin Atchely indicated that this proposal has generated considerable community controversy and that his agency may require a full EIS in order to ensure that all the issues are fully considered.  Either process requires a scoping phase to identify the issues that need to be considered.  A range of alternatives would also need to be identified and evaluated under either process.  Carol Kruse noted that the Forest Service would issue a prospectus to inquire if other people had similar interests in using the area for communications as part of the scoping process. 

 

The EAB members had a number of questions about the proposal and the Forest Service review process.  The discussion following those questions noted that the County would be open to solar power, but that engineering indications were that it would not be practical.  Extension of electric line power is anticipated to be part of the proposal.  Road improvements for the tower access and the power line may be necessary.  The tower would be below the height that requires lighting by the Federal Aviation Administration.  The issue of visability will be one of the environmental factors that require evaluation under the NEPA process.  The County does not believe that satellite communications are a viable alternative to radio towers at this time because they do not work inside buildings or in confined areas where natural objects create a “shadow” blocking the path to the satellite.  If other users wanted to mount radio equipment on the County tower, both the County and Forest Service would have to authorize that use.  If another user wanted to propose a separate tower in the area, the Forest Service would have to evaluate that proposal under its Special Use and NEPA requirements.  If the County decides to proceed with the NEPA review, the Forest Service will determine what funding and technical information will be required. 

 

The speakers indicated that they would be available to answer additional questions.  Doug Ryan will email questions received from the Advisory Board members before January 20.  The EAB will include time on its February agenda to review the answers to any such questions.

 

Energy Efficiency Projects:  Stacey Baumgarn, Energy Conservation Specialist for Larimer County, provided an update on the County’s proposal to spend funds received under the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program.  Larimer County received $364,200 and can select areas for expenditure in one or more of 13 eligible program categories.  Mr. Baumgarn provided a written summary of draft proposal, and reviewed the five activities that the County is proposing.  The general categories for those activities are: 1) development of an energy efficiency and conservation strategy for County operations, 2) retaining a technical consultant to perform a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for County facilities, 3) institution of a series of employee behavior and  technical programs aimed and energy efficiency and conservation, 4) adoption of the more energy-efficient 2009 International Building Code, and 5) installation of a solar photovoltaic system on the roof of the Larimer County courthouse Office Building.  Each of the activities includes a number of specific implementation steps.

 

The EAB members discussed the grant proposal and had a number of questions about how the individual activities were chosen.  The consensus of the Advisory Board was that the range of activities represents a reasonable mix of one-time only projects and ongoing activities that can help sustain increased energy efficiency.  Members noted that the emphasis on behavior measures is very important both because it is effective and because it engages staff to be creative and innovative.  The EAB indicated that they would be very interested in reviewing future work products and in contributing their expertise as the strategies are implemented.   The grant application specifying how the funds will be spent must be submitted to the Department of Energy by January 22.

 

Chair’s Comments:

Melissa Chalona noted that there are currently 10 members on the EAB, and that recruitment to fill the two vacancies will be part of the County’s advertisement for Boards and Commissions in the spring.  Members were encouraged let colleagues who may be interested know about he process. 

 

Approval of December 2009 Minutes:

The minutes from the December meeting were approved as presented.

 

EAB Issue Index:

Doug Ryan will update the Issue Index related to the topics discussed at the meeting.

 

February Meeting Agenda:

Alps Tire Pile, Uranium Mining, Middle Bald Mountain Tower

 

Adjourn:

The meeting ended at 9:00 PM

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.