Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

LARIMER COUNTY OPEN LANDS ADVISORY BOARD MEETING

MINUTES

Thursday, February 24, 2005 – 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:

Brian Hayes

Mark DeGregorio

Duane Pond

Peter Kast

Sue Sparling

Bill Newman

Ted Swanson

Bob Streeter

Lori Jeffrey-Clark

Jean Carpenter

Jim White

 

 

Staff

Jerry White

Kerri Rollins

Meegan Flenniken

Charlie Johnson

K-Lynn Cameron

Charlie Gindler

Gary Buffington

Ann Montoya

Lori Smith

Glenn Gibson

Maxine Guill

Frank Lancaster

 

Absent: 

Eric Hamrick

 

 

Chair, Peter Kast called the meeting to order at 5:10 p.m.

 

Duane Pond motioned to approve the minutes of January 2005; seconded by Sue Sparling.  Bob’s name will be deleted from the Education questions.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  Welcome to Glenn Gibson, County Commissioner Liaison to the Open Lands Advisory Board.

·  Congratulations to Charlie!!!  Charlie Gindler was offered and accepted the position of Manager of Eagle’s Nest Open Space.  You will not miss him as he will continue to administer our Agricultural Protection Program and periodically attend Board meetings to give us updates on the day to day happenings at Eagle’s Nest.  Charlie will move to his new position at the end of March.

·  The position vacated by Charlie will be advertised in late February with an anticipated start date around the beginning of April.

·  Work Session with County Commissioners – Overview of the Open Lands Program – March 17 – 9:30- 11:30 am.  RSVP to K-Lynn.

·  Finances:  Lori reviewed the Annual Summary for 2004 and Summary for 1996-2004.  Lori said cash flow projections are very conservative for the future.  She is still working on long term management fund spreadsheets and will present those at a later meeting. 

·  The Eagle release at Fossil Creek Reservoir on January 29 drew hundreds of people and received much media attention. 

·  The 2005 COSA (Colorado Open Space Alliance) Conference will be hosted by Colorado Springs on September 15 and 16.

·  Parks and Open Lands Activities for February and March

·  Traffic counts at Fossil Creek show that it is as busy as the Devil's Backbone Open Space.

·  Development projects: The American Society of Civil Engineers will do a tour of the Soderberg trailhead at 330pm tomorrow 2/25.  Virginia Soderberg will also be there.  Board members are welcome to attend.  The Soderberg Grand Opening is scheduled for 4/9 at 10am. Development at Eagle's nest Open space has been started again after contractor delays due to weather.   

 

BOARD COMMENT

No comments from the Board regarding items not on the agenda.

 

PRESENTATION

·  Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), Georgia Doyle and Stephanie Neid

CNHP is performing a plant and animal inventory project throughout areas in Larimer County on behalf of a partnership group.  Partners on this project are Larimer County, City of Fort Collins and City of Loveland as well as a grant from Great Outdoor Colorado that made this project possible.  CNHP tracks rare plants and animals throughout the world and identifies Potential Conservation Areas (areas believed to contain rare or endangered species).  CNHP ranks PCA’s according to Biodiversity Significance (B1, B2…B5) with B1 being the greatest biodiversity significance possible.  B ranks are derived from G ranks (global significance).  This study has focused its work on the Front Range of Larimer County. 

