Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

 

Thursday, February 28, 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

Bob Streeter

Nancy Wallace

Brian Hayes

Jim White

Sue Sparling

Bill Pinkham

 

Staff

Lori Smith

K-Lynn Cameron

Deb Wykoff

Windy Kelley

Gary Buffington

Charlie Johnson

Travis Rollins

 

 

Absent: 

Peter Kast

Don Griffith

Bill Newman

Ben Manvel

 

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

 

Bob motioned to approve the January minutes. Bill P. seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  Photo will be taken of Open Lands Board members for 2007 Annual Report.  Look your best! The photo was postponed to March.

·  Northern Colorado Food Incubator (NCFI) meeting on February 7, 2008. K-Lynn explained how the NCFI is working to connect local food producers with area restaurants and grocers who want to use/sale local products, including added market items (i.e. honey, jelly, etc.). A component of the planning is establishing a centralized location where local goods are purchased, the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority are working to identify a feasible site.

·  A facilitated meeting to begin developing an education program for Red Mountain Open Space and Soapstone Prairie Natural Area was held on February 14, 2008.  Jean Carpenter and Sue Sparling attended. K-Lynn noted the meeting was very productive and resulted in several education themes. Jean added CSU and the Fort Collins Museum had representatives at the meeting and all of the stakeholders were on the same page.

·  The Devil's Backbone trailhead is being redesigned to create more vehicle spaces with the opening of the Blue Sky trail.  The total cost is $11,000 - $4,000 from Devil’s Backbone operating budget and $7,000 from the annual allocation for Resource Projects, Emergency Reserve and Contingency. Travis noted the public has already provided positive feedback regarding the trailhead improvements. The new layout will accommodate approximately 60 vehicles, the capacity was formerly 30. This redesign was essential with the addition of the Blue Sky Trail and the need for users to leave their vehicles at the trailhead all day.

·  The Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts’ annual policy conference entitled New Era of Conservation 2008 was held in Denver on February 26 and 27, 2008.  Larimer County played an essential role in the organization and facilitation of the conference, enabling CCLT’s Executive Director to work with the press and Representative Alice Madden on the proposed legislation. Governor Ritter attended the conference and expressed support for the conservation easement tax credit program. Kerri and Windy did a fabulous job.

·  Weekly Larimer County Natural Resources column in the Coloradoan starting March 30, 2008.

·  An informational seminar for area landowners, “Stewarding Private Properties: Resources for Landowners,” is planned for April 16th at ARDEC. Partners for this event include CSU – Larimer County Cooperative Extension, Larimer County Weed District, NRCS, CSFS and CDOW.

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

·  The annexation of Fossil Creek Reservoir to the City of Fort Collins will go to the County Commissioners on March 11th.  The City’s review processes for the annexation will likely be completed this summer. Fort Collin’s will take over the management of Fossil Creek in 2009.

·  Representatives of the Northern Colorado Water Conservation District met with staff to discuss the Windy Gap Firming Project. They anticipate beginning to implement the project in 2011, will begin filling the reservoir in 2014 and the water level will reach its maximum capacity in 2016. The EIS is expected to be released in April.

 

BOARD COMMENT:

·  Bob inquired whether staff has considered the open space values of the Big Thompson parcels.

Gary explained the Parks Program is going through a pubic process, enabling the public to express their preferences for the future management/disposal of the parcels. Presently, five parcels have been disposed of and the 11 parcels identified by fishing groups several years ago are being reviewed for their recreational value.

 

Charlie added the majority of the Big Thompson parcels are less than an acre and situated in existing subdivisions. There is potential to combine some parcels, although they are deed restricted (i.e. overnight camping prohibited and construction of general facilities and/or fences are not allowed, etc.).

 

·  Moving forward: Transitioning the OLAB packet to electronic. K-Lynn shared OL staff have had conversations regarding the OLAB packet beginning distributed electronically, similar to the PAB packet. She asked the Board how they feel about this potential change. The Board agreed to try electronic packets starting with the March packet. Documents difficult to distribute electronically (i.e. maps) will be hand-outs.

 

PRESENTATION:

  • Weed Management on Open Lands - Maxine Guill, Weed Specialist

Maxine shared she has been promoted to the Weed District, working with private landowners. We are in the process of hiring someone for her former position Weed Control Specialist.

