Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, June 10, 2008, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 W. Oak St., Ft. Collins, CO

 

Text Box: The mission of the Larimer County Parks and Open Lands Department is to establish, protect, and manage significant regional parks and open lands, providing quality outdoor recreational opportunities and stewardship of natural resource values.  We are committed to fostering a sense of community and appreciation for the natural and agricultural heritage of Larimer County for present and future generations.

Present:

Parks Advisory Board Members:

Linda Knowlton, Chair

Rob Harris

Ivan Andrade

Tom Miller

Frank Cada

Chad LaChance

Dave Coulson

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

 

 

Staff

Gary Buffington

 

Mark Caughlan

 

Dan Rieves

 

Debra Wykoff

 

Lori Smith

 

Absent: 

Randy Eubanks, County Commissioner

Rich Harter

Russell Fruits

 

 

The June 10, 2008, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton at 5:45 p.m.  The minutes of the May 13, 2008, meeting were approved.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – NONE

 

GENERAL INFORMATION: 

§  The OLAB and PAB picnic is scheduled for Saturday, June 14, at Red Mountain Open Space.  RSVP to Windy Kelley, 619-4534, or wkelley@larimer.org by June 6, please!

§  The Education Coordinator position was filled. Congratulations to Rob Novak.

§  Larimer County and the City of Fort Collins are partnering to submit a one time grant opportunity to GOCO for trail and trailhead development at Red Mountain and Soapstone Natural Area.

§  About a dozen employees of Agilent Technologies volunteered to clean and prepare camper cabins at Hermit Park on Friday, May 2.

§  Friends of Larimer County hosted a volunteer day at Hermit Park Open Space on May 3.They finished cleaning camper cabins, weeded the volleyball courts and removed the horseshoe pits and bird boxes.

§  Hermit Park campsite and camper cabin reservations opened on May 10.

§  Open Lands’ staff visited Boulder County May 12 to visit and learn about the different frameworks they are using to incorporate “Community Supported Gardens/Agriculture” into their open space program.

§  The “Every Drop Counts” shrub planting along the Pleasant Valley Trail on April 26 was a success. The event had 50 volunteers from Anheuser-Bush and 550 shrubs were planted.

 

BOARD COMMENT – Items not on the agenda:

Barry Lewis:  He noticed in the informational notes that the horseshoe pits were removed at Hermit Park; will those be replaced?  And if so, where?  He would like to see those replaced.  (Gary will check with Hermit Park Manager Chris Fleming.)

 

Linda Knowlton:  She is pleased that Rob Novak got the position of Education Coordinator – she has heard positive comments from volunteer naturalists and other people who have worked with Rob.

 

ACTION ITEMS:

1.  Big Thompson River Public Access Areas

Board member, Dave Coulson, prepared a draft of the Evaluation Criteria suggested by the Board during discussion at a previous meeting.  This document was reviewed, and discussion followed:

 

Board comment:

§  The Board has recommended to the Commissioners already that certain parcels be retained in perpetuity.  How does the Board get this recommendation acted upon – do the deeds need to be changed? (Gary:  As Director, Gary would make that recommendation to the BCC; however, he has a concern about funding to manage the additional three parcels which are not currently open to the public.)

§  The Board needs to know how much it costs to manage these areas.  Then what?

§  Larimer County already owns the properties and has for the past 25 years.  That status does not change unless specific action has been taken.  Over 20 years, there has been little funding for these properties.  This status should continue.  The properties should be signed, identified as County properties, and protected from encroachments, but not actively managed beyond that level.

§  It is good to have a well-framed set of guidelines to apply when appropriate. He likes these clear criteria.

§  Ref.: (4) under item 3): At Glade Park, there are some conflicts already.  There are always conflicts between private owners and publicly owned property.  If this is a black and white criteria, then all public properties would be thrown out.

§  That is intended to be a general guideline- not a rigid black or white rule.

§  Questions the inclusion of potential liabilities as a criterion – the County already has the liabilities, which are not avoided by withholding the properties from public use.  Also, if any other agencies are available to manage these properties, he would like to know who they are.

§  How does the Board evaluate criteria in which they are not expert?  (Mark Caughlan:  Staff would research these items and report to the Board.)

§  These criteria would be used by staff to develop a report on a property for the Board’s consideration.

Public comment

Dallas Maurer, Big Thompson River neighbor:  I think this is great!  This is an ideal way to determine what is going on with some of this stuff and get rid of the perceived notions that this is the last spot in the world to access the river.  I welcome this.  I like the criteria.

