Loveland Bike Trail
 

 

Thursday, January 24, 2008 – 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Loveland Library MP Room

 

The mission of the Larimer County Open Lands Program is to preserve and protect significant open space, natural areas, wildlife habitat, develop parks and trails for present and future generations.  These open lands provide opportunities for leisure, human renewal and protection of our natural and cultural resources.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 


Present:

Open Lands Board Members:

Ted Swanson

Jean Carpenter

Don Griffith

Ben Manvel

Bob Streeter

Nancy Wallace

Brian Hayes

Jim White

Bill Newman

 

 

Staff

Kerri Rollins

K-Lynn Cameron

Meegan Flenniken

Windy Kelley

Gary Buffington

Charlie Johnson

Jerry White

Lori Smith

Jeffery Boring

Carrie Pfeiffer

Emily Saeli

 

 

Absent: 

Peter Kast

Sue Sparling

Bill Pinkham

 

 

Chair, Nancy Wallace called the meeting to order at 5:14 p.m.

 

Bill N. motioned to approve the November minutes. Ben seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  Welcome to Commissioner Randy Eubanks who is replacing Commissioner Glenn Gibson as liaison to the Open Lands Advisory Board as well as the Parks Advisory Board.

·  Welcome to Carrie Pfeiffer who is the new Open Lands Intern. Carrie is completing her final semester at Colorado State University. She majored in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism and has a concentration in Parks and Protected Area Management.

·  Sue Burke, Executive Assistant for Natural Resources was recognized as an Employee of the Month for 2007 for her outstanding service to Larimer County over the years.  Congratulations, Sue!

·  Larimer County received a $695,000 GOCO Legacy grant for Horsetooth Reservoir Park Improvements:  Larimer County’s proposal was ranked #1 in the state and received full funding!  Great job, Kerri!

·  Update on Hermit Park Open Space development. Meegan noted the Special Review was submitted December 10th and comments from the reviewers have been received by staff. On March 19th the Planning Commission will comment on the Special Review followed by the Board of County Commissioners decision in April. She added the site plan review is in process for the 2008 construction projects (hwy 36 turn lanes and entryway, group use area parking lot, internal roads to County Standard G and the modular building) and a grant to improve campground #2 in 2009 is are being applied for to GOCO that will use the Hwy 36 turn lane dollars for leverage. Meegan will complete all the special review and site plan review submittals including construction documents and then will turn the actual construction management over to Hermit Park Manager, Chris Fleming.

·  Update on the Tax Credit Task Force. K-Lynn explained State Representatives expect to release a draft bill for the present legislative session during the next few days which would strengthen the Colorado Conservation Easement Tax Credit Program. The proposed bill would require an appraisal associated with an in-part or in-whole donated conservation easement (CE) be submitted to the Division of Real Estate for review. If the Division has concerns regarding an appraisal the CE will also be submitted to the Department of Revenue for review. Additionally, the proposed bill will include a certification of conservation easement holders who utilize the tax credit program. An expert commission would be appointed by the Governor to develop the certification process. A pre-approval for every transaction is being considered.

·  The Coloradoan is featuring weekly city and county columns for 2008 on various “green” subjects written primarily by Larimer County Natural Resources and Solid Waste staff and City staff.  Look for these columns and faces you know in the Local and Regional sections on Fridays and Sundays! Depending on content either life or explore sections

·  Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) – Form a subcommittee to review the EIS for discussion and recommendation by OLAB to Commissioners. The EIS is expected to come out in February. Ben, Ted, Bob and Peter volunteered to be on the subcommittee.

·  The Devil's Backbone trail head is being redesigned to create more vehicle spaces with the opening of the Blue Sky trail. The horse trailer lot is being moved to the south and vehicle parking is being expanded to the west. Improvements are expected to be completed in February and there will be 60 vehicle parking and 5 horse trailer/bus parking spaces. Bob asked Gary what the cost of the project is and if it is within the initial budget, he did not know.

Project Manager Travis Rollin’s follow-up response: “The total cost of the construction will be approximately $11,000. I put in $4,000 from the 2008 operating budge for that property (Devil’s Backbone) and Gary added in $7,000 from the long term management discretionary fund to cover the costs. The $7,000 will be a one time increase in that budget to cover project costs.”