 

Maxine explained the Weed District uses an Integrated Pest Management approach for weed management, which utilizes the following methods: 1) biological control for larger infestations, 2) chemical control for small infestations, 3) cultural control, 4) mechanical control and 5) preventive control. The District primarily uses chemical control due to the smaller scale of the infestations they manage and the ease of ridding weeds quickly.

 

Fossil Creek Restoration Project: 1) The revegetation of the sewer line, started in 2006, had a low success rate due to hot weather; 2) Spring 2007 the inner loop was burned, target species were a) Kochia and b) Smooth brome overall the burn was successful, some spraying will be needed in 2008; and 3) Smooth brome on the Riddell section of Fossil Creek was sprayed and plowed in December.

 

A total of 6,423 acres of Red Mountain Ranch have been scouted for weeds of which 107 acres have been treated. There is a lot of Dalmatian toadflax intermixed with the Mountain mahogany community. A large patch of Leafy spurge exists in the Red Canyon section of the property where the trailhead will be located. This summer approximately 10 acres in and around the trailhead area will be treated.

 

Horsetooth and Carter Lake reservoirs: In 2007, the Bureau of Reclamation provided the Weed District $60,000 for weed management around the reservoirs, of which $48,000 was used. Last year Russian olive trees were removed at Carter Lake, Flatiron and Horsetooth reservoirs. Elm trees were removed from the entrance to Horsetooth Reservoir. In 2008, biological control will be utilized for treating the Dalmatian toadflax infestations at both Horsetooth.

 

The Indian Creek Restoration Project is being used as a research site, offering several study plots for treatments of Cheat grass. Last fall the area was burned and CSU applied several different chemicals that may be available in the future as herbicides. The northern most plot was burned and later treated with chemicals. A second burn is planned for this spring. Sheep grazing will be used again this year on the west side of the road.

 

Stewardship Manager, Tim D’Amato of the Weed District has created a Weed Management Plan for the County. The plan identifies four additional target weeds presently on both parks and open land properties: 1) Bull thistle; 2) Common thistle; 3) Hounds tongue; and 4) Scotch thistle. Maxine noted an ordnance is being proposed to regulate the height of vegetation.

 

Bob commented the Weed District needs to be conscious of the wording of the ordnance, as there are landowners planting native grasses that are taller.

 

Maxine said in 2009 the Integrated Pest Management Program will continue and the revegetation programs will expand to include scouted areas at Red Mountain Ranch and Chimney Hollow. The Weed District has applied for several grants to address weed infestations at Red Tail Ridge, Hermit Park and for around the Town of Berthoud. Additionally, with the recent findings of Zebra mussels in the Loveland Reservoir the District is beginning to address aquatic nuisance species.

 

Bob noted the Colorado Division of Wildlife is starting an inspection process to mitigate introduction of aquatic nuisance species.

 

Gary said talks have taken place to create a “spray program” which volunteers would implement at county managed reservoirs. However, a confinement area is needed for this program to work.

 

ACTION:

·  Hequist, Altmix and Simmon’s Memorial Fund donation to construct an outdoor classroom at the Devil’s Backbone - Waiver request to the policy for the recognition of financial contributions.  See enclosure.

Travis provided a brief description of the proposed open air, outdoor classroom at the Devil’s Backbone which will be donated by the Hequist, Altmix and Simmon’s Memorial Fund. In addition to the monetary donation the architecture layout and volunteer construction time are being provided. The donating family has requested a plaque, in memory of their son, be placed on the classroom. A waiver from the Open Lands Program’s policy regarding recognition of financial contributions is being requested to enable the placement of the plaque on the structure, instead of the kiosk located at the trailhead.

 

Bob moved to grant a waiver of policy P&OL-13 for a plaque to be secured on the proposed, outdoor classroom at the Devil’s Backbone trailhead, the plaque will read “Luke Altmix Hequist Simmons Outdoor Classroom.” Jean seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

·  Letter of Support for Hermit Park GOCO grant proposal.  See enclosure.

Jean moved to approve the support for the Hermit Park GOCO grant proposal. Bill P. seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

·  2008 Small Grants Program – Subcommittee Recommendations. – Jean Carpenter.  See enclosures.

Jean provided a synopsis of the process the Small Grants Program subcommittee followed for making their recommendations. The process included a site-visit to each of the nine proposed projects. Eight of the nine projects are being recommended to be awarded a sum of $10,000 of the $10,744 requested from the nine applicants.