Leroy Rady, Big Thompson River neighbor:  “So the weeds grow, so be it,” says one Board member.  Last weekend, Mr. Rady went out and mowed the weeds, which are now knee-high.  He’s going to send Gary a bill for gas at $4 per gal.  He saw lots of cigarette butts, which are a wildfire hazard.  It is not acceptable for the County to continue “benign neglect” of these properties.  The County must meet its responsibilities.

Cherie Strough:  Thinks these criteria are great.  Six months ago, Charlie Johnson told them he would have an answer for them in 3 months whether they could purchase the property.  These criteria make it clear that they should be able to do so.  There is no reason for further delay.

 

Walt Graul, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Retired: 

§  One County Commssioner told him that the key criteria should be what the public wants.  He doesn’t see one indication that the public desire is being considered.  That should be one of the criteria. 

§  On the financial aspects, there should be consideration of whether there is potential for solving the problem.  It would be preferable to assess a fee if necessary rather than getting rid of the parcels.

§  There was another article yesterday in the Loveland paper – that makes 10.  Gary was quoted as saying the people need to trust their public servants.  The reason we’re here and that Larimer County has a Board is to enable citizens to have some interaction and to participate in these decisions. 

§  Gary stated that it may take up to 9 years total to resolve some of these.  What is it we don’t know right now to make a decision?  That should be identified and addressed.  Don’t drag it out.  Credibility declines as this controversy continues unresolved.

 

Robert Towery, resident of Larimer County: 

§  His interest is primarily those properties in the riparian areas.  Some of the criteria seem inappropriate in this context, based on other County rules, etc. 

§  He assumes the archeological/historical issue has already been addressed when the LWCF restrictions were removed.  If this is not the case, then a much larger issue looms before us.

§  He appreciates the problem of finding operating funds, but those are ever-present.  Don’t sell a valuable asset due to lack of funding.

Text Box: Rob Harris moved that the Board adopt the criteria as proposed; Ivan Andrade seconded the motion.  Discussion followed (below.)  Two amendments to the motion were accepted:

Frank Cada proposed an amendment to the motion, which Rob Harris accepted, to add the following criterion to the list:  Are there volunteer organizations available, or which could be developed, which could fund and/or provide assistance toward maintenance of the properties.

Dave Coulson proposed that the motion be amended to include the following language under bullet one:  What public input has been received to date?  Rob Harris accepted this amendment.

The motion passed as amended.

Board discussion:

Ivan Andrade:  These criteria do not preclude other criteria.  If some other criterion becomes significant for one or all parcels, like preserving the riparian corridor, that may also be considered.  (Gary:  Tonight we’re approving these; we could amend them later.)

 

Linda Knowlton:  Maybe there could be other funding options like volunteers.

 

Frank Cada:  Add ‘potential for volunteers to assist’ as a bullet under the funding item.  There is good technology for fee collection.  He would like to consider future funding possibilities and not eliminate a good property solely because it isn’t possible to collect fees now.

 

Tom Miller:  We should make a decision sooner rather than later as to what we will ultimately do about properties now before us.  Add as criterion #8:  Is there a strong public cry to retain this property – assess what the public wants.

 

Linda Knowlton:  How do you evaluate “what the public wants?”  That’s very difficult to determine.

 

Rob Harris:  It seems like these criteria are intended to help the public assess these properties to determine what they do want.

 

Tom Miller:  Change the wording from ‘existing’ to ‘potential organizations which could be developed.’

 

Chad LaChance:  The public doesn’t know what parcels are being discussed.  Could these key parcels be signed as “under public consideration,” with a set period for public comment, like there is for zoning changes?  Could the public have an opportunity to comment before properties are offered for sale?  “The people” don’t know the facts – when you see the parcels, it makes more sense why some should be sold.  He is getting tons of mail and email comments from people on this issue.

 

Rob Harris:  The approved process for sale of parcels requires a 60 day public comment period.  Could this be done during that time?  He agrees that posting a notice on the property at the start of the public comment period would be excellent, but that is not a criterion to be included on this list.  (Gary is thinking about how the property lines would be designated, etc., to make this workable.  He is also concerned about the effect on staff time.)

 

Text Box: Barry Lewis moved, and Chad LaChance? seconded, a motion that the Board accept the staff recommendation to allow staff to continue to work diligently to evaluate these parcels and to bring proposals to the Parks Advisory Board for recommendations to the County Commissioners without specific, unwarranted deadlines.  Motion approved.

