Loveland Bike Trail
 

LARIMER COUNTY OPEN LANDS ADVISORY BOARD MEETING

MINUTES

Thursday, August 26, 2004 – 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

Jean Carpenter

Peter Kast

Sue Sparling

Eric Hamrick

Ted Swanson

Bob Streeter

Bill Newman

Jim White

 

Staff

Jerry White

Kerri Rollins

Meegan Flenniken

Gary Buffington

K-Lynn Cameron

 

 

Absent: 

Lori Jeffrey-Clark

Duane Pond

 

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

 

Eric Hamrick motioned to approve the minutes of July 22, 2004.  The motion was seconded by Brian Hayes.  K-Lynn proposed change in discussion item regarding user fees, user fees were not delayed, but rather taken off the table.  Minutes were unanimously approved as amended.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

§  Welcome of Ted Swanson, new OLAB member.

§  “The Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains Project” a partnership of Larimer County, Ft. Collins and TNC has been submitted to GOCO.   Field trip with GOCO is scheduled for 9/.

§  Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space – Travis Rollins is the newly hired Fossil Creek manager and will assume that role October 1st, 2004.

§  The Habitat Conservation Plan was approved by the USFWS and we’ve received our permit to begin construction of the trailhead, trails, bridge replacement and other amenities on site.

§  2004 Colorado Open Space Alliance (COSA) Conference “Preserving and Managing Open Space from our Roots to our Future” – will be held September 16 and 17 in Boulder.  The Open Lands Program will pay the registration fee for any OLAB members wishing to attend. (see enclosure)

§  Small Grants Program applications are now available online – www.larimer/parks/openlands.org  Applications are due Dec 16th.

§  2004 monitoring summary of the Small Grants Program.  See enclosure

§  Ann Montoya was a featured guest on Channel 16 – Estes Park to talk about our Education Program and Vounteer Naturalists.

§  City of Fort Collins and Larimer County – Management of Open Lands on jointly owned properties: K-Lynn and John Stokes initiated this discussion on July 27th.    On a staff level Larimer County will continue to cooperate and coordinate management.  In the future we will look at more formal ways Larimer County can cooperate to share management.  One option could include that each entity’s rangers can enforce regulations on each other’s open spaces, however there are some potential legal issues to work through.

§  Field trip held to Carter Lake on July 23, 2004.  Gary, Sue and Jean attended and looked at all the existing facilities and activities in place.  OLAB members were impressed by how busy the area was despite the weather.  If anyone would like to do a tour of any of the reservoirs, Gary would be willing to set up future field trips.

§  Open Lands Board Annual Picnic was held at Chimney Hollow on July 31st. A good time was had by all!

§  Contact information for the Open Lands Board as of June 2004 has been updated.

§  Guided hikes for September were handed out.

 

Discussion Items

§  Parks and Open Lands Education Plan Draft – postponed until next month

§  Devil’s Backbone Open Space Management Plan draft

Meegan Flenniken, Resource Specialist, presented the draft updated Devil’s Backbone Management Plan.  Public meetings were held on May 26th and August 16th.  Meegan reviewed maps showing the existing trails as well as important natural resources, nesting areas etc. Peter asked about western public access points.  Meegan said discussions on a western access is being considered in Phase II of the plan.  She will need to continue working with homeowners associations on some public roads that are privately maintained.  Meegan reviewed the Indian Creek trail plan and their connection to Rimrock Open Space.  The management plan also addresses removal of trash and debris from the Indian Creek portion of the Devil's Backbone.  She has been working with NRCS on a possible grazing plan for Indian Creek, and separately, she will be working on some revegetation and refencing on the east side near the property boundary.  Ann Montoya will be developing the education plan for the property.  Bob asked if the subdivisions or neighbors have requested special access.  Meegan said she distributed the draft neighborhood access policy at the August public meeting but received few comments.  The policy will be given to the Board for adoption next month. 

 

Public comments received to date address the proposal of closing the western side of the 2 northern loops of the existing Devil's Backbone trail to mountain bikes.  Brian asked if we have problems with mountain bikers on the single track trails.  Meegan said Travis has reported that over 50% of use is from bikers and there has been some user conflicts.  Gary asked how the Board felt about horse patrols on the trail.  K-Lynn said we have been working with the Larimer County Horseman's Association to do volunteer patrols for this and possibly the Laramie Foothills property.  Some horse patrol will occur at Eagle's Nest when Charlie Gindler takes over management and can be assessed at that time.  Bob stated that we do not want to be in the business of buying and maintaining horses.  Meegan said she will be taking comments on the draft plan through mid September.  The public can comment via our web site, or by calling or emailing Meegan directly.

