Loveland Bike Trail
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Bison Visitor Center , 1800 South County Road 31, Loveland, CO 80537

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:

Ivan Andrade

Russell Fruits

Frank Cada

Tom Miller

Mark DeGregorio

Chad LaChance

Dave Coulson

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

 

Staff

Gary Buffington

 

Dan Rieves

 

Debra Wykoff

 

 

 

 

 

Absent: 

Linda Knowlton, Chair

 

 

The February 10, 2009, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Vice-Chair Barry Lewis, at 5:35 p.m.  The minutes of the January 13, 2008, meeting were approved.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – None

 

GENERAL INFORMATION: 

  • A joint training with the City of Fort Collins and Larimer County will be held at the Lincoln Center on February 10-14, for the Volunteer Ranger Program.  The volunteers can go on a city or county property and get credit for all of their hours.  This started last year, and this is the second training we’ve had.

 

  • Applications for the Larimer County Visual Artist of the Year will be accepted until February 27, 2009.  For more information, contact Justin Scharton at jscharton@larimer.org.  First year of the program was 2006 and Jim Disney was the artist.  One goal of the Program is to bring awareness of the Open Lands Program in long-term thinking of extending the Help Preserve Open Spaces Sales Tax.  Jim stayed on for a 2nd year; 2008 was the first year we targeted other artists.  The 2008 Visual Artist of the Year was Patty Hawkins.  Her quilted landscape will hang in the Commissioners Office for the next year.

 

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS: 

New Board Members –

§   Linda and Gary, along with all three Commissioners, interviewed four candidates for two vacancies.

§   Two individuals have been recommended to the BCC for appointment on February 17.

 


ACTION ITEMS: 

      Aquatic nuisance species inspection and park management plan – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager

§   Dan and Mark met last Monday night with a group of stakeholders, including Tom Miller and Ivan Andrade from the Board, marina concessionaires, members of boating and fishing clubs and the boating public.

§   So far, outreach and education has been the focus of the zebra mussel effort.  The boating public has become very savvy on this issue, as all agencies have participated in the public information campaign.

§   The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) is close to finalizing their Aquatic Nuisance Species Statewide Management Plan, which will be implemented consistently across the state. Consistent management is a key demand of the boating public. 

§   The Plan conducted a risk assessment of every navigable waterway in the state.  Both Carter and Horsetooth have been rated very high risk, due to the transient nature of our boating population and the potential downstream devastation which could result from infestation of these reservoirs.

§   Dan distributed the draft state regulation (Chapter 8 – Aquatic Nuisance Species.  Refer to page 3, #803, Inspections, B – All persons transporting conveyances must submit to an inspection when entering or leaving a high risk reservoir.)

§   We will be required to inspect all vessels entering the reservoirs. Steve Newman, retired CDOW fish expert, has agreed to assist us in organizing and running the program.

§   CDOW’s initial proposed schedule and budget earmarked around $400,000 for our reservoirs, but severely limited boating hours.  If CDOW performs the inspections, then boating hours would be in their control, which is not acceptable for the Natural Resources Department.

§   The proposed plan which we have developed allows boating access throughout the year.  From April through September, the boat ramps would be open 6 am to 10 pm.  During March and October, the ramps would be open 7 am to 5 pm, Friday through Sunday.  During November to February, one ramp would be open for limited weekend launch times.

§   There is a constituency which would like access at 5 am.  The very low demand at that hour makes it difficult to justify staffing.

§   All reservoirs in the state will be facing the same constraints, so we will not be in competition.

§   The state program requires clean boats to be attached to the boat trailer and tagged.  Boats which have been tagged may enter these or other reservoirs without re-inspection.  Our objective will be to tag as many boats as possible before the season starts to make it easier.

§   Funding of the additional staff required may come from CDOW, in the amount of $385,000.  Because we are able to be flexible in hiring staff, we are favored for funding.  However, all state funding is currently frozen.  They have requested an exception for Larimer County, but the outcome is not yet known.  The state plan will not be approved until probably April. If this funding doesn’t come through, we have no alternative source of funding to staff for this.  In that event, no one knows what will happen.

