Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

Thursday, March 27, 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:

Peter Kast

Don Griffith

Bob Streeter

Nancy Wallace

Brian Hayes

Jim White

Sue Sparling

Bill Pinkham

Ben Manvel

Bill Newman

           

Staff

Lori Smith

K-Lynn Cameron

Deb Wykoff

Windy Kelley

Gary Buffington

Charlie Johnson

Kerri Rollins

Jerry White

Jeffrey Boring

Meegan Flenniken

Sue Burke

Randy Eubanks

Kathay Rennels

 

 

            Absent: 

Ted Swanson

Jean Carpenter

 

Chair, Nancy Wallace called the meeting to order at 5:13 p.m.

 

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

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  Photo will be taken this meeting of Open Lands Board members for 2007 Annual Report.  Look your best!

·  Update on Red Mountain Open Space. Meegan noted the Special Planning Permit was submitted to the Planning Department and was approved. The site plan review is the next step, which will be conducted throughout the spring. Presently, the feasibility of several sites for the base of operations is being evaluated and the trails are being laid out.

·  Update on Hermit Park Open Space. Meegan said the Special Review for Hermit Park was approved on March 19th and will go to BOCC on April 21st.

·  Weekly Larimer County Natural Resources column in the Coloradoan starting March 30, 2008. Kerri added the Department articles will be run every Sunday in the Explorer section featuring what we are doing.

·  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.

·  The Phase II Prescribed Burn at the north end of the Devil’s Backbone Open Space is/was slated for the week of March 24th as part of the larger for restoration plan for the Indian Creek Valley.

·  Sheep grazing will occur on the north end of the Devil’s Backbone Open Space and Rimrock Open Space, as well as Fort Collins natural areas, again this spring for weed management. Meegan added that last year about 500 sheep were grazed in the valley. This year the sheep will be confined to a ten-acre study plot, the results will be presented in approximately six months.

·  The VOC (Volunteers for Outdoors Colorado) Project Proposal for Horsetooth Falls Trail was selected and will happen the weekend of July 26th/27th – mark your calendars for this fun event!

·  Natural Resources staff will provide a panel representing various professions within the Department to a new course at CSU called "Real World Road Trips" on 4/3.

·  Coloradoan Editorial Board importance of Poudre River Trail. See handout.

·  Colorado Conservation Trust (CCT) accepted our request for a new fellow. K-Lynn added the new fellow will be employed fulltime for two years with the County.

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

·  HB-1353 to strengthen the Colorado Conservation Easement Tax Credit Program has been moved out of the Finance Committee and is now with the Appropriations Committee.

·  The draft EIS for the NISP project is expected to be released at the end of April. Bob added he will try to get hard copies of the EIS. K-Lynn thanked the subcommittee for volunteering and reviewing the document in detail.

·  Friends of Larimer County Parks and Open Lands Auction to benefit Hermit Park – K-Lynn noted the auction is scheduled for April 5th. Funds raised will go towards a new entrance sign to Hermit Park.

·  NatureServe, in collaboration with the National Geographic Society, is launching a new project called “LandScope America.” The project will look at 5 pilot states to develop web-based information highlighting successful large-scale conservation projects and how they were accomplished. They have contacted us about the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains Project and we will be working with them to this project along with various partners in the LFMP Project. See handout.

·  April 24th OLAB will meet at the Bison Visitor Center.

 

PRESENTATIONS:

  • Small Grant Program Awards – Sue Burke, Program Administrator and County Commissioners Randy Eubanks and Kathay Rennels

Sue welcomed the Small Grant Program recipients and provided a brief introduction. Commissioners Eubanks and Rennels presented each of the seven Small Grant applicants their awards and invited them to take a few moments to share with the OLAB the importance of being awarded a small grant.

 

  • Windy Gap Firming Project and Chimney Hollow Open Space– Jeff Drager, Project Manager, NCWCD and Jill Boyd Communication Specialist

Jeff explained Chimney Hollow was purchased in 2004 as a joint public partnership to provide open space and store water. He added with the existing water facilities infrastructure, next to Chimney Hollow, the location is ideal and in the end will result in fewer disturbances to natural resources. The intergovernmental agreement included rules for accessing the property before, during and after the reservoir construction and provisions for long-term management. The Natural Resources department will manage recreation on the reservoir for 50 years at no cost.

 

Bob asked if the ridge between Carter Lake and Chimney Hollow is privately owned. Jeff said the dividing ridge is split into 35-acre parcels.

 

The proposed reservoir will be 90,000 acre feet (slightly smaller then the existing Carter Lake Reservoir) and will increase reliability of existing water supply. Presently, “owners” of Windy Gap water pay the Big Thompson “owners” to deliver water from Lake Granby to the Front Range. When the Big Thompson is unable to deliver the Windy Gap water and Lake Granby is full, Windy Gap water spills over and is lost, this has happened the last six years. Owners of the Windy Gap Firming Project water include 10 municipalities, two rural domestic providers and the Platte River Power Authority, all of which are responsible for costs associated with the construction of the reservoir.