 
 

 

 

 

 


·  Larimer County and the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts are sponsoring a conference entitled New Era of Conservation 2008 in Denver at the Colorado History Museum on February 26 and 27, 2008.  Governor Ritter is the keynote speaker.  Contact Kerri if you are interested in attending.

·  Save the date, April 5th. (see handout) Jean discussed this year’s auction plans coordinated by Friends of Larimer County Parks and Open Lands. Proceeds raised from both the silent and live auctions will go towards a new sign for Hermit Park along US Highway 32. Donations for auction items are being collected. There will be a $20 entrance fee to cover venue expenses. Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be served.

·  Parks and Open Lands events for February.  See handout.

·  Next month Charlie will take a photo of the OLAB.

 

BOARD COMMENT:

·  No comment.

 

DISCUSSION:

·  2008 Work Plan for the Open Lands Program.  See handout**.

·  Natural Resources Education Plan. Kerri Rollins and Rob Novak

Kerri provided a brief history for developing the Strategic Education Plan which started summer 2007, it is anticipated the plan will be completed end of April 2008. The Core Team meets every three weeks. The Task Force, comprised by the Core Team, several department staff, OLAB members Jean and Sue as well as Parks Advisory Board member Linda Knowlton have meet twice during the planning process.

 

Kerri showed and explained a table developed through the planning process which will likely serve as the framework for creating individual education plans for all properties. The table identifies four unique education niches found on some or on all department lands, three primary target audiences and education/outreach program opportunities that exist between an individual niche and target audience (ex. Niche: Natural Resources; Target Audience: Youth; Education/Outreach Program: Junior Ranger Program). The table also identifies means for achieving each niche: 1) Who (ex. Department Expertise, Volunteers and Partnership), 2) Outreach/Method (ex. Public, General and Media) and 3) Planning/PR/Budget.

 

Additionally, nine program ideas to be administered by the Education Program have been identified: 1) Volunteer Naturalist, 2) Volunteer Ranger Assistants, 3) Arts in the Parks, 4) Junior Ranger, 5) Campground Activities, 6) School Programs, 7) “How To” Program, 8) Special Events or Education Events and 9) Rangers as Naturalists .To better understand the Education Program’s capacity to facilitate and/or operate these programs the resources needed (i.e. staff time, funding source(s), etc.) will be explored and defined. Kerri did note there is also the option to not have an Education Program for the Department.

 

·  Natural Resources Funding Sources Overview:  Uses and Limitations.  See enclosures.  Lori Smith

Lori explained her presentation and enclosures are intended to provide an overview of how department funding is interrelated, specifically funds for the Parks and Forestry programs. Lori first spoke about the Forestry Program with a total projected revenue for 2008 of $101,436, of which approximately twelve percent will come from the Solid Waste Department. She noted the Forestry Program had formerly been in the Solid Waste Department, and until next year Solid Waste will subsidize the Forestry Program. Approximately half of the projected revenue ($50,950) will come from the general fund, the Stewardship Program (referred to as Weeds Program in enclosure) contributes twenty-three percent of the Forestry funds to cover wages/expenses. Services provided by the Forestry Program will generate approximately $2,000; the Program is working to increase this figure. Expenses for the Forestry Program include a full-time forester, vehicle and equipment.

 

Bill N. asked if an increase of funds for the Forestry Program has been discussed, specifically related to signs of Pine Beetle moving into the Front Range. Gary said the Pine Beetle outbreak has been discussed. We are considering hiring seasonal employees to conduct forestry work as well as the Department conducting outreach and education about the issue.

 

Bob noted sharing of resources might applicable in this situation, with the United States Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) both having a stake in forestry management on private land and the city (Fort Collins) has a forestry program. Perhaps our role is connecting individuals with these resources.

 

Ben commented there are forests on several county properties and wanted to know who manages these forests. Gary responded, over the last four to five years department staffs in conjunction with the CSFS have created forest management plans and implementation for forests on county land.

