Tuesday, July 14, 2009 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Bison Visitor Center , 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO
Barry Lewis, Vice Chair Tom Miller
Frank Cada Forrest Orswell
Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director
Mark Caughlan, Resource Manager
Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
Debra Wykoff, Business Operations Manager
David Lindsey, Park Ranger
Family of David Lindsey
The July 14, 2009, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton, at 5:40 p.m. The minutes of the May 12, 2009, meeting were approved. (There was no meeting in June, 2009.)
PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda - NONE
On May 28, a sneak preview of Red Mountain for staff and media was held. Colorado Getaways (Channel 4) filmed a spot for
that program. They intend to air it again on 7/18/09, 6:30 p.m.
Natural Resource Events for July. See
§ Parks Advisory Board did not meet in June; the July OLAB meeting is canceled.
Whole Measures: Healthy People, Healthy Land, Healthy Communities – K-Lynn Cameron
K-Lynn Cameron, recently retired from her
position as Open Lands Manager with Larimer County Natural Resources,
introduced the Whole Measures program to the Board, and facilitated a
discussion of several practices related to: “Relationships between Land &
People.” The Larimer County Commissioners have decided to use this program to
assist the community in evaluating the uses of the Open Space Sales Tax
revenues since its inception in 1996; and also to identify the needs and
desires of the community for the future, in preparation for extension of the
open space sales tax. The County Commissioners appointed the Parks and the
Open Lands Advisory Boards to participate in this program, along with Natural
Resources staff, the Commissioners, and others.
The big questions typically asked of open
space programs are: How much land have you protected; and how much money was
raised to acquire it? Larimer County has protected over 40,000 acres, and has
benefited from millions in matches from numerous partners. But this does not
address the issue of how people are affected by and interacting with these
parks and open spaces.
Peter Forbes, founder of the Center for
Whole Communities, developed this concept. The Whole Measures handbook
distributed by K-Lynn to the Board members will lead the Board through six
groups of practices, as an evaluation tool for identifying the needs and wants
of Larimer County citizens for the next sales tax. The management staff of the
department and the Commissioners are also participating in this process. In
September, Peter Forbes will be in Larimer County for a half day workshop which
Board representatives will be asked to attend. The Open Lands Program paid to
print these booklets and is paying $1000 to Peter Forbes for the workshop.
§ Relationships between Land & People
Practice: Increasing Direct Access to Land
K-Lynn asked each Board member to rate
where our parks and open space programs are now, and where members would like
it to be in the future. Board members are asked to look at each
practice as a member of the Parks Advisory Board, rather than their personal
perspective, or that of specific population groups. Board discussion followed,
with K-Lynn capturing the gist of their comments on a flip-chart.
Dave Coulson: There tends to be a ‘disconnect’
in the belief that humans must be kept off the land to preserve it – we forget
that humans are part of the natural world. He believes that neither government
or private ownership have the right to deny access to the land to anyone. The
land should belong to all the people. The most desirable state would be full,
unlimited access by humans to all land.
Barry Lewis: The County should focus on offering
more recreation opportunities – not on acquiring more land, because we can’t
afford to keep expanding.
Frank Gillespie: In Germany, you can walk
all over the land on public paths. However, somebody must take care of the
trails, or they will deteriorate until they are unusable. E.g., Homestead
Meadows – the USFS can’t afford to maintain it and it is deteriorating badly in
Forrest Orswell: Stewardship suffers as a
result of direct access by humans. We need to increase stewardship of what we
Vickie Traxler: She is concerned about
the lack of connection which young people have to the land; we need to
encourage and strengthen this connection.
Tom Miller: We are currently in negative
territory, moving toward neutral. The larger the population, the more the need
for access to nature. We need to provide access, but must look at significant
acquisitions – not political acquisitions that do not benefit the public. We
may now be close to having maxed out the significant acquisitions. Once we
reach that point, we must shift focus to taking care of it.
Frank Cada: Right now we don’t have farms
or gardens where we can take kids out to experience that. We are confined to
public land. Has Larimer County provided additional access to lands previously
not open to public? Or was all this land already in public ownership? He thinks
we have made improvements. It is really important for people to be able to see
working farms, farm animals, historical sites, etc.