Stephanie gave an overview of the targeted ecological systems in Larimer County.  Stephanie reviewed various ecosystems such as the Ponderosa Pine Big Blue stem and the locations they are found and the new locations they were found with this study.  Locations of various grassland systems were also reviewed.  A unique occurrence of Desert Salt Scrub is found in the area of the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains project.  Riparian Forest and shrubland areas were discovered on the Blue Mountain Bison Ranch, this occurrence is new since bison were introduced to replace cows on the ranch.  Georgia featured Bell’s twinpod, a plant species with a global rank of G2G3 and a state rank of S2S3.  This species rates so high because throughout the entire world, it grows only in Lairmer County and Boulder County.  Almost all intact populations have been protected by the Open Lands Program and its partners.  Prebele’s meadow jumping mouse only occurs in a narrow band along the Front Range , where willow occurs – primarily in river drainages.  There are probably more mice than we know of, as much of this habitat is on private land.  Swift fox and McCowan's longspur are also found in the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains area – animals tracked by CNHP.  Colorado’s Front Range is the second best place in the US for the diversity of butterflies and moths, particularly in the Horsetooth area.  Georgia reviewed many other unique and interesting examples of species that occur in Larimer County that are significant.

 

Management issues facing these species are weeds, recreation, grazing and fire.    Jean asked if they could overlay Open Lands properties on some of their maps in the final report.

 

·  Weeds – Maxine Guill, Weed Specialist for Parks & Open Lands.

Integrated Pest Management was used to establish longterm goals of the weed program and to identify priorities. Abiding by the Colorado Noxious Weed Act guides the program.  An example of an “A” list species is Yellow star thistle and a “C” list species is cheat grass.  There is a public hearing tomorrow to decide whether to add new species to the state noxious weed list, such as Orange hawkweed or Common buckthorn, among others.  Larimer County also has a noxious weed list, and they are looking to add Salt cedar.  Horsetooth Reservoir has been infested since the reservoir water level has gone down, creating a “ring” around the reservoir.  Maxine reviewed the 5 methods of weed control (mechanical, preventive, cultural, chemical and biological).  She also quickly reviewed a handout outlining some control methods and results that occurred on properties in 2004.  For 2005 she has a new GPS mapping system and will continue to expand weed control efforts.  Jennifer from the Weed District was also present to answer questions.  Jim asked what happens if horses eat Yellow star thistle.  Maxine said thorns from the flowers sticks in their mouth and they can’t eat.  Mark confirmed that the Bureau of Reclamation pays for 70% of weed control around the reservoirs. 

 

ACTION:

·  Small Grants Program Awards.  Ann reviewed the history of the Small Grants Program, currently in its 9th year. Jean, Sue, Bob and Bill are on the subcommittee that put together funding recommendations.  The group reviewed the packet of information regarding Small Grant applicants, and discussed in detail each grant that was recommended for funding.  These were:

#

               Applicant Name

City

Brief Project Description

Amount Funded

1

Mary Lenahan

Ft. Collins

Create a short biking/hiking trail to connect several residential areas.

$1,700

4

River Glen HOA

Berthoud

Provide a secured entrance to protect habitat in an HOA common area.

$  700

5

Trees, Water and People

Ft. Collins

Provide landscaping around improvements at Horsetooth's South Bay campground and camper cabins.

$1,500

6

Lindenmeier HOA

Ft. Collins

Mitigating weeds and revegetating an HOA  common area.

$  500

7

Front Range Community College

Ft. Collins

Phase II of a project designed to eliminate Russian olive and tamarisk from Parks & Open Lands areas

$1,800

8

Red Feather Lakes Community Library

Red Feather Lakes

Create a high altitude, native species demonstration garden.

$1,800

9

Front Range Community College

Ft. Collins

Planting trees & shrubs at Soderberg Open Space Trailhead. 

$   500

10

Educo School of Colorado

Ft. Collins

Creating a defensible space area by planting fire-wise plant species.

$   500

12

Trappers Point HOA

Ft. Collins

Fourth and final phase of a wildlife habitat restoration project at an HOA common area.

$1,045

 

 

 

Kerri gave an update on the progress of the Awards Ceremony and auction fundraiser to be held at New Belgium Brewing Company on March 25th.  The silent auction component of this event will be held to raise dollars for the development of the Blue Sky Trail.  New Belgium will provide complimentary food and beverages.