 

The Board addressed each project individually which resulted in one recommendation and one condition. The recommendation is in regards to the Front Range Community College applicant. They previously received funding for this project. The Board recommends the Weed District conduct a site visit to ensure the grantee is being effective in their work. The condition is in regards to the Silver Leaf Beautification Committee proposal. To receive funding from the Small Grant Program they can only plant perennial, native vegetation.

 

Bill P. moved to accept the subcommittee’s recommendations for the Small Grants Program. Sue seconded and all passed unanimously except for the Peninsula at Horseshoe Lake Homeowner’s Association, which passed six to one opposed.

 

DISCUSSION:

·  Update on the River Bluffs Management Plan and Poudre River Trail. – K-Lynn Cameron

K-Lynn recapped the update of the River Bluffs Management Plan and Poudre River Trail from January. Last week the first of two public meetings was held, the two primary focuses of the meeting were to the proposed trail and trailhead for the Poudre River Trail on River Bluffs. Approximately thirty members of the public attended the meeting.

 

Several constraints were considered during identifying and proposing the trail alignment and trailhead location. The proposed trail is ten feet wide and paved. The anticipated alignment of the trail is along the eastern base of the western bluff, which is presently an old dirt road. Several on-site locations have been considered for the proposed trailhead. The proposed location south of the northwest corner and due north of the western bluff allows the trailhead to be tucked nearly out of sight from the adjacent neighborhood and will allow flexibility for trail alignment north of River Bluffs.  Several of the proposed amenities at the trailhead include: a 20 car parking lot, vault toilets, bike rack, bike pump, drinking fountain and kiosk.

 

One issue the public raised during the public meeting was the use of horses on the trail. Presently, horse use does not appear feasible due to several existing constraints: 1) all parcels north of River Bluffs to I-25 are located in an urban growth boundary and are planned for residential or commercial developments, and 2) the trail south of River Bluffs does not allow equestrian use. The Open Lands Program is working with the Town of Windsor to clarify and/or reconsider their policy. If the policy is reconsidered discussions will take place as to whether the trailhead at River Bluffs is the best location for accommodating horse-trailers or an area south of State Highway 392.

 

Other issues raised during the public meeting and a meeting held with residents of the adjacent Ptarmigan Subdivision are: 1) long term maintenance of the proposed trailhead amenities; 2) potential noise of trailhead users and how it impacts users at the adjacent golf course; 3) potential of golf balls striking either trail users and/or their vehicles; and 4) visibility of trailhead to adjacent homeowners. Feasibility for locating the trailhead further east, more wrapped around the bluff and closer to the river will be considered. This location might decrease the visibility of the trailhead to adjacent homeowners and create a greater buffer between trailhead and golf course users.

 

·  Opening of Hermit Park in 2008 – What does it look like? – Chris Flemming, Hermit Park Manager

Chris provided a thorough overview of the factors affecting the opening of Hermit Park and what the opening will include.

 

Presently, staff is working to design brochures and signs for Hermit Park as well as hire and train additional staff. Two full time, year round staff are already in place (Park Manager and an on-site caretaker), it is anticipated five seasonal staff will be hired, three rangers and two grounds staff. Campground and cabin rentals are being incorporated into the Departments existing reservation system. The anticipated opening day for Hermit Park is Memorial Day weekend, with a grand opening of the facilities to follow.

 

There are five campgrounds on the property. All 29 campsites in Campground 1 will be open, with seasonal closers (closed October 1 – April 30th). Campground 2 will be closed, a grant is being requested which would enable this campground to be redeveloped, stabilizing the heavily eroded roads, reconstructing several unsustainable campsites and creating campsites that can accommodate RVs. Campground 3 will be fully open with eight existing campsites, Campground 4 will be available for group camping reservations only, utilizing the six existing campsites and Campground 5 will be closed for restoration.

 

It is proposed to open all 15 cabins, renting them seven days a week, with a minimum of a two night stay. The two oldest and largest cabins (Madrona and Bear Claw) at the south end of the property are slated to be relocated in the future. For 2008 users of these cabins will be provided drive-in access through the locked gate.

 

Approximately three requests per week are being submitted through the Special Event Application Process to rent the Group Use Area. The maximum capacity of this area is 300 people. The Group Use Area can be reserved for events between May 31st – October 1st , for 2008, ten campsites in Campground 2 can be reserved by groups reserving the Group Use Area. Presently, individual events are being analyzed and charged accordingly based on the desired uses. It is anticipated in the future packages will be offered for the Group Use Area rental

 

In interim, the parking lot at the Group Use Area will serve as the trailhead for both the Homestead Meadows trail and the Kruger Rock trail (pending approval for the trail from the USFS).