 

Lori referenced page three of the enclosure, general fund allocations. The Department will receive almost $270,000 from the general funds, 45% of which goes to Horsetooth Mountain Park (HTMP). This percent of funds makes-up the difference between expenses and revenue generated at HTMP, since revenue generated at the reservoirs can not be applied to the HTMP budget.

 

Lottery dollars (i.e. Conservation Trust Fund) are a large source of revenue to the Parks Program and are requested on an annual base. Historically, the Department has used lottery funds to match Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) dollars, primarily for capital equipment and improvement projects.

 

The Department receives funds from the BOR for the Parks Program in five ways: 1) park generated revenue (i.e. park permits, concession licenses, etc.); 2) Title 28 grant funding; 3) ADA grant funding through Title 28 (applying for to help implement components of the new Parks Master Plan); 4) Homeland Security contract; and 5) Weed Control grant (this year 75% of cost will be granted). All five sources of funding can only be spent at reservoirs and their accompanying park.

 

K-Lynn provided an overview of the Open Space sales tax, 70% dedicated to acquisition and development, 15% management and 15% are discretionary funds. The tax allows for the discretionary funds to the Parks Program for capital improvement, although this has never happened. In 1997, the County Commissioners allocated 5% of the sales tax towards park improvements for seven years. In 2004, when the 5% allocation ended there were unspent funds, these funds will be applied to the Field of Dreams project. In 1999, when the Open Lands Program went back to voters to extend the sales tax for 15 years it was determined 30% of the sales tax needed to be set aside to pay for future management of open spaces. Last year, it was projected 37% needs to be set aside to enable the management of the Program go beyond the sunset of the sales tax. The Program must account for borrowed money in 2004 from the management fund, which we will begin to repay in 2010 and continue to figure what is owed on the bond money. These last two points are why there is no money from the Open Space sales tax not being spent on park improvements. She finished by noting the Open Space sales tax will likely go back in-front of voters in 2010.

 

·  River Bluffs Open Space – Poudre River Trail:  See handouts.

K-Lynn began by discussing a $500,000 grant opportunity offered by Colorado State Parks the Open Lands Program is presently seeking. The grant is designed to fund trail construction and/or land acquisition for the expansion of the Colorado Front Range Trail (FRT), the Poudre River Trail (PRT) is a part of the FRT. The grant will be awarded late June of this year and the County would have two years to complete the proposed project. Additionally, the engineering design for the underpass that the Town of Windsor is working on can be used as fifty percent match. We will seek additional funding for the construction of the underpass, including a grant opportunity through the Colorado Department of Transportation.

 

K-Lynn added the Weld County portion of the Poudre River Trail is complete, the approximately four and a half miles of trail the County is responsible for lies either within the Timnath or the Windsor growth management area. She explained the future trail alignment north of River Bluffs Open Space (RBOS) is unknown; therefore the proposed location of the trailhead, just south of the northwest corner of the property (accessed from County Road 3) is an ideal location. This site will provide us with the most flexibility as the trail route evolves. She noted a constraint of constructing the trailhead off of Highway 32E is the road would have to be paved, a significant expense.

 

Jeffrey provided a brief history of the management of River Bluffs Open Space which is presently managed with a Stewardship Plan written in 2005. He noted a management plan is needed before RBOS can open to the public. Jeffrey passed out and referred the Advisory Board to the Management Planning Process for RBOS. The public workshop (step four of the process) is scheduled for Thursday, February 21st, where planning opportunities and constraints will be presented; time will be allotted for public input. A Technical Advisory Team will be identified, providing a wide range of expertise and stakeholder input. The resource management planning process for RBOS is anticipated to take five to six months.

 

The Advisory Board asked about the status of trail negotiations north of RBOS. Jeffrey explained he and Charlie have had several conversations with these landowners and several parcels of land are within the floodway. Since development is restricted within the floodway, portions of these parcels could be ideal locations for the trail.

 

He noted if the landowner wants to develop at a higher density than 35-acre splits, the development will have to be annexed to Windsor, opening an opportunity for the town to require a trail easement through the property. It is anticipated Timnath will begin annexing by the end of February. He reiterated points regarding the State Trails grant and how these funds can be utilized now. This project will include the planning and construction of about a half-mile of trail, a trailhead and funds dedicated to the construction of the underpass. The proposed trail alignment and trailhead are out of conservation target zones (including the bald eagle buffer), ensures the safety for future visitors and will provide a positive user experience.

