Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

LARIMER COUNTY OPEN LANDS ADVISORY BOARD MEETING

MINUTES

Thursday, September 23, 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

Lori Jeffrey-Clark

Ted Swanson

Bill Newman

Jim White

Duane Pond

 

 

Staff

Jerry White

Kerri Rollins

Meegan Flenniken

Gary Buffington

K-Lynn Cameron

Charlie Johndon

Travis Rollins

Tom Bender

Ann Montoya

 

 

Absent: 

Sue Sparling

Eric Hamrick

Bob Streeter

 

Chair, Peter Kast called the meeting to order at 5:13 p.m.

 

Brian motioned to approve the minutes of August 26, 2004; seconded by Jim. Minutes were unanimously approved.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

§  Conservation easement workshop session will be held before next board meeting from 3-430 on 10/28 at the Loveland Library MP Room, and an easement monitoring session will be held on 10/29 from 3-5:15 at Sylvan Dale but meeting at K-Mart parking lot in Loveland.

§   “Landowner Appreciation Breakfast” on Saturday, October 2 from 9:00 to 11:00 at the Loveland Library Multipurpose Room.

§  Ackerman Conservation Easements closed on September 15, 2004.

§  “The Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains Project” GOCO Board site visit Friday, September 24.

§  Media tours - K-Lynn and Kerri took the Coloradoan and the Reporter Herald to visit the Laramie Foothills project site.

§  Meegan updated the Board on the following facility development projects:

§  Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space: Mark your calendars for the Grand Opening, Saturday, October 23 from 10:00-12-00 noon

§  Soderberg Trailhead and Inlet Bay Trail - Inlet Bay Trail is 90% completed and Soderberg Trailhead planning is on track, construction to begin in October.

§  Pleasant Valley Trail Phase II

§  Eagle’s Nest Open Space - Now that final approval of the Habitat Conservation Plan has been given by the USFWS, the trail crew has started building the new trails.

§  Devil’s Backbone Open Lands Ranger interviews will be held September 30.

§  2004 Colorado Open Space Alliance (COSA) conference – “Preserving and Managing Open Space from our Roots to our Future” held in Boulder on September 16 and 17.  Board members who attended (Jean and Brian) were impressed with the sessions, speakers  and turnout.

§  User fees adopted by the County Commissioners limited to Open Spaces managed as a part of a Parks funded recreation area which includes Ramsay-Shockey, Hughey and Soderberg open spaces only.

§  Open Lands Board Alumni lunch held on August 27, 2004.  Milan, Nancy, Kathay, Peter, and Merrill attended.

 

ACTION:

§  Election of Officers – Chair and Vice Chair

Jim motioned to nominate Peter Kast as Chair of the Open Lands Advisory Board.  The motion was seconded by Mark and passed unanimously. 

 

Jean motioned to nominate Sue Sparling as Vice Chair.  The motion was seconded by Lori and passed unanimously.

 

§  Chimney Hollow Acquisition Final Review – Jerry described the location of Chimney Hollow as due west of Carter Lake.  It is between the Blue Mountain Bison Ranch 4100-acre conservation easement and Carter Lake.  It is a priority area of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (NCWCD) for their Windy Gap Firming Project.  They will purchase the eastern 1,600 acres and the County will purchase 1,847 acres on the western side.  Larimer County received a $950,000 Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant for the purchase of this property.  K-Lynn described the recreation aspects of this property.  After closing in mid November the County will offer public tours of the property starting in 2005.  NCWCD intends to build the reservoir in 2008-9 with an opening planned in 2010.  Our public access will happen at that time.  There will be non-motorized recreation, 10-12 miles of trail on our property and around the reservoir, possibly tying into the Carter Lake trails.  There will be a trailhead located at the north end of the property.    Jerry corrected a typo on page 5 of the final review.  Maintenance cost should be $401,000 per year not "per acre per year". Loveland will hold the conservation easement per GOCO requirements. 

