Loveland Bike Trail
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, August 12, 2008, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Bison Visitor Center, 1800 South County Road 31, Loveland, 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

Russell Fruits

Ivan Andrade

Rob Harris

Frank Cada

Chad LaChance

Dave Coulson

 

 

 

Staff

Gary Buffington

Windy Kelley

Mark Caughlan

 

Dan Rieves

 

Debra Wykoff

 

 

 

Absent: 

Randy Eubanks, County Commissioner

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

Mark DeGregorio

Tom Miller

Rich Harter

 

 

 

 

The August 12, 2008, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton at 5:40 p.m.  The minutes of the July 8, 2008, meeting were approved.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – None (No members of the public were present.)

 

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • Update on Hermit Park Open Space.

§  Hermit Park Open Space Inaugural Year Celebration tentative date -September 13, 2008.

§  Kruger Rock trail completed!

  • Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) facilitated a large volunteer project to make repairs along the Horsetooth Falls Trail on Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and 27.
  • The 9th Annual COSA conference is in Estes Park this year September 15 - 17. Registration is posted on-line at www.coloradoopenspace.org. This year’s keynote speakers are: Author and Professor at the University of Idaho, Sam Ham and co-founder and President of Conservation Impact, Shelli Bischoff-Turner.
  • The 4th Annual Northern Colorado Birding Fair at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space is scheduled for Saturday, September 27. 
  • The Department will have booths at both the Fort Collins New West Festival (Aug. 16 – 17) and the Loveland Corn Roast (Aug. 23)

 

BOARD COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – None

 

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS: 

§  Public Works Communication/Leadership Team
Windy Kelley, Open Lands Technician, provided information about the newly formed Public Works Leadership Team, and the “Picture Public Works” project currently underway.

Public Works Director Marc Engemoen’s vision is to tell the story of the Public Works Division and the departments in the Division, and the people who work in the Division through pictures of Division employees engaged in their typical work activities.  That project is called “Picture Public Works – A Day in the Life of…”  These photos will be used for numerous purposes such as annual reports, websites, etc.

Future projects will include the development of annual reports and web pages for all of the Public Works departments.  Natural Resources is one of only two departments in the Division, which have an annual report.  It was originally created and produced by the Open Lands Program to report to the public about the Open Space Sales Tax.  Natural Resources also has an extensive web page.

 

ACTION ITEMS:  None

 

PRESENTATIONS:

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

    Jeff Drager gave a PowerPoint presentation about the project.  Natural Resources will manage the Chimney Hollow Open Space after the reservoir is filled.  The site is 3447 acres, located directly west of Flatiron Reservoir.  It will hold 90,000 ac.ft., with 900 acres of surface area when full.  Chimney Hollow will be bout 20% smaller than Carter Lake.

    The property was purchased by Northern Water and Larimer County from Hewlett Packard in 2004, for $7.8 million, including a $950,000 GOCO grant.  Northern Water owns the footprint of the reservoir; Larimer County owns the remainder of the property.

    It may take up to several years to fill the reservoir, once built. If it had been ready this year, it could have been filled in one year with excess Windy Gap water, because it was a good water year.  However, the municipalities which will be using the Chimney Hollow water won’t need it for several years – hence, the delay in building the project. 

    The Windy Gap water is separate from the Colorado - Big Thompson (C-BT) Project water, so won’t affect water levels at Horsetooth or Carter.  However, both projects will be using the same water transfer facilities, which may sometimes result in impacts to the C-BT reservoirs in terms of when and how much water is going where.  Windy Gap water has been coming across for 20 years, going to many of the same owners as the C-BT water.  However, since it is second in priority to the C-BT water, not all the available Windy Gap water is captured in Granby, because there is nowhere to store it over here, since it cannot displace C-BT water in the existing reservoirs.

    Modeling shows that the Chimney Hollow water will act as storage in wet years for use in dry years.  So Chimney Hollow is expected to sit untapped until dry years, when it may be pumped dry.

    A 25 year intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between Northern Water and Larimer County covers access to the property until it opens to the public in 2014.  Future recreation will include hiking, biking and equestrian trails and non-motorized boating; no camping will be permitted.  Water quality and security issues will define recreation allowed. 

    Currently, several public tours are scheduled each year.  The draft Environmental Impact Statement is scheduled to go out at the end of August.  Construction will occur between 2011 and 2014.  Water recreation may become available in 2015 or 2016.  Larimer County has already initiated resource management planning.