 

·  Open Lands Visual Artist Program.  See handouts. Emily Saeli, CCT Fellow

Emily provided a brief history of the Open Lands Visual Artist Program started in 2006.  This year a new process is being developed for the Open Lands Visual Artist Program. Several points Emily highlighted are: 1) applicants must be professional visual artist with the majority of their annual income from the sale of their artworks; 2) artist benefits include a complementary annual pass to department lands with entrance fees, access, as appropriate, to Open Spaces not yet open to the public and recognition through multiple venues; 3) the County will host a public celebration of the final submitted artwork; and 4) the artist of the year will donate a piece of artwork inspired by a department property which will be publicly displayed at a Larimer County building. Lastly, a review panel will form to select the artist of the year. This panel will include the artist from the previous year, professional art critic, an OLAB member and a staff liaison.

 

Bob suggested staff define whether or not selected artist will maintain the right to make additional copies of the donated piece and to define “visual art” for the purpose of the program.

 

ACTION:

·  Transfer of Horsetooth Mountain to the Open Lands Program.  See enclosure from Gary Buffington.

The OLAB Chair, Nancy, requested OLAB members to make comments (in favor of or not in favor of) regarding the transfer of Horsetooth Mountain Park (HTMP) from the Parks Program to the Open Lands Program. Comments should be clear and include pros and cons regarding the proposed transfer. She noted their comments will be shared with the County Commissioners.

 

The following comments were made by present OLAB Members:

 

Jim inquired whether or not this is a prescribed use of the Help Preserve Open Space sales tax and how we determine if it is or is not. Additionally, he asked how the transfer of HTMP will affect constituents of the Open Lands Program and their support for or not for the sales tax when we go back to the voters in 2010.

 

Jean acknowledged she has the same questions as Jim. Reviewing the Annual Report and comparing the acreage of park and open space lands, the transfer would be about 22% of the Departments total acreage. This is a large transfer, one that should have voter input. Jean noted we will be setting an interesting precedence based on the final decision, one that might indicate any park can be transferred to the Open Lands Program.

 

Bob asked where the initial source of funds for HTMP came from. K-Lynn responded it was an extension of a six month extension tax passed in 1981.

 

Ben added the $2 million that would be used from the Open Lands Program fund for the management of HTMP will have an impact on the Programs management funds.

 

K-Lynn explained the funds for HTMP would come from the discretionary fund (15% of revenue generated by the tax) which according to county attorneys is permissible. She acknowledged this is $2 million we would not have for future acquisitions or for maintaining other properties.

 

Ben asked what the percent of the $2 million is of the discretionary funds. Members of the Board calculated it to be 15 – 20% of the discretionary funds. Ben noted the property is “open space” and uses on the property correlate with open space type activities (ex. trails). He added that having the $2 million would enable the property to receive a higher level of maintenance than it will if it remains in the Parks Program. However, if the funds are not used at HTMP they would be used for other program projects. Ben finished by saying the question is whether or not the funds can be spared from other acquisition and/or maintenance projects within the Open Lands Program.

 

Meegan provided an overview of cost per dollar for transferring HTMP from the Parks Program to the Open Lands Program. Costs would include restoration and forestry work, increasing backcountry patrol and increasing the number of weeks the trail crew works on trails at HTMP, bringing area trails to the Department’s “B” standard, a trail standard the Open Lands Program strives to maintain on open spaces. She explained a formula has been developed to calculate the management/maintenance cost per acre for open spaces, taking into consideration the location of the trail (i.e. front or back country).  

 

Lori noted the budget and projection to 2018 includes an open space that has not been acquired. Additionally, the projected budget is structured to ensure the Open Lands Program is able to maintain and provide the same level of service at each property.

 

Ben highlighted the downside of using the $2 million for HTMP is another property could be acquired.