Board discussion:

Frak Cada:  There has been a lot of negative publicity on this issue.  If we can go ahead and approve some of these parcels, that would be good – for example Area 20.  We could quickly deal with that.  He has concern about letting this drag out even further.  It’s been so many years and people feel like they need to get these things resolved.  There have been a lot of encroachments on some of the properties; there has been no enforcement by the Sheriff.  The longer that goes on, the more the people using it will feel entitled to it.  Drake is the most difficult area; but some of the others are simple by comparison, and could be resolved quickly.

 

Barry Lewis:  He would expect the process to move forward in a timely fashion.

Linda Knowlton:  All Board and staff agree, but it needs to be done in a responsible, deliberative way.  We shouldn’t try to impose deadlines on staff, especially during the very busy summer season.

 

Tom Miller:  There are five properties left of the original list submitted by the Loveland Fishing Club two years ago.  He would like to see the Board focus on those parcels as soon as we can.  We can certainly prevent a lot of burning arrows coming into the wagon train if we get it addressed.

 

Linda Knowlton:  The way to do that is to let staff know that those five parcels should be their priority.

 

Frank Cada:  He doesn’t want to interfere with the staff’s work.  How can the Board help?

 

Text Box: Tom Miller moved and Frank Cada seconded that the five remaining areas of the 12 areas identified by the Loveland Fishing Club, which have not already been acted upon should be staff’s priority to make a strong recommendation to the Parks Advisory Board (these parcels include some or all of the following: 12b, 12c, 3, 17, 20, 21a.)

Gary:  There is one parcel near Waltonia which is under consideration, and one other parcel on the north fork near Glen Haven.  He wants to add these 2, which have been worked on before the Board existed.  Recommendations on at least one of these two parcels will probably be presented at the July meeting.

2.  Northern Integrated Supply Project and Glade Reservoir

A subcommittee consisting of Chad LaChance and Russell Fruits prepared a list of the comments submitted by Board members.  Chair Linda Knowlton thanked Chad and Russ for their efforts.  Five Board members submitted comments.   Chad noted some shared skepticism about the accuracy of the information received during the presentation at the last meeting.  The comments are all over the board.  The Board had agreed to look at the recreational value, but some comments address other issues. Linda suggests that all comments be submitted to the Commissioners, rather than trying to forge a unified statement.  (K-Lynn Cameron, Open Lands Manager, stated that the Open Lands Advisory Board noted in their comments what information was lacking which was necessary to make a decision.)

 

Following discussion, below, it was agreed that Chair Linda Knowlton will craft a final document for submission to the County Commissioners.  Barry Lewis suggested that if there are any gems in the minutes of the last meeting which are not addressed in the summary prepared, those be added to the Board’s formal statement, in Linda’s discretion.

 

Board discussion:

Frank Cada:  The reduction of the higher flows would harm the fishery through Ft. Collins, because the higher flows are necessary to remove silt.

Chad LaChance:  That is not a natural trout fishery through there – it is 100% stocked, so the flow won’t affect that.

 

Frank Cada:  But it will affect insect populations, which in turn affects the fishery.

 


Chad LaChance: 

§  We should be looking at the overall recreation picture – not just fishing.  Even flows will help some types of recreation, and harm others.  But even the bike path harms natural habitat, so it’s all relative. 

§  It is unknown whether the NISP folks will really agree to flush the river – that cannot be assumed.

§  Some of the comments submitted by the Board are direct quotes from the presentations – remember that those folks were lobbying for their position, not stating facts.  We should not be restating those arguments as part of the Board’s statement.

§  An official of the Division of Wildlife said he was misquoted in the presentations heard at the last meeting.

 

Dave Coulson:  There are also inaccuracies in the information presented at the May meeting by both sides: 

§  It is not true that there will be fishable populations only 6 of 10 years. That statement by opponents of the plan is not documented.  There is a ‘dead pool’ storage capacity that is still fishable. Compare Horsetooth Reservoir, which continued to be fishable during the Safety of Dams project. 

§  It also not true that water will only be diverted during periods of peak flow. 

§  He is indifferent about the project – can’t see good reasons in favor or against.

Ivan Andrade: 

§  City of Fort Collins residents are Larimer County residents.  We collect taxes from them.  The quality of life in Ft. Collins and how it is tied to the Poudre will potentially be compromised by this project, to the detriment of the County at large.  If the quality of life in Fort Collins is impaired, General Fund revenues to the County may also be reduced.