Duane motioned to accept projects #1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 as listed in the handout and packet enclosure, funding a total of $10,045.  Sue seconded and the motion passed unanimously.  Bob Streeter recused from voting since his HOA submitted an application.

 

·  River Bluffs Stewardship Plan – Meegan quickly touched on highlights from her February presentation on the proposed plan for this property.  The plan focuses on weed management.

Bob motioned to recommend approval of the plan to the Director.  Sue seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. 

 

·  Eagle’s Nest Open Space Education Plan – Ann reviewed why it is important to have an education plan.  The plan provides a recommendation of topics, and not verbatim words.  Education Plans typically follow the development of a management plan.  Plans will review needs, purposes, audiences, stakeholders, and product suggestions, as well as statements of significance among other things.  A public process is also involved with theses plans, but not as extensive as the Management plan process.  A Technical Task Force is assembled to gather public advice and expertise.  Ann reviewed the statements of significance, such as “Ranching Done Right”, “The View From Here”, “There goes the Neighborhood”, and “What’s so different about this place?” proposed in the Eagle's Nest Plan.  Bob had many comments that he wanted to incorporate into the plan before it was adopted. 

OLAB tabled this action item until Ann can see Bob's comments.  Ann will provide a new draft over email highlighting areas where changes have occurred and the vote will be done by email.

 

·  Eagle’s Nest Open Space hunting lease with the Division of Wildlife – Charlie said the DOW accepted the lease as outlined last month and he is still waiting for written comments back from them.  No action was taken. 

 

·  Trail name for the regional trail connecting the Devil’s Backbone to Horsetooth: “Blue Sky Trail”. 

Jean motioned to accept the naming subcommittee's recommendation to name the regional trail connection the Blue Sky Trail.  Duane seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. 

 

Discussion Items

·  2005 Forest Management Program – Meegan distributed speaking points outlining a prescribed burn on the Hughey Open Space.  A postcard mailing will be sent to neighbors within a 2-mile radius.  A public meeting will not be held this year unless Meegan receives calls requesting it. 

·  Expansion of Open Lands Advisory Board role to include Parks issues – Peter introduced Marc Engemoen, Public Works Director and Frank Lancaster, County Manager.  Frank gave an overview of this idea that will provide a sounding board for parks issues.  He thinks what has made the Open Lands Program so successful is the Board, and he thinks the Parks Program needs something similar.  The Department needs advocates for the parks issues, a sounding board for upcoming issues, to deliver goals and objectives.  There was a Parks Board that was dissolved because of the formation of the Open Lands Advisory Board. 

 

Parks staff was directed to find revenue making projects to maximize the revenue coming out of the parks system, but as projects come up they have been met with public opponents.  A Board would be helpful in determining solutions to questions such as: Should a goal of the Parks Program be to maximize revenue?  This could be an issue discussed by the Board, that would alleviate the staff getting beat up at public meetings.  It is a given that the Parks Program needs a Board.  Frank said that since it is the Parks & Open Lands Department is it appropriate to expand this Open Lands Advisory Board to include Parks Program issues? Integrated policies can be good especially as issues/properties often interrelate.  The BOCC could change the make-up of the OLAB to include more active recreation representation, or if the Parks Program has a separate Board what would that look like?  Frank doesn't want to get in the situation where a parks board has a different/conflicting management philosophy than the OLAB.  It would be difficult to explain to the pubic why there are two different  philosophies within the County.  Frank said he is wide open to suggestions.  Marc Engemoen said the voice for the public is really important.  He thinks we need a citizen board that takes a critical look at staff proposals and can create a dialogue around park issues. Marc said the Department is already closely integrated with stewardship and management. 

