Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

 

Thursday, October 25, 2007 – 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

Sue Sparling

Jean Carpenter

Peter Kast

Bob Streeter

Nancy Wallace

Brian Hayes

Jim White

Ben Manvel

Bill Pinkham

 

Staff

Kerri Rollins

K-Lynn Cameron

Meegan Flenniken

Windy Kelley

Gary Buffington

Charlie Johnson

Glenn Gibson

Lori Smith

Jeffery Boring

 

 

Absent: 

Don Griffith

Bill Newman

 

Chair, Nancy Wallace called the meeting to order at 5:17 p.m.

 

Ben motioned to approve the September minutes.  Peter seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  The 3rd Annual Northern Colorado Birding Fair held on September 29th at Fossil Creek Regional Reservoir Open Space was a great success! Over 500 people visited the booths and participated in events throughout the day. Kerri, Windy, Travis and all the other folks involved did a great job organizing the event!

·  On October 11, a prescribed fire at Devil’s Backbone was successfully ignited for cheatgrass management purposes.  Meegan and Jeffrey did a great job facilitating this stewardship project!  See the enclosed article from the Reporter Herald.

·  The Land Trust Alliance Rally was held in Denver the first week in October.  The field trip we hosted at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch to ride horses and hike through the conserved portions of the ranch was a huge success for the 50 participants primarily from the East Coast.  K-Lynn and Meegan presented a session with Fort Collins on the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains Project. Additionally, Meegan, Peter Newman and Jim Wurz, both from CSU, presented an informative session on management zoning.

·  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 enclosure.

·  The Friends of Larimer County Parks and Open Lands had fundraising booths at the Whole Foods “CommUnity” day in Fort Collins and Boulder for Hermit Park Open Space on October 10th. Whole Foods donated a percent of proceeds from the day to Hermit Park. Over $10,000 was donated.

·  The Friends of Larimer County hosted two very successful volunteer days at Hermit Park Open Space on October 20th and 21st  working on trails, removing horse corral in a riparian area and creating a defensible space around the caretakers house.

·  The Volunteer Appreciation event was held on Saturday, October 20th at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.

·  On November 1st, we are offering a continuing education program entitled Conservation Easements, Appraisals and Tax Credits for Open Space and Agricultural Lands at the Lincoln Center from 8:00 to 2:00 pm.  See handout.

·  Hermit Park Open Space Update.

·  City of Fort Collins has contacted us regarding the annexation of Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space. The annexation should be completed by the end of this year. It is anticipated the City of Fort Collins will take over the management of the area in 2010.

 

BOARD COMMENT:

·  No comment.

 

ACTION:

·  Hermit Park Open Space Management Plan. 

Meegan noted the Hermit Park leadership team had an onsite meeting with the Estes Valley Land Trust since her last presentation of the plan to the OLAB. Although the intent of the plan did not change several details were reworked, they include: 1) the overflow parking area near the entrance station will now have a maximum capacity of 150 vehicles, 2) in exchange for reducing the expansion area west of the group-use area by approximately 21 acres a second pavilion and shower house can be built and 3) the proposed trail will be approximately half-a-mile shorter than originally proposed in accordance with the easement.

 

Bill moved to recommend the adoption of the Hermit Park Open Space Resource Management Plan by the Department Director, Sue seconded. The recommendation was unanimously accepted.

 

 

DISCUSSION:

·  Acquisition and Development Cash Flow for the Open Lands Program. See enclosures. Lori Smith, Senior Accountant

Lori reviewed the management fund sheets, discussing changes since the last update. She indicated the fund balance is lower resulting in a lower interest. Other adjustments include: 1) projected revenue from user fees at Horsetooth Mountain Park (HTMP) at $50,000 (assuming the Open Lands Program begins managing the park mid-2008), 2) under start-up costs there are capital cost (i.e. purchase of vehicles), in 2009 there was originally $26,000 this amount was reduced to $21,000, 3) in 2007 Hermit Park Open Space (HPOS)  has $75,000 for start-up costs (K-Lynn noted this amount includes salary for personnel prior to the opening of HPOS) and 4) in 2008 we will begin to allocate $110,000 towards the contingency fund, for security incase we over spend or money is spent unevenly throughout the year.

 

Lori explained the projected annual expense for 2007 was $979,546 and for 2008 is $1,046,589. In 2006 our projected annual expenses were $882,005; however our actual expenditure was $613,726. We anticipate we will come in a little below our projection in 2007 and 2008 too. To calculate the department’s projected budget, we use figures from the Department of Finance, which tend to be conservative.

 

Lori pointed out the programs balance in 2018 is ($185,055). Gary commented we can catch-up if management costs come out lower than projected. Lori agreed and added the situation can change by the end of this year, reminding everyone the projected figures are conservative.

 

·  Prioritization Exercise to identify acquisition and development priorities for 2008-2012.  See enclosures and complete the prioritization exercise prior to Board meeting on October 25.

K-Lynn explained the exercise and noted the process will help the Open Lands Program to prioritize acquisition and development projects from 2008 – 2012 and to identify areas of highest priority. Board members explained why and how they prioritized the varying projects.

 

·  Land Conservation Ballot Measures.  Nissa Maddox, Trust for Public Lands.

Nissa explained the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) is primarily a real estate transaction organization which helps communities to realize their dreams and implement their visions. They began in Colorado Springs in 1996 and have assisted communities throughout the country. TPL has provided outside technical assistance on over 30 measures. Their expertise is to help identify what agencies and voters want as well as voter tolerance, to provide outside perspectives and offer guidance.