§   There is no funding available for future years, 2010 and beyond.  We could be required to fund the program, or prohibit boating.

 

Board comment:

§   Chad LaChance:  Thanked Dan for the meeting with stakeholders.  He applauds the effort to keep the reservoir open 12 months a year.  He did extensive interviewing of fishermen around the state.  Lots of reservoirs will not be tagged.  He wants the boat ramps staggered so that at least one ramp is open at 5 am – the fishing experience at day break is best, so it’s worth it.  He also suggests leaving one ramp open later.  He spoke to hundreds of people in the past week, and the majority wants the ramps open earlier than 5 a.m. Across the board, both pleasure boaters and fishermen whom he interviewed want earlier start times.  Not being tagged doesn’t mean you can’t come back.  You just have to wait in line next time.  So we are trading off extended late hours to no early access – this is a bad trade-off.

§   Tom Miller:  Fishermen will congregate at one ramp, which is open early; they will also return to that ramp because their trailer will be there.  He urges the department to try the hours, and adjust if there is no demand.  There are times that can be shaved from the late times.

§   Ivan Andrade:  How will scheduling of inspectors work if the ramp inspection and tagging times are split?

§   Russ Fruits:  Will we be able to supplement paid staff with volunteers?

§   Chad:  Could we reduce staffing on weekdays to increase staffing on weekends when demand is high?  Having a plan that satisfies as many people as possible is important; based on his experience, 5 am is a popular hour. 

§   Russ:  Department staff is very responsive to the public.  If demand is great, the department can then expand the hours.

 

Staff response:

§   A simple ramp schedule was one operational concern, to make it easier for the boating public to keep track of the hours.  91% of our boaters are pleasure boaters; only 9% are primarily fishermen.  If the earlier start time is necessary to move forward with the plan, we can consider changing the proposal.  However, once implemented, it will not be possible to cut back the hours in mid-season.  Our schedule was based on experience observing numbers of trailers at the ramp at certain hours of the day.  There is simply not that much demand at 5 a.m.

§   Many people come out after work, and stay until the ambient light is gone.  A huge percent are coming off the water around 9 pm.  All these must be tagged before they leave, so the ramp must stay open later.  We will run 3 shifts, throughout the day.

§   We expect to supplement with volunteers.  If there is no funding for the program, we may need to staff wholly with volunteers.

§   There is a constituency for every ramp, every time of day.  Satanka is one possible ramp which could be closed – but many people who use that ramp would not be happy about it.  Operationally, it’s very difficult to close South Bay or Inlet Bay, even during the week. It’s always easier to expand hours than to reduce them later.

§   The proposed schedule is the “bare minimum commitment” to the public – if weather is great, we will supplement with

 

Dan Rieves requested that the Board approve the recommended plan without changes.

Russ Fruits made, and Dave Coulson seconded, a motion that the Board accept the proposal as written to be sent on for further consideration by the Division of Wildlife.  Following discussion, the motion was approved by a show of hands, with five in favor, and three opposed.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 


Discussion:

David Coulson:  Will 5 a.m. remain an option if we vote for the proposed schedule?


Chad LaChance:  To open one ramp at Horsetooth for the entire season will only add $5,000 to the proposal – why not add it now and request the extra funding?

 

Staff response:

§   5 a.m. will not remain an option from this funding source if the proposed schedule is approved.  We would foot the bill to expand the hours later.  Until actual circumstances dictate otherwise, this will be the operational plan.  We will adjust to meet demands.

§   Re:  Opening one ramp earlier:  We don’t want to set a precedent which we can’t afford next year.

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager

§    Shower houses should open in mid-April. 

§  Building plans submitted to County planning for the eight full-service campsites.  The bid should go out in April.  Construction should happen in June and July.