Duane motioned to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners to purchase the 1,847-acre Chimney Hollow property for the amount of $3,641,999. Mark seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

§  Fonken Conservation Easement Final Review – Jerry reviewed this 100% donation of a 105-acre conservation easement on a property that is a total of 373 acres.  Dr. Fonken donates a portion each year to receive some benefits from tax credits.  This is located across from Poudre Park and adjacent to US Forest Service on two sides.  Dr. Fonken is interested in connecting this property to the Youngs Gulch trail in the future for public access.  Bill asked if Jerry has pursued asking for stewardship costs from Dr. Fonken for the property.  Jerry acknowledged that he could pursue this for the monitoring costs.

Bill motioned to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners to accept the 105-acre conservation easement donation. Jean seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

§  Devil’s Backbone Management Plan – Meegan reviewed the public process and adoption policy for this management plan.  Four members of the public provided comment.  As all developing management plans do, this plan had a technical advisory team with various user groups, including representatives of horseback riding, biking and hiking groups.  There were two public meetings, as well as presentations to the Fort Collins Natural Resource Advisory Board and the Loveland Open Lands Commission.  The draft plan has also been posted on our website since August as an additional way to accept public comment.  Development of the plan has entailed a 9 month planning process.

 

Meegan then reviewed maps of the area, the acreages and the historic and current recreational uses.  Jim asked if there will be dogs allowed on the regional trail.  Meegan said that the Rimrock open space will continue to prohibit dogs but the regional trail will allow them.  Trails will be signed at Rimrock notifying the public about the no dog regulation.  Meegan also noted that a short segment of the existing trail at the north end of the Devil's Backbone (the Hunter loop) will be closed to bikers to prevent looping.  A member of the public asked what “looping” was.  Travis said that the Hunter section of the trail is very technical and a challenge that many mountain bikers enjoy.  Many bikers continue to loop around the Hunter loop over and over again.  Meegan explained that about 50% of the use at Devil's Backbone is bikers and that the County is trying to provide a better balance to all users.  The member of the public suggested not closing a portion of the trail to bikers until a use pattern has been established.  He said they could be used differently when Indian Creek opens.  Meegan said it would be irresponsible of her not to address this issue, that has been well supported at other public meetings, while going through this plannin process.  Another member of the public agreed that we should not close the trail until we see if the use pattern continues.  He also noted that the western loop that is proposed to close is an easier trail than the portion proposed to be left open on the east.  As a middle-aged man he is uncomfortable riding this part as his level of skill is not good and he gets discouraged.  The public also commented that the western loop provides the best view.  He also pointed out that once Coyote Ridge is connected many may ride through the Devil's Backbone without looping.  K-Lynn and Travis attested that the views from the Indian Creek portion of the trail will provide equivalent or better views than the western portion of the loop.  The public commented he does not see a congestion or conflict problem with other users.  Travis responded that he is out there everyday and says that congestion is a problem, and the yielding to other users is also a problem.  By having this trail closure, the County anticipates that mountain bikers won't need to yield as much to hikers as they will be on the other portion of the loop.

 

Jim commented that he has biked the trail and it was tough to come down the steep hill and slow down enough to get around some tight curves at the bottom, especially if there was a hiker there.  He understands both views, and also sees that managing the resource and multi-use is important.  Meegan said the Devil's Backbone to Horsetooth connection will be completed at the end of 2005 or early 2006.  Meegan said the Technical Advisory Team did discuss other possibilities other than trail closure such as certain uses on different days of the week.  For example, Monday is mountain bike day.  The Team rejected the idea as often timing will not coincide with peoples needs, and questioned what would happen when the trail connects regionally.  Meegan said it is easier to put this proposal into action now, after this public review than to take it away later – perhaps requiring another public review process.  K-Lynn also commented that horse back riders and bikers will get the most use on the regional trail, where hikers will stay closer in to the trailhead.  Jean asked about the carrying capacity of the system.  Meegan said that that is being taken into consideration through the number of parking spaces at each trailhead.  We also use traffic counters and we will compare those after the new trail opens. 

 

The public commented that planning does not address the figure 8 connection overlap.  Taking away trail concentrates mountain bike use and it does not appear that has been taken into consideration.