    Board comment:
  • Where is opposition expected to come from?  (Answer:  The majority will come from the western slope folks who are opposed to moving more water to the Front Range.  Because it is a Federal project, more public process is required.)
  • If Grand County beetle-kill pine forests should burn, what will be the effect on water quality? 
    NOTE:  This has not occurred; the possibility of a future fire is purely speculative.  (Answer:  It could be significant, if there were a large fire in the beetle-kill area.  The decay of dead pine needles significantly increases nutrients in the soil, which also affects water quality.)
  • What about the zebra mussels?  (Answer:  The impact of the mussels isn’t yet known – could improve water quality in some ways and damage it in others.)
  • How will Chimney Hollow be managed by the department?  (Answer:  The same in-house process as on other open space areas will be used for this – Hermit Park is a good example of a similar management process.  Horsetooth Mountain Open Space (HTMOS) is another example. Fees will be charged, and the area will be managed as an open space with low-impact recreation.  The Open Lands Program typically does a separate management plan for each open space area; but after it is turned over to the Park District, it is managed like other areas.)

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

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

  • There was a 2-day Volunteers of Outdoor Colorado (VOC) project to improve the trail to Horsetooth Falls at HTMOS.  It was a great job of rehabilitating the trail by department trail crew and VOC leaders and volunteers.  Permit revenue is up about 3% overall so far this year.  Fees were raised this year, which may account for most of that increase.
  • Revenues at Hermit Park are already within $1200 of our budgeted estimate for 2008 revenues.
  • Horsetooth Swim – This special event 10k swim (6.2 miles) is 10 years old this year.  65 swimmers participated.  There were also two shorter swims in conjunction with the event.  For each swimmer, there is a canoe or kayak assigned.  Dive Rescue is also on hand.
  • Water levels are dropping, as is normal at this time of year.  One ramp will be out of the water at Carter Lake before Labor Day.  Horsetooth is dropping six inches a day.
  • Mark explained that even with Chimney Hollow Reservoir, the capacity to move the water has not expanded.  So even though there may be more water available, there may not be capacity to bring it over.  This year, there was an unexpected breakdown, and water that should have gone to Horsetooth did not.

 

·  We have 17 weeks of recreation season during which to generate most of our revenue.  About $50,000 per week comes in during that time.  If we lose ramps early, that’s what we stand to lose.

·  Fire bans are another factor which impact visitation, almost as negatively as losing water.  People don’t come to camp if they can’t have a campfire.  Reservations are canceled.
NOTE:  NO fire restrictions are currently in effect for Larimer County.

·  Water delivery is the critical factor for Northern Water – they must be able to deliver water to their customers on demand.  That’s our insurance that they will put the water into the reservoir, regardless of any problems that pop up.

·  The shower house bids for South Bay and Inlet Bay at Horsetooth will be going out soon.

·  95 degrees F. is the magic number to get people out to recreate – when the temperature hits the mid-90’s, people come out and stay longer.

·  Group use reservations have surged this year.

·  Last weekend was the grand opening for the outdoor classroom at Devils Backbone.  It seats 45 people, and has already been used a couple of times. It was paid for through a memorial fund for a young man who was killed by lightning strike on Jefferson County’s open space.

 

Board comment:

·  At what point does water level affect revenues?  (Answer:  When the swim beach at Carter goes dry, day use revenue drops.  When the north ramp becomes difficult for larger boats, then slip customers must take their boats out, which reduces day use.  Public perception may equally affect it – negative press causes people to perceive that they can’t get a boat in, so they quit coming.)

 

Zebra mussel update: 

·  No independently operated reservoir in the C-BT system has restrictions on boating access.  We do not feel it is our position to put out mandates on boat inspections, etc.  We have developed an outreach packet with the Bureau of Reclamation for the public.  Strategies include signage, public education through handouts and ranger feedback at the boat ramps.  The department is also working with marina operators on the “clean, drain, dry” philosophy.  We have the authority to inspect and quarantine as needed.  But right now, mandatory inspections are not required.

·  Carter Lake tested positive for 24 hours; but then that test was thrown out.  This is really new testing technology, and no agency is completely confident in the accuracy of their testing process.

·  We have an excellent decontamination station right here at the shop for department boats.

·  Grand Lake tested positive for quagga mussels, which are the larger cousin of the zebra, and can survive down to 300 feet.  The zebra mussel can only survive in the top of the water column, so may not survive our fluctuating water levels.

 

Carter Lake Marina update:

·  The Carter Lake Marina store has opened.  Feedback has been very positive.  One local resident told our ranger that the new marina has motivated them to buy a slip next year.