 

Nissa discussed an important legislative changes, 1) Senate Bill 98 – Open Space Sales Tax exemption. Considering this change is very helpful when considering ballot measures. Additionally, all of the facts need to be accumulated such as: establish a budget, identify source of finances, recognize debt, number of voters, how voters view your program and the language they use. Once the facts are gathered they can be compiled and reviewed to create a strategic campaign plan. As you begin to better understand voters you determine whether to have the sales tax as a ballot initiative or as a referendum and identify which election year to go to the voters.

 

Two key components for any measure are 1) identify voters and how they view your cause and 2) what is the ballot language. Nissa suggested instead of extending the tax (i.e. prior to the tax sun-setting) it may be beneficial to put a percent on the ballot for as long as you need the tax. She explained then you ask for a tax decrease, because you have acquired most if not all the land you can, your primary cost is now management of these lands. She noted to maximize flexibility by not limiting where the funds can be spent (i.e. acquisition or management) and share backs are an option, but not necessary. Another idea Nissa discussed is proposing to pass your tax into perpetuity; again a survey would be essential to understand how voters view the program.

 

Nissa noted 2008 will be a good voting year with an anticipated high number of young voters and with the end of terms for local electives. She also added if the Open Lands Program wants to go back to voters in 2008 the Board of County Commissioners have until August of that year to add a referendum to the ballot. Voter turn-out is 2010 is projected to be high too due to several federal issues coming-up. The prep work for going back to the voters is an estimated $15 – 18 thousand dollars. The survey is administered over the phone with registered voters to find out how they feel about conservation in general, from developing the survey to producing its results will take about two months.

 

·  Transfer of Horsetooth Mountain Park to the Open Lands Program.

Gary noted during the last Parks Advisory Board meeting the transfer of Horsetooth Mountain Park (HTMP) from the Parks Program to the Open Lands Program was addressed. Discussion took place on how the transfer would affect funds for the Open Lands Program and the process for transferring HTMP to the Open Lands Program. He noted HTMP would be able to receive a greater amount of care under the Open Lands Program with an increased budget of $30,000 per year. This increase would enable the County to provide additional patrol, trail maintenance and other needs to bring HTMP up to the same standards of the County’s other open spaces.

 

Gary explained $100,000 of the present budget for HTMP comes from general funds. The County Commissioners have asked the Parks Program what they will do if they no longer receive funding from the general fund. This would be a significant stress on the Parks Program. Lori pointed out that fees generated from the reservoirs can not be used at HTMP in accordance with the lease between Larimer County and the Bureau of Reclamation. Glenn added that in 2014 the County will loose $20,000,000 due to taxes sun-setting. The Commissioners are trying to be proactive and create plans for the future.

 

Gary continued by explaining if the transfer does not occur, trails will be left unmaintained and revenue will decline due to no gate attendant. Both issues are a great concern particularly for the area’s natural resource values. HTMP is heavily used and the quality of the natural resources will be jeopardized without increased management.

 

The following is a synthesis of the Advisory Board’s thoughts regarding the transfer of HTMP from the Parks Program to the Open Lands Program. Bill P. – We need to do what we can to provide a quality facility to the public, it is important to capture the financial aspect of the transfer. He noted it is important for us to sustain the infrastructure we already have. This may require us to give-up purchases in the future. Ben agreed with Bill. We need to make sure the public is safe on the trails. He thinks we need to increase the capacity of the Volunteer Program to have more volunteers doing trail maintenance and daily presence to assist users. He noted we need to do this, but it bothers him to use funds from the Open Lands Program. In the end he can go either way. Sue expressed being nervous about the transfer, particularly with the current budget. She expressed the park is very important and we need to look at this opportunity carefully. She is unsure if the transfer is the right thing to do. Peter said he thinks of in terms of prioritization, he thinks of HTMP as one of the most local properties in the County. He is in favor of the transfer, even if it costs the Open Lands Program some money. We are at a point in the program where we can forgo opportunities to take care of properties we already have. Jean said she is not in support of the transfer. She thinks it is not in-line with what the voters voted. She explained the voters did not vote to pay for the Open Space Program to take over park properties. Bob noted HTMP is highly used and very important to the public. He thinks it should remain as a park, however, if it is transferred the proposed expenditures should be reduced. He thinks by investing more money we are encouraging more use, he does not support this idea. He promotes the idea of using more volunteers. Ted expressed being in support of the transfer. He thinks it is important to maintain the property and to consider what the public will think of using funds from the open space sales tax for management of HTMP. He did not know whether leaving the name or changing it to Horsetooth Open Space would matter. Jim said presently he does not support the transfer for the same reasons already noted. He added this is a lot of money and we need to think it through. Brian said he is in favor of the transfer. It would help to simplify the funding of the park, even if the Open Lands Program has to provide the funds. Nancy said she is in favor of the transfer. Primarily the resources would receive better management. She thinks the County Commissioners need to make it clear to the public that there is no money for the management of the park. She thinks we will be able to explain the transfer to the public when we go back to the voters. HTMP is significantly used; it would be a tragedy to see it degrade. K-Lynn noted we have talked about the transfer for the past two years. HTMP is an area we have and we need to take care at the same level as the rest of our open spaces.

 

Gary ended by noting he and K-Lynn are in support of the transfer of HTMP from the Parks Program to the Open Lands Program.

 

·  Planning Department requested comments on their policy for a Wind Energy Facility.

K-Lynn asked for a subcommittee to form and review the Planning Department’s proposed policy for a wind energy facility. Bob and Bill P. will serve on this subcommittee. Comments from the board must be submitted by November 14th.

 

DIRECTORS REPORT:

None.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION: (24-6-402(4) (a) C.R.S. Purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest.  Ted moved to go in to Executive Session at 7:18 pm, Bill seconded and the motion carried unanimously.  7:29 Bill and Peter out of session. Ted 810 to move into session and Jean seconded.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Ted.  The motion was seconded by Brain and carried unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:16 pm

 

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