 

Day-use at Hermit Park will be defined as 6 am – 10 pm throughout the year, as road conditions allow. A fee structure is in the process of being developed, taking into consideration, comparable local fees and the current fee structure at other county properties.

 

Bob asked if staff have considered requiring events to use a mass transit system. He expressed concerns of controlling dust and road maintenance.

 

Chris said the Department is encouraging entities who reserve the Group Use Area to carpool. Additionally, each vehicle entering the park will be assessed an entrance fee and parking at the Group Use Area is limited, it is anticipated these two factors will help minimize unnecessary traffic.

 

Sue asked if the Town of Estes Park has a bus. Bill P. noted for the last few years the Town has chartered buses from MacDonald Transit Associates. Transportation is an issue for the Town; in the future they may purchase their own bus.

 

FINANCIAL REPORT:

·  2008 Capital Construction Projects for Parks and Open Lands projects. – Deb Wykoff, Administrative

Deb reviewed the funding sources for each project, explaining the limitations on use of each source, and showing how available funds will be allocated in 2008.

 

Bureau of Reclamation grant funds can only be spent at the four BOR reservoirs managed by Larimer County. Title 28 grant funding provides up to 50% matching funds for capital improvements. ADA  (Americans with Disabilities Act) funds will match up to 50% of all new facilities with ADA components and ADA retrofits to existing facilities. Over $1.2 million are available; this will enable the Department to complete most of the Priority 1 projects in the new Parks Master Plan.

 

Lottery (Conservation Trust) funds are distributed to Larimer County based on population of unincorporated areas. These funds provide the primary match for the BOR grant funds; they have been conserved over many years until matching funds became available. In 2008, we will be using the entire Lottery fund balance on these projects.

 

GOCO grants are also funded by Lottery proceeds and are awarded to specific projects. With special thanks to Kerri Rollins, we have been awarded $695,000 for Master Plan projects at Horsetooth Reservoir. $347,500 may be received in advance, when a large contract is signed for some component of the project. In 2008, these funds will be used to match BOR ADA funding for three projects: S. Bay camper services building, South Bay campground expansion, and the Blue Sky / Field of Dreams Trailhead.

 

Open Space Sales Tax will be used for the Blue Sky Trailhead and Hermit Park, and all development projects at open space areas.

 

Park Development Fees are fees paid when building permits are issued, which must be used on park or open space lands that will have public access. The funds can be used for infrastructure to provide access to such areas. These funds will be used for the turn lanes at Hermit Park.

 

Park Operations fund balance is currently around $700,000; some of these funds will be used to supplement lottery money on construction projects and reimbursed at the end of the year.

 

Bob inquired if the dollar amount indicated on the spreadsheet for the Blue Sky trailhead is the original amount.

 

Gary responded the cost had been increased $20,000 and correlates with the budget for the GOCO grant; therefore the increase does not represent an actual cost increase to the project.

The old marina at Carter Lake is gone and they are in the process of constructing a new building funded by Lottery and ADA Funds.

 

Hermit Park will be funded primarily by Lottery and Open Space sales tax.

 

The timeline – by month and by funding source – allows us to track month by month while the projects are happening. The yellow bars designate the planning phase and the green bars are the construction phase of each project.

 

Blue Mountain District: Two projects are slated to be completed by Memorial Day weekend – the Carter Lake Marina, and Hermit Park, resulting in a lot of costs early in the year.

 

Many of the Open Lands projects will happen in late fall, which will allow us to use Open Space dollars up front at Hermit Park and Lottery dollars at Carter Lake Marina. However, the total contributions at Hermit Park for 2007 – 2009 will result in a 50/50 match, for an estimated total of $560,000 from each source.

 

DIRECTOR’S REPORT: 

·  A work session was recently held to discuss Mountain Pine Beetle in Larimer County. Several organizations attended, including representatives from both the State and Federal forest services. The beetle infestation is moving over the Continental Divide and is particularly in and around the Cameron Pass area. Communities are coming mobilizing to try and prevent high value trees from succumbing to the pine beetle. Discussions are taking place regarding biomass utilization; debarking of the trees must take place before the beetles fly in July. Gary noted state funding is available to address Mountain Pine Beetle, Larimer County is eligible for funding.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  (24-6-402(4) (a) C.R.S. Purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest. There were no executive session items.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Bob. The motion was seconded by Jean and carried unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at 8:41 pm.

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