 

K-Lynn explained in 1996 when the Help Preserve Open Spaces sales tax passed Open Lands’ staff recognized the urgency to acquire and preserve the southern foothills. Chimney Hollow will offer non-motorized recreation on the reservoir which compliments the existing active recreation on Carter Lake. In “exchange” for managing the recreation free of charge on the reservoir, the County will provide law enforcement and security of the 350 foot dam. A boat ramp, picnic areas and approximately 10 miles of multi-use trail will be constructed on Chimney Hollow Open Space. The property will not be managed for overnight camping. K-Lynn noted it is anticipated water levels will fluctuate and if needed Chimney Hollow will store Big Thompson water if Horsetooth and Carter Lake reservoirs are at capacity.

 

Jeff noted the draft EIS will be released the end of April, beginning of May and will be followed by a 90-day comment period. The Record of Decision will be made by the end of 2008.

 

Gary added this reservoir will be the largest non-motorized recreation reservoir in the state.

 

Bill P. asked what the total projected project cost is figured. Jeff said it is anticipated to cost approximately $270 million.

 

Jim asked if the old house was assessed for historical value and if all of the fauna will be removed. Jeff said the old house is not considered to have any historic value and will be removed from the site prior to the area being filled with water. Additionally, all vegetation will be removed from the reservoir site to ensure better water quality.

 

Bob asked if it would be possible to transplant some of the vegetation from Chimney Hollow to another open space. Jeff said he is not aware of any problems with transplanting trees or conducting fire wood removal.

 

Bob inquired whether or not there are any concerns of the effects on endangered species or other issues with a greater amount of water being brought over. Jeff responded there are no concerns as water is already being diverted; the only difference is more water will be pumped then in the past. Yes, the Colorado River will run lower and therefore Trout Unlimited and Grand County are already looking to mitigate impacts to endangered fish near Grand Junction.

 

BOARD COMMENT: Items not on the agenda

 

ACTION:

·  Open Lands Board Bylaw revisions.  See enclosure.

The Board requested the following changes to the proposed revised board bylaws. In section III, the Department Mission, the semicolon following “… significant regional parks and open lands …” be removed. In section V (Members), point B, reword the second to the last sentence to read as, “Replacement of at-large members shall be of appointment by the Board of County Commissioners.”

 

The Board discussed whether or not additional terms for removing a member from the Board should be included in section V, point C (i.e. if a board member is involved in misconduct). It was recommended this proposed addition could be pursued in the future and the County policies and procedures should be referenced.

 

Peter moved to approve the revisions to the Open Lands Board Bylaws, including the requested changes to section III and section V point B. Jim seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

DISCUSSION:

  • Update on the department Education Strategic Plan – Rob Novak and Kerri Rollins

Kerri explained the last Education Core Team meeting resulted in several salient components of the Education Strategic Plan being established. The meeting included identifying the time allocation of the Education Coordinator which is: 40% developing and implementing education plans for the Open Lands Program, 40% coordinating events and education opportunities on open spaces and the remaining 20% will be allocated to coordinating events and education opportunities on park properties. The new focus of the Department’s Education Program is providing quality programs over quantity. 

 

The Volunteer Naturalist Program is becoming more efficient and will save about 20% of time, enabling the Coordinator to spend more time developing other programs such as Art in the Parks and the Junior Ranger Program. The Volunteer Ranger Assistant Program and the City of Fort Collin’s Trail Host Program are presently being combined, increasing the capacity of both programs. Campground Programs will be offered at Flatiron, Carter Lake South Shore, Hermit Park Open Space and Horsetooth South Bay. Additionally, both Parks and Open Lands’ rangers will become more involved and assist with the Naturalist, Junior Ranger and Campfire programs. Kerri added several programs suggested during the Task Force meeting (i.e. “How to Programs”) will be incorporated into existing programs (i.e. Campground Programs).

 

Bob asked if taking over Horsetooth Mountain Open Space will cost more then 6%.

Kerri said with the proposed 20% efficiency increase any added cost would be absorbed.

Bob asked if this means it would take less of the Education Coordinators time.

Kerri said this is correct.

 

FINANCIAL REPORT:

  • Purpose of  adding a Financial Report section to the monthly agenda – Nancy Wallace

Nancy recapped last month’s discussion regarding the Capital Construction Projects financial report. With limited financial resources it is more difficult to budget and more imperative to understand and know where money is being spent. This is particularly true for the Open Lands Program and with the foresight of going back to the voters during the next few years, we need to know and understand where the Program is financially.

 

Bill N. asked what form the reports would be provided.

 

Lori explained the Department of Natural Resources is within the Public Works Division which is comprised by six departments. The Division is working to develop and implement consistent financial reports for past, current and future reporting between each department. By July 1st the Division anticipates having the ability to look at salient topics and know if there are any monthly projections (i.e. looking in the short term and identifying any trends).

 

Nancy asked if the Board would be able to see the acquisition and development cash flow reports more often and what frequency would be reasonable.

 

Lori said it should be reasonable to present quarterly updates of the acquisition and development cash flow.