§  Working with AVI consultants to design the swim beach on the east side of Horsetooth.  Generating revenue from day use is important – it will reduce pressure on South Bay, and be high use.  This project is scheduled for next fall/winter.  The South Bay swim beach will also be renovated.

§  Water levels at Carter are encouraging – already high.  Enough open water to attract fishermen. 

§  Reorganization working well.

§  Visitation at Hermit Park is very weather-dependent – cabin rentals go up when it snows; winter hiking is also popular in nice weather. 

§  Special Events are on track for the coming season, such as the Carter Lake Regatta.

 

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

Monthly update to the Board Director, Gary Buffington

Department Reorganization Plan

§   Gary reviewed the new organizational plan, which was designed to be more efficient and to capitalize on employees’ strengths, and reduced Gary’s direct supports from seven to four.

§   One employee was laid off; two vacant positions were eliminated.

§   Dan Rieves is now the Visitor Services Program Manager, responsible for over-all park operations.

§   Chris Fleming was promoted to manage all of the Blue Mountain District.

§   Mechanical Services was moved under Dan Rieves, as an operational piece

§   Mark remains the manager of Horsetooth and will also oversee the Construction Program

§   Travis Rollins will manage all open space operations throughout the system

§   Meegan Flenniken has been promoted to Land Stewardship Program Manager, overseeing the Weed District, Forestry and Trails

§   Will Talbot and Cindy Claggett have been promoted to Senior Ranger at each park district, following interviews last week.

 

 


DISCUSSION ITEMS:

      Concession Policy update – Request for Proposal, Format and Evaluation – Director Gary Buffington

  • Gary distributed several draft documents:

§   Request for Proposal format and sample of the RFP for the Marina Maintenance building at Carter Lake.  (When the Waldburgers’ license at the Carter Lake Marina expires in two years, this is the process that will be used to go out to bid.)

§   Evaluation Procedure

§   Evaluation Guidelines

§   Evaluation Criteria

  • An evaluation committee will review bids received and present findings to the Parks Advisory Board, which will make a recommendation to the County Commissioners.

 

Board comment:

  • Do we share this information with the bidders?
  • When does the bid package information become public?

 

Staff response:

  • Yes, they get the scope of services upon request; then there is pre-bid meeting with interested vendors.  Bidders then submit proposals and may be invited to present their proposal.
  • Carter Lake Marina grosses about $400,000 per year; Inlet Bay Marina is about double that.  The department receives 5% of gross revenues.
  • These are new, proposed procedures, to update the County’s Concession Policy.
  • The bid package information becomes public after a selection is made.  Until then, the information submitted is confidential, while the Board is considering the matter.

      Big Thompson River Properties: Proposed plan for Hayden Subdivision parcels

  • Gary displayed the map of Hayden Subdivision and presented the three options proposed for County property adjacent to Hayden Subdivision (see attached.)
  • Vice-Chair, Barry Lewis noted that this is ‘day one’ of the 60 day public comment period.

 

Public comment:

  • Walt Graul:  Representing Friends of the Big Thompson.  These areas were bought 30 years ago with Federal funds; recreation was a key theme, and fishing was a part of that.  These properties are still public property.  What has changed in 30 years is that a whole lot more people want to fish.  Google “Big Thompson River fishing,” and the references are endless – he stopped at 40 pages.  This is a big deal.  The Loveland Fishing Club proposed a compromise in 2005 – to sell about half and keep about half the parcels owned.  They did not recommend retention of the Cedar Cove Subdivision parcels due to difficulty of access, etc.  The parcels they recommended keeping were those with good access and good fishing potential.  The Fishing Club is quite willing to compromise, but would like to be able to step onto land on the east side of the river.  This may be making a mountain out of a molehill because the fishermen also do not want dirty diapers and trash along the river.  They will submit written comments.