§  These are passive corridors along the river – you don’t need special equipment to access it.  You can just stroll into the riparian environment.  How is the impact to that experience to be evaluated?

§  We won’t know the overall impact for many years.  The first rule of tinkering is to save all the pieces.  If we tinker too much, we won’t be able to put it back together.  In 15 years when the impact is known, the butterflies will be gone, and the lizards and various plant species, etc., will be missing.

Tom Miller: 

§  If the PAB focuses only on recreation, he will have to comment through another avenue. 

§  His concern is with the impact on population growth.  Population will grow, but we don’t have to throw gas on the fire.  It is a poor land ethic to encourage unlimited growth where the natural resources to support that growth are lacking.

 

PRESENTATIONS:

 

Open Lands: Acquisition & Development – Presentation by Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant.

 

Text Box: Rob Harris made, and Chad LaChance seconded, a motion that the Board go into Executive Session to discuss the Open Lands Cash Flow Statement.  This was necessary because Lori’s presentation included confidential information about certain proposed property acquisitions.  Following Lori’s presentation, Rob Harris made, and Chad LaChance seconded, a motion that the Board exit Executive Session.  Both motions were passed.


STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Park District Managers, Mark Caughlan and Dan Rieves

§  CAST Event had 32 kids participating.  It was a great event. 

§  Fuel is costing about 30% more this year for the department.  Boating is about half of normal.  Camping reservations are full, but folks make reservations far in advance.  This helps even out visitation and revenues.

§  Zebra mussels are the looming threat at the reservoirs.  Gary and Mark will be attending a meeting with the Bureau of Reclamation on Thursday which may address potential action to prevent or contain the spread of the infestation.

§  There was a suicide at Lions Park last week.

§  Final design for the Visitor Services buildings should be done at the end of this week.  We hope to start construction in August. 

§  Lee’s Cyclery has donated several bikes which will be used for patrolling campgrounds, to save on fuel costs.

§  The Carter Lake Marina is progressing well, as are the improvements at Hermit Park. 

§  There will be an update at the July meeting re: a proposed loan request for capital improvement projects.  Gary will be requesting Board comments on a proposal to the Commissioners.  Gary wants to get the Parks Master Plan projects on the ground quickly to generate additional revenues and show results to the public.  This is the reason that Gary considers the loan option to be worthwhile.

 

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

Appointments to Parks Advisory Board: 

Linda Knowlton, Ivan Andrade and Tom Miller have all agreed to serve another term of three years on the Board.  Mark DeGregorio was selected to fill the one vacant spot.  Mark has previously served on the Open Lands Advisory Board.  He is employed at Rocky Mountain National Park, and lives in Redstone Canyon.  So he brings the perspectives of landowners in the Horsetooth area, and also of the Estes Park area, replacing Kathy Palmeri, who represented the Estes area.

 

DISCUSSION ITEMS:  None

 

MEETING adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Debra Wykoff

 

APPROVED:

 

 

_________________________________

Chair
FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:

July 8, 2008:

§  Staff Recommendation:  Classification of scuba companies as short-term concessions – 30 min.

§  Staff recommends that all repetitive, commercial uses on department-managed properties (including scuba company operations) be classified as short-term concessions, subject to the department short-term concession policy, procedure and fees, effective January 1, 2009.

§  Public comment

§  Discussion and decision on staff recommendation.

To be scheduled:

§  Presentation by Northern Water (NCWCD)  about the Windy Gap Firming Project and Chimney Hollow Open Space– Jeff Drager, Project Manager, and Jill Boyd, Communication Specialist

§  Implementation update on Hermit Park Management Plan – Meegan Flenniken, Open Lands Specialist, and Chris Fleming, Hermit Park Manager

 

Next regular meeting: July 8, 2008, at the Bison Visitor Center, 1800 South County Road 31, Loveland, CO.

 

 

Enclosures:

Agenda for June 10, 2008, PAB meeting

Minutes of May 13, 2008, PAB meeting

Minutes of April 24, 2008, OLAB meeting

(Minutes of May 29, 2008, OLAB meeting are not yet available.)

Parks and Open Lands events for June.

Handouts:

Big Thompson Public Access - Proposed Evaluation Criteria

PAB Draft Response on NISP

Open Lands Cash Flow

 

Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks

 

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