§  Memorial Policy – Eric, Bill and Jim volunteered to meet as a subcommittee to discuss the idea of a memorial policy on our open lands.  The subcommittee will make a recommendation to the Board at the September meeting.

 

ACTION

§  Red Mountain Ranch – Mark, Brian and Jim intend to sign up for one of the upcoming site visits.  Jerry reviewed the attributes of this 13,500-acre property.  The Open Lands Program has a contract for the Colorado portion of the ranch, with The Nature Conservancy protecting the 1,818 acres that lie in Wyoming.  There will be three concurrent closing to be able to complete this acquisition. 

 

Red Mountain Ranch is adjacent to the city's Soapstone Ranch, purchased earlier this year.  It is currently estimated that the northern 5,000 acres of the ranch will be open to the public.  This acreage connects to the Soapstone Ranch and it is estimated that there will be 30 miles of trail within and connecting the two properties.  Closing is scheduled for December 17, contingent on a GOCO grant.  Purchase price ranges between $640 and $705 per acre, based on an appraisal.  We are estimating $693 per acre.  As part of the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains project, we have asked GOCO for $7.8 million towards this project element. 

 

K-Lynn said that when the motion is made, it must include the possibility of trading the fee land (after a conservation easement has been placed on it) for a conservation easement on adjacent lands. Jean asked if we had considered retaining the entire property to lease for agriculture.  K-Lynn said that is not a direction we are pursuing because of costs of managing such a large property.  Bob said we have already set a precedent at Devil's Backbone and Eagles Nest to use grazing as a management tool.  He said that since we are currently intending to lease the upper 5,000 acres for grazing we could manage the entire property in a similar fashion.  K-Lynn said the upper 5,000 acres will be managed that way because we plan for public access in that area. 

 

A trade of the encumbered 8,500 acreage on the southern portion of Red Mountain Ranch would be contingent on finding a willing landowner to trade with.  Peter said he would like a formal discussion of the trade or sale before it happens.  Mark would like to see the terms of the conservation easement before it is finalized.  K-Lynn said the Board should be careful about restrictions they might add to the negotiation process because that could tie Jerry’s hands and result in a deal breaker.

Eric moved to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners the purchase of the Red Mountain Ranch contingent on approval of GOCO funding, recognizing that any future land sales or trade of portions of this property will contain conservation easements.   Jim seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

§  Sylvan Dale Ranch –Jerry reviewed this 220-acre conservation easement donation.  Meegan said that ecologically this is the most significant portion of the ranch.  Bob clarified that the conservation easement prohibits any buildings, moss rock, mining, cell towers, junk yards etc.  It also limits grazing.

Eric motioned to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners to accept this 220-acre conservation easement donation of the Sylvan Dale Legacy ranchlands.  Jim seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

 

§  User fees – K-Lynn said that we are currently setting aside 30% of our sales tax dollars for management of our open lands.  She distributed a letter that was mailed to all participants of the public user-fee meetings to let them know we will be discussing tonight the charging of user fees for open lands that are adjacent to existing parks.  Regular parks fees will apply because these parcels will be managed as a part of the adjacent park.  Currently parks fees are $6 daily and $65 for an annual pass. In the future when these types of parcels (those adjacent to existing park lands) come to the Board for acquisition approval it will be made clear that fees will be charged. 

Eric moved to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners that the existing and future open space areas that are connected to and managed as part of the existing parks will require a user fee.  Mark seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

 

Director’s Report

See written summary provided by Gary in your packet.  Gary described a new proposal at the north dam of Horsetooth Reservoir.  This area would be approximately ½ mile from the Satanka boat ramps.  The Horsetooth North Campground project proposal will add an additional 36 campsites and a day use picnic and recreation area.  Currently, there are 125 campsites at Horsetooth Reservoir, which does not meet the full capacity of the area.  The proposal also includes a regional trail, connecting into the City of Ft. Collins Campeau Ridge Natural Area, that will pass through the east side of the campground.  Some fencing will be done along the Hansen Feeder Canal for safety purposes.  A public meeting was held in mid-August and a second meeting will be held to ensure that all neighbors are invited to comment on this proposal. 

 

Gary also discussed the Department name in reference to last month's discussion.  Heeding feedback from the Board, he has decided not to pursue the name Natural Resource Department.  He made a new suggestion of  "Park, Open Space and Land Stewardship Department".  Sue said she liked "Open Lands" instead of "Open Space" and Mark agreed and said Open Lands and Land Stewardship would then be redundant and "Land" should be dropped in front of "Land Stewardship".

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  7:05 Bob moved to go into Executive Session.  The motion was seconded by Sue.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Eric.  The motion was seconded by Sue and carried unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.

 

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