 

Gary said a monthly update of the Capital Construction Projects for Parks and Open Lands can be provided.

 

K-Lynn said a quarterly update of the acquisition and development cash flow is sufficient, but the capital construction spreadsheet should be more often as these figures are rapidly changing.

 

Nancy added she wants transparency and to be alerted when any unexpected changes occur, specifically shortages.  It would be beneficial to learn of changes as soon as they happen and to receive a report showing the changes.

 

Peter noted the Board does not discuss revenue very often and it is important with the elections coming up during the next few years. Lori said the Division is working on reporting the revenue aspect as a whole.

 

Deb expressed it takes a lot of time to prepare to present the Capital Construction Projects budgets and the spreadsheet is constantly changing.

 

Nancy recommended the capital construction budget be sent as an enclosure to the monthly packet and asked whether or not it was necessary for Deb to always present the material. Deb said this would be worth trying.

 

Jim added the Open Lands Board does not want to miss anything important, especially as the time approaches to go back to voters. He suggested compiling a packet with all of the budget information, including bulleting key points and any major shifts.

 

  • Questions/comments regarding the Capital Construction Projects for Parks and Open Lands projects. – Deb Wykoff, Administrative Manager

Deb presented a detail review of her presentation in February (see February 28th minutes) including funding sources for each project, explaining their limitations and how funds are presently allocated in 2008.

Points expanded upon from last month include the following:

a)  Park Operations 2008 beginning fund balance is currently around $700,000; some of these funds will be used to supplement lottery money on construction projects and will be reimbursed at the end of the year. These funds can only be used for operations and improvements at the four reservoirs. Approximately, half of the Park Operations fund balance is scheduled to be used in 2008 to temporarily supplement project costs at Carter Lake Marina. These expenditures must be repaid at year-end and conserved for future years.

b)  Project expenses at Carter Lake Marina and at Hermit Park are being tracked monthly, by revenue source.  All changes to these budgets will also be documented.

c)  Deb explained the format of this month’s handout which outlines the construction schedules from 2008 – 2010. She noted that beyond 2008 projects for the Open Lands Program are not yet included. Several GOCO projects are scheduled at the reservoirs during the next three years.

Changes since February include:

1) Horsetooth Camper Services projects were originally budgeted at $180,000 to $244,000, but are now budgeted at $421,000 each.  Utilities were budgeted at $20,000, but will cost around $100,000.  The buildings were budgeted at $140,000 each; however the bids came in at $350,000 each.  These buildings will be handled in-house by Todd Juergens, County engineer, to save around $50,000 per project.   The camper services building at South Bay is scheduled for 2008; the Inlet Bay camper services building is scheduled for 2009.

2)  The total budget for the Carter Lake Marina has increased from $1.57 million to $2.69 million, including a 15% contingency.  The Marina building was originally budgeted at $600,000; the contract price is $1,265,983.  Road and site work budget has been increased from $800,000 to $1.2 million. Trenching in bedrock was harder then expected to be.  A separate residence for the concessionaire was also added to the project, increasing the tentative budget from 100,000 to 200,000 but this may change when actual costs are known. Todd Juergens, County engineer, is reviewing the budget to provide realistic estimates of all cost components.

The orange column indicates a loan which is estimated to be nearly $1.2 million over three years. These funds will be used on GOCO projects and on the Carter Lake Marina. She added these figures may change as “hard” numbers are figured. The loan would be repaid with future Lottery proceeds. Gary added he is exploring the option of requesting a loan from Solid Waste with a 4% interest rate, repaying it in four to five years. The total accrued interest is anticipated to be approximately $100,000.

Bob asked what will happen if the Department does not get the loan and whether project costs at Hermit Park will still be split in-half between the Parks and Open Lands programs.

Gary said he feels confident the loan will come through and yes the project costs at Hermit Park will continue to be split.

Nancy asked if the Department can cut back and not do all of the construction. Gary said this option has been considered, but it would result in either Hermit Park not opening this year or the Carter Lake Marina project being left incomplete.

Peter asked Gary why the cost estimates are so far off. Gary replied the figures were calculated and once the work began the project hit unexpected rock, resulting in inflated costs. Additionally, the kitchen in the marina has to meet specific codes regulated by the Health Department, meeting these codes is driving the cost up too. Essentially, Connell Resources has an open bid with the County; staff has spent two days negotiating the present project figures, which should represent more accurate and real costs of the project.

 

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

Gary said talks are continuing regarding the management of the Mountain Pine Beetle in Larimer County. Presently, four collection sites throughout the County are being considered and should be established by May 15th. Several management methods for disposing of trees are being considered including: 1) debarking the wood before the beetles fly, biomass incinerators (i.e. CSU) and vendors who would move the trees from the collection sites. There is concern the Mountain Pine Beetle will move into communities such as Fort Collins, attacking Australian Pines and other ornamentals.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  (24-6-402(4) (a) C.R.S. Purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest. Jim moved to go in to Executive Session at 8:37 pm, Bob seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Bill P.. The motion was seconded by Ben and carried unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at 8:49 pm.

 

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