  • Mike Barczewski:  He is a fisherman, and a member of Griends of the Big Thompson.  In reading some of the comments from the public meeting at Drake, he agrees with some of the concerns of the landowners.  When he is fishing, he is also appalled when access points are trashed.  Let’s all work together as a coalition to improve the river and to make the experience of both fishermen and residents better.  We can’t expect the County to bear the whole responsibility.  Anglers are more than willing to partner with residents to preserve the beauty of the river and also prevent bad behavior, clean up the river.  Maybe it’s time to have that discussion.  Prefers Option 1.

  • Diane Honstein:  Lives in Cedar Cove.  The County bought the land because of the Big Thompson flood.  Her grandmother’s property was taken away; she would like to buy it back.  It wasn’t for fishing at all; it was to protect people from the floods.  One thing she hears a lot is that residents are a valuable, honorable, legal, protected part of the area.  They live there; they constantly protect the land.  Residents have been called awful things in the newspaper, and that’s not right.  They are a friend of the Big Thompson Canyon, on a day-to-day basis – not just on a fishing tour.  She is a bit dismayed that most of the Advisory Board is very pro-fishing and recreation.  Residents are also part of the parks and the ecosystem, and should also be protected.  Maybe there should be an advisory board which is half residents and half fishermen.  Favors Option 3.

  • Brian Chaveed:  Owns a fly shop in Loveland.  Can’t say his business relies on the Big Thompson, but it is definitely a gem and the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Growing up on a farm, pheasant hunting, you always asked and were granted permission to hunt on private property.  Based on the disrespect of personal property which residents complain about, he proposes to help.  He is involved with several youth groups and church groups, and can coordinate clean-ups several times a year.  Somebody must take responsibility for it, and he would like to do that, in cooperation with residents.  He hopes that may help residents feel more positive about the motivation of anglers.  He sees a need for access to the other side of the river and favors Option 1.

  • Gib Dunning:  Lives in Hayden Subdivision.  Favors Option 3.  Comments by others that “this is not your front yard” are wrong.  He disagrees.  A 10 ft public easement across the front of the lot would reduce his lot by __%.  When he first moved up there, in 1987, he contacted the Parks Department about removing a big slab of concrete; and Ken Woods took care of it.  Ken removed the concrete and filled the hole, and Gib reseeded it.  He definitely considers that his front yard even though the County owns it.  He does not want to see a 10 ft. easement across his (i.e., County’s) property.  He treats those lots as if he owns them, and they show it.

  • Dallas Maurer:  Lives at Drake.  From the Dam Store to Estes Park, there are over 16 miles out of 20 that are totally accessible from the highway.  Why try to jam access down the throats of residents in this small area?  Putting in the access is a ‘bridge to nowhere.”  He is a bigger friend of the river than anyone – has done a lot of repairs and clean-ups for free.  In the summer, there may a maximum of 75 feet where you can actually safely gain access to the river at that point.  It’s not a safe fishing area.  Fishermen park across from the post office and fish from there up and back.  It’s fast, narrow, steep, and poor fishing, due to over-fishing by out-of-staters.  This is a lot of noise over relatively nothing.  The fast channel is on the inside.  You wouldn’t be fishing it from that side anyway.  There is no reason for access there.  He votes for no.3.

  • Joyce Kilmer:  How many are in the Fishing Club?  (Walt Graul says 87 in Loveland, many more in other fishing organizations in Larimer County and the state. )  On top of those people, there are also the tourists.  That’s a lot of people to use that area.  At the Drake meeting, all 75 people in attendance voted for #3.  Will this set a precedent for future parcels?  (Referred her to the Q/A.)

  • Buzz Tarbox?:  Member of the church, which wants an additional lot for parking.  We’re talking about 1/8 mile of the river in an intensively developed area.  Why not focus on the open side of the river? Option 3 is the best.