·  The marina operators (the Waldburgers) seem very happy with the new facility.

·  The Grand Opening will be Labor Day weekend.

           

 


DIRECTOR’S REPORT: Monthly update to the Board – Natural Resources Director, Gary Buffington

 

Big Thompson parcel sale (Waltonia parcel)

§  The County Commissioners approved the PAB recommendation, and that parcel will be sold.

§  The next phase will be the area near Drake designated as Area 12c??  A surveyor will be hired to carve out the entire river, with several feet of public access on each side of the river.  Any residual land will be proposed for sale.  The adjacent landowners will get their pick of that land, for parking ,etc., with appropriate deed restrictions. 

§  Charlie Johnson, Land Agent for the department, is handling the process of identifying those parcels and determining values. 

§  Proceeds from the sale of 6 parcels will pay for the surveys, etc.

 

Board comment:

§  It reserves the river for fishermen and public access, and protects private property as well.  This is a great idea. 

§  It would be better for the County to retain ownership of all these parcels.  However, if the plan is pursued, then the residual pieces should be offered to adjoining property owners at full market value – not at bargain prices.  Private property which currently has no river access (i.e., separated from the river by a road and/or a County-owned parcel) may be transformed to river front property by acquisition of one of these residual pieces.  Such properties may experience a substantial increase in value as a result.  The public – not private landowners – should be the beneficiaries of any such windfall.

§  Have the Commissioners approved this plan?  (Answer:  No – it will come to the PAB first, after the surveys have been completed.)

§  Will the Commissioners see it before the election?  Since the current Board approved this process, and is familiar with the facts, it would be helpful to complete it with the current Board.  New commissioners could choose to re-examine the issue before committing to future disposal of parcels.  (Answer:  The timetable cannot be definitely determined at this point.)

§  This appears to be an improvement on the status quo, both for the property owners and for the public.

 

Bison Meeting Room photographs and map  

§  Gary pointed out the new framed photos and the enlarged map of our park and open spaces, which were selected and designed for display by Meegan Flenniken, department Resource Specialist.

 

S-Permits and Annual permits

§  As volunteers donating at least 20 hours of service during 2008, Board members are entitled to receive a limited use “S” permit.  However, Gary proposes to give the Board members free annual permits in 2009. 

 

Board comment:

§  The “S” pass is appreciated, but used only once.

§  The “S” permit (valid only on weekdays and during the off-season) doesn’t work for Board members who can only recreate on weekends.

§  It is necessary to purchase permits for boating, camping and weekend use anyway, so the “S” permit has little value to Board members who spend a lot of time at the reservoirs.

 


OLAB liaison from PAB

§  Gary asked if any PAB member wanted to volunteer to be the PAB liaison to the Open Lands Advisory Board (OLAB.)  There have been two OLAB liaisons to the PAB over the past year.  There were no immediate volunteers.

 

Election of officers

§  Will be scheduled for the next meeting. 

§  The Bylaws provide for this to occur in July of each year, which was inadvertently overlooked last month.

 

DISCUSSION ITEMS:

Reservoir Capital Improvement Projects – Loan Request – Gary Buffington

§  Gary reviewed the funding sources for the reservoir improvement projects, including the $1.7 million in Federal ADA funding from the Bureau of Reclamation and the $695,000, GOCO grant, all of which funds are required to be spent by 12/31/2010.

§  To take advantage of these funds, the Commissioners have approved an internal loan in the amount of $1.25 million from the Solid Waste Fund, to be used as matching funds on these projects, along with annual Lottery distributions.

§  Shower houses and full hook-up campsites will generate additional revenues.

 

Board comments:

§  What funds will be used to repay the loan?  (Answer:  Future year Lottery funds, Parks Fund future year revenues, and the $347,500, GOCO reimbursement, which will not be received until all the projects are completed.)

§  What return on investment in terms of additional revenues?  (Answer:  Refer to spreadsheet, attached.)

§  Has there been any negative comment from the public or the press about the loan?  (Answer:  No.)

 

FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:

September: 

§  2009 Budget Review – Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant and Deb Wykoff, Administrative Services Manager (30 min.)

§  Election of officers

§  2009 Fee Structure

To be scheduled:

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

§  Concession Management Policy

§  Park Ranger program overview – Mark and Dan (October?)

 


Next regular meeting: September 9, 2008, Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak, Ft. Collins, CO

 

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Debra Wykoff

 

APPROVED:

 

 

______________________________________

Linda Knowlton, Chair

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