 

Jim thanked Meegan for her work on gathering input on this plan.  Jim clarified that Diamond Peaks Mountain Bike Patrol (DPMBP) supports this trail closure.  Travis said rangers have been very proactive in educating bikers regarding natural area management and DPMBP educates users at trailheads and on the trail regarding multi-use, but the issue has only compounded since 2001 when the open space became available to bikers. 

 

Peter suggested waiting 3 months after the trail opens and see if it is a self solving problem.  Jim said it will be harder to take it away later on.  The public asked what kind of comments need to be heard to be able to open it back up again.  Ted said that if we close the trails we will never know if the problem would be self resolving if we continue with the trail closure, however he recognized that the problem will never go away and we should continue as planned.

Duane motioned to approve the plan as proposed with a review of the mountain biking trail closure issue in 6 months after the opening of the regional trail to see if the use pattern has changed and can be reevaluated.  Brian seconded the motion.  Duane, Brian, Lori, Bill, Ted and Mark supported the motion.  Jim, Peter and Jean opposed.  The motion passed six to three.

 

§  Neighborhood Access Policy – A draft of this policy was reviewed by the Board in August.  Since then Bob Streeter's comments have been included.  Meegan has not received any formal requests from neighbors currently, but this policy would address those requests.  Requests will be reviewed by staff’s Resource Stewardship Team, management staff and possibly this Board if necessary.  Bill asked if the HOA must be 100% unanimous or just consensus in making a neighborhood access request.  Meegan said consensus.  Bill asked if that could be made clearer in the text.  Mark said we should discourage these as much as possible from a management/ranger stance.  Peter said we need to make it clear that if an access is made, it’s a public access, but not one maintained by the County.  He also said if we don’t allow or provide for neighborhood access then we will have multiple social trails, which are also a management problem.  Duane asked on 2G if ½ mile is too close for another access.  Brian said we should leave that way as it gives us some flexibility.  Jim made a punctuation change.

Jim motioned to approve the neighborhood access policy as amended by Bill.  Ted seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

 

Discussion Items

§  Proposed Parks and Open Lands Education Plan (Draft) – Ann Montoya, Education Coordinator

Ann reviewed the handout that was included in the packet and the need for outlining the vision and role of the education program within the Department.  As her position was newly created, it was not clearly outlined what her duties as Education Coordinator would entail and what the desired outcomes were.   Peter asked how many volunteer naturalists we have.  Ann said we have about a dozen that are very, very active and about 40 that are somewhat active.  Gary said we have about 2,700 volunteers department-wide that are involved at some level.  Jean asked what availability teachers have to the program.  Ann said she has worked with many teachers/classes outside of the TEN (Teaching Environmental Science Naturally) program and has only turned away one group.  She said most teachers can't find the dollars needed for bussing, while the TEN program provides money for busses.  Jean asked what the use of Fossil Creek will be.  Ann said our intent is to provide education through interpretive signs, guided hikes/tours, birding activities, etc at Fossil Creek though the education plan does not address the use of school groups directly.

§  Proposal for Memorials on Parks and Open Lands – Subcommittee report by Bill Newman.

Bill reviewed the purpose of the subcommittee and the job they were tasked to do.  The subcommittee recommends that memorials, plaques, markers, displays etc., whether brought in or created should not be allowed in our open lands system.  Open Lands has a more natural settings than the Parks Program and memorial plaques would not fit in.  The subcommittee  also discussed that it was not feasible to use memorials as a fund raising device as there are not that many opportunities to provide for this.  The subcommittee recommended a policy similar to Rocky Mountain National Park that distributing cremation remains in a discrete location not near bodies of water might be allowed. 

 

 Director’s Report

A summary was enclosed in the September packet.  Gary asked if there were any questions regarding his enclosure.  Jim asked for an update on the Carter Lake situation.  Gary said he has asked the County Attorney for a new draft on licensing the marina concession and he continues to take input from the Board of County Commissioners and his supervisor Mark Engemoen.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  7:45 Duane moved to go into Executive Session.  The motion was seconded by Jean and passed unanimously.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Duane.  The motion was seconded by Jean and carried unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 p.m.

 

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