 

Ted noted if HTMP was privately owned and managed there would be no question whether or not the transfer is appropriate. In his opinion, voters would say the primary use of the Open Lands Sales Tax is land acquisition, not to manage the County’s problems. In terms of being legal, he thinks most voters would say they did not vote for the sales tax to be used for the transfer of HTMP from the Parks Program to the Open Lands Program.

 

Ben said Ted made a valid point, although he does not think most people will care/understand the difference. They voted for open space.

 

Bob agreed with Ben. He asked who remembered voting for the tax in 1981. He does not see the transfer itself as a risk; rather the risk is in stating the transfer will “free-up” general funds. Additionally, the recommendation for transferring the property was administrative, not from technical staff saying we need to manage the properties resources differently/better. If the recommendation would have come from a technical standpoint a better case for the transfer could have been made, this is what needs to occur in the future. It is important volunteer efforts at HTMP are increased (ex. trail maintenance and weed management).

 

Bill N. added in general he thinks the public is confused how the government works, particularly with a property managed by the Parks Program that should be under the Open Space Program. He reiterated what Jean said about public perception, and thinks the County should get the publics’ opinions. Bill referred to the “Visitor/Resource Management Issues Review Process” which addresses when public input should be considered.

 

Don said thinks the public would see the transfer as a positive, with increased care for HTMP. Concerns he thinks the public would have with the transfer are: 1) if recreational uses become more restrictive; and 2) user fees increase. He said there is validity for using the $2 million for maintenance of an existing department owned property verses acquiring new land.

 

K-Lynn said there would be no deviations from the current management of HTMP from the property’s adopted management plan. She added that in the future when a new management plan is drafted for HTMP some management changes may occur.

 

Brian supports the transfer of HTMP. He understands there are ramifications for this action, however, the management changes would be in the best interest for the property, its resources and the voters.

 

Nancy shared comments Peter submitted via email regarding the transfer. He noted he is conflicted on this issue. Peter believes, “it will be in the best interest of the park and the program to include it (HTMP) in the Open Land portfolio. … The major reason for any hesitation is the cost involved for on going maintenance issues. I do feel it will be a net positive when it comes to another election …”

 

Nancy said she supports the transfer for the reasons already discussed. She added better management is important. HTMP is where people go and a better product will result in voter satisfaction, outweighing voter dissatisfaction.

 

Ben added the transfer is the right thing to do, but he would encourage the County Commissioners to remember the Open Lands Program when extra funds are lying around or a favor is needed. The County is benefiting, not the Open Lands Program.

 

Nancy noted the County’s funding issues are connected to the jail. The Open Lands Program may have issues too. Although we are conservative in our budgetary projections people are not spending money, we may need to be more conservative.

 

Jim supported several comments Bob made regarding how the transfer came about. He added the proposal for the transfer needs to be made clear that discretionary funds are being used and the designation of their uses at HTMP.

 

Ted moved to recommend, to the Board of County Commissioners, the transfer of Horsetooth Mountain Park from the Parks Program to the Open Lands Program by July 1, 2008. Don seconded, the motion did not carry unanimously. (Six in support, three opposed). Two contingencies the Advisory Board Members made regarding their vote are: 1) the name for Horsetooth Mountain Park will be changed to Horsetooth Open Space and 2) this action should not set precedence for the future (i.e. transferring parks to the Open Space Program).

 

·  Updated “Visitor/Resource Management Issues Review Process.”  See enclosure.

K-Lynn noted the newly formed Parks Advisory Board has been added to the “Visitor/Resource Management Issues Review Process,” to ensure the two boards are provided the same information in regards to visitor/resource management issues on parks and open spaces. Ben motioned to approve the amendments to the “Visitor/Resource Management Issues Review Process.” Jean seconded and the motion passes unanimously.

 

DIRECTORS REPORT:

·  Carter Lake Marina, Gary passed around a picture of the future Carter Lake Marina funded by the Bureau of Reclamation and the lottery. The grand opening is planned for Memorial Day weekend.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION: (24-6-402(4) (a) C.R.S. Purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest.  Bob moved to go in to Executive Session at 8:06 pm, Ben seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Ben.  The motion was seconded by Jean and carried unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:18 pm

Background Image: Loveland Bike Trail by Sharon Veit. All rights reserved.