 

Ted said there are no problems filling the meetings till 8pm, the scheduled ending time of a typical Open Lands Advisory Board meeting.  Ted would have a problem if the Board lost its advocacy role devoted to land acquisition if they got too involved with public recreation issues.  Peter said they will talk about it again next month and come forward with a recommendation in April.  He feels that one thing they can't lose is that OLAB needs to maintain a positive influence for open space from a political point of view, and not get too involved in issues such as the Carter Lake Marina or North Campground at Horsetooth Reservoir.  Frank said most people already do not distinguish between parks and open lands.  Jean asked about the sizes of other County Boards, Frank said OLAB is already considered a big board.  The Planning Board meets once a month and have additional work sessions once a month.  Marc said that if the Board was combined staff would have to be conscientious of not wasting Board time and not bringing them miniscule items to consider.  Jim restated that the agendas are already full and he thinks we need to be very careful about adding other duties.  Frank commented that if the two separate boards option was chosen, it would be impossible not to step on each others toes.  He said when it comes to management there are a lot of common issues such as weeds, forestry, stewardship, etc.  Sue asked if the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Board has anything to do with their Parks board.  K-Lynn said they used to, but now they have separate boards with a standing trails committee that consist of members from both boards.  Each staff makes regular presentations to the other board.  Frank said that the City's Parks board also does air quality issues and other things that don’t relate to our issues.  Frank reiterated that the only given is that we have to have a citizen advisory board for the Parks Program and that they have to work well with the OLAB.  Jean asked if there are basic philosophies that the Parks Program and Open Lands Program share, and where are there differences.  K-Lynn suggested that staff should put together some thoughts and recommendations for the April meeting.  Jeans said that would be beneficial.   K-Lynn suggested the OLAB can make a recommendation to the BOCC in May to give more time for staff to frame the issue better for OLAB.  Many Board members will be gone for the March meeting due to Spring Break.

·  Financial subcommittee report – Ted, Jim, Bob, Bill, and Peter area on subcommittee.  Peter reviewed results of the meeting, whose discussion revolved around developing and evaluating options and strategies to adequately fund acquisition, development and management of open lands over the long term.  Some question that arose included should we work with area managers to lower management costs?  Should we focus to increase private sponsorships?  Should we partner with other open space agencies on more projects?  Should we determine the appropriate level of service needed at each open space?  Do we have surplus lands and if so, should we consider leasing or selling them?  The subcommittee will meet once per month until August to discuss these and other issues.  Finance Committee will meet again on 3/17.

·  Legislative update

·  SB 174 County Open Space Sales Tax Exemption – County’s are currently limited to 1% of sales tax.  If passed this bill will allow county’s to go over that cap by up to ˝% if the use is for conservation purposes.  This would allow Larimer County to free up our Ľ-cent tax for something else.

·  HB05 1194 Economic Recovery Act – Sponsored by Andrew Romanoff, Speaker of the House is a bi-partisan effort to reduce the state income tax and allow the state to keep the surplus dollars.  This would go to a vote of the people in November because it is a part of Tabor.

·  HB05-1244 Concerning the administration of the credit against state income tax for the donation of perpetual conservation easements. This is a tune-up bill of the state tax credit program to move the submission of tax credits from 12/31 to 4/15 of the next year.  Tax credits will now also be allowed to be passed on in wills, whereas before they died with the owner of them. 

 

DIRECTORS REPORT

Gary did not add anything to his written report and memo included in the packet.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Duane moved to go into Executive Session at 8:12 with the recognition they would take action on an item after coming out of Executive Session.  The motion was seconded by Bill.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

The Board came out of Executive Session at 8:20 to take action on accepting an 11-acre conservation easement of the Sylvan Dale Ranch held by the City of Loveland as part of the Green Glade Reservoir Project.  The 11 acres is adjacent to the Green Ridge easement at Sylvan Dale that Larimer County already holds. 

 

Duane motioned to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners to accept an 11-acre conservation easement of the Sylvan Ranch from the City of Loveland.  The motion was seconded by Bill.  All were in favor except for Bob Streeter who denied the motion.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Duane.  The motion was seconded by Sue and carried unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

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