  • Sherry Stroh:  At the Big Thompson meeting, all votes favored Option 3 – approximately 75 people – all home owners in the area.  They would like to keep it private.  Four of the eleven homeowners already own to the middle of the river.  When she bought, they asked only to buy to the edge of the river.  So the buffer zone would not mesh with what’s already there.  They bought from Gib, and they hoped to buy the river frontage.  They have seen only 1 fisherman on their side of the river since they bought up there.  Owners up there pick up their own parcels and would keep it nice.  If we owned the whole thing, it would stay clean.  Money is a big concern for the department.  If you take away the 5-10 ft. buffer from private ownership, the County loses money.

  • Leroy ________:  He lives in the area.  How much has the County spent in the past 30 years on this 700 feet stretch?  He guesses zero.  His neighbors keep it cleaned up.  He has never seen a County employee up there.  Has Gary or anyone else tried to walk that buffer?  Can’t be done. Votes for #3.

  • Chuck Cleveland:  Speaking for the Chapel of the Interlude – they own lot 34 and hope to buy lot 32.  In the summer, the church is open on the weekends.  Saturday and Sunday, increased visitation would add noise for the church. 

  • Chris Ochoa:  Lives in the same area.  You can’t do anything about the bad behavior of others.  Many fishermen come by; they are great guys, and never leave trash.  But you can’t regulate other people, and others will come there not to fish, but to do other things, leave garbage, pet waste, etc.  She has children, and has a fear of strangers being there close to her children right there in her front yard.  How are we going to show the boundary of the 10 ft. corridor there?  The beautiful, natural view will be spoiled by signs, fences, etc, which are another form of pollution.  She votes for #3.

  • Marge Rady:  When they wanted to fish in front of our property, they couldn’t get next to the river to fish because it’s too steep.  Most fishermen are on the other side anyway.

  • Willy Stroh:  We live in a Greeley subdivision and also have property at Drake.  People seem to think they can do things on your property at Drake that they wouldn’t do in town in your front yard- like picnic.  The public think because it’s in the mountains, they can go wherever they want and do whatever they want – picnic, leave trash, etc.  Votes for #3.

 

Board comment:

§  Chad LaChance:  Fish density is very high; this is a world class fly fishing stream.  Those who purchased after the County owned these parcels had no basis for expecting to own this property.  As a realtor and a fishing guide, who lives adjacent to County land, he personally experiences what it is like to live adjacent to public property.  He, too, would love to have exclusive access to the shore by his house; but he accepts that this is not a realistic expectation.  This is public property being taken out of public ownership.  He understands the privacy concerns; but mountain property owners have no more expectation than a town owner does in regard to public use of the sidewalk.  This needs to be for the good of all people – not just the 11 people who own parcels there.  He hears lots of people say nobody uses it – that’s because nobody knows it’s public property.  This is a very emotional issue.  He hopes the Commissioners will hear all sides, not just local landowners.


 

§  Dave Coulson:  On option 3, it says “to the edge of the water.”  Could it be changed to read “to the high water mark?” This is typical in states where the streambed is public – it goes to the high water mark.  It’s still vague as to the actual location, but is more consistent with general practice.

§  Frank Cada:  If we try to define public property right along the river, it’s very difficult to define.  To safely have access to the river, it’s important to have a defined buffer area.  To get across the river, fishermen do want to sit on a rock to change a fly, etc.  So he would like to see us retain some public access on that side.

§  Tom Miller:  They looked at other models.  “To the middle of the river” is difficult to define.  If we don’t retain a defined access strip on the subdivision side, then anyone who steps on the land there is trespassing.  It is very important to retain public access on both sides of the river.

§  Mark De Gregorio:  Are the new County Commissioners of the same mindset as the Board which established these criteria in 2005?  These properties were acquired in the floodway.  The new Board may feel differently about the issue – we should find out.

 

Meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

 

FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:

March:

§   Concession Policy Update - continued

 

Next regular meeting: March 10, 2009, Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse

 

Respectfully submitted,

Debra Wykoff

 

APPROVED:

 

 

__________________________________

Barry Lewis, Vice-Chair

 

 

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