Practice: Providing Learning and Inspiration
Practice: Respecting Long-Term Relationships to Land
Linda Knowlton: She really likes the idea
of providing lands which will be there for multiple generations to experience
sequentially and together. She is inspired by the vision of 3 generations
sharing an experience.
Frank Gillespie: Unfortunately, this is not
realistic. The transitory character of our population makes it unlikely that
multiple generations will continue to share a relationship to the same land.
Even the Amish, who have long connection to their land, are migrating to new
areas, thus losing that connection.
Frank Cada: He and his wife bought their
land in the 1960’s, and now their kids and grandkids also love coming there.
They do not live on the land, but they love to visit.
Forrest Orswell: Using conservation
easements to save people’s farms is an example of this. Should it be a goal of
the County to use public funds to keep people on their farms? What about
public access to private lands which are in conservation easements – what is
the County’s responsibility in this regard?
Barry Lewis: Does this mean people
staying on land that has been in their family for generations? Or public land to
which people may have access over generations?
Frank Gillespie: He feels saddened by the
discussion of this practice. In the northeastern US, all the family farms are
gone and all the farmland is now subdivisions. It’s no longer profitable to
have a farm or ranch. It seems unrealistic that we could ever achieve these
ideals. Unless it’s a museum piece – these are interpreters of history, not
real farms. It’s cultural – our transitory society.
Frank Cada: The Department has met several
of the criteria for how people connect to the land: Recreation, spirituality
(on trails without ATV’s), and inspiration when hiking.
Dave Coulson: We can’t have generational
connections until there is a community of people who have a shared connection
over years. It requires continuity of the community, which doesn’t happen
much. To achieve this, we must go way beyond parks – it’s a community project
– developing a sense of community because people want to stay here their whole
lives. People must have a sense of belonging.
Barry Lewis: We are preserving public
land in perpetuity, which is one requirement to achieving this.
Tom Miller: Two hundred years ago,
Europeans didn’t know this country was out here. Subdividing the land is
promoted by our society. Land ethics which promote destruction of the land are
typical of this country.
Vickie Traxler: We should focus on
encouraging younger generations to improve their connection to the land – and
their access to recreation and resources – by providing learning
opportunities. Preserving lands in perpetuity is one valuable step we are
Forrest Orswell: We’re doing well at
preserving public lands to ensure that future generations have access. But he
is not sure it is a smart way to spend County money, to use it to keep people
on their private land.
Barry Lewis: Our job is to represent the
average County resident – does the average resident know about all the
resources that are available and have been preserved?
Frank Gillespie: This community is a lot
more effective than many in encouraging the public to use recreation resources.
Dan Rieves: The people who don’t hear
about our programs aren’t plugged in, so don’t know about it.
K-Lynn asked all Board members to finish
this practice, and then go to the next practice. Do them in the order listed
below. Bring your comments to the next meeting, or email them to Kerri Rollins
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keeping
going. At the next meeting, a County facilitator will be present.
§ People and Land
§ Healthy Ecosystems – will be discussed at the August meeting.
§ Community Building
§ Healthy Habitat for People
§ Economic Vitality
§ Justice and Fairness
The goal is to develop a group snapshot of how we’re doing, and what we need to do in the future. The compiled results will then be shared with the public and tested to see how accurate our perceptions are. The results will go to Peter Forbes, for the September workshop. The Board is not expected to finish the entire workbook by September; this will be an ongoing discussion over the next several months.
Open Space Sales Tax Review – Gary Buffington, Director
Gary is cross-pollinating the boards by
sharing ideas, concepts, and budget information. The Open Lands Advisory Board
has heard a summary of Parks program budgets. This is a summary of funding and
budgets of the Open Lands Program and the open space sales tax. Gary
distributed the sales tax initiative and a summary of how the funds have been
spent since 1996, as well as a pie chart illustrating allowable uses of the
The Boards must evaluate the needs and
priorities of the County in determining how the next sales tax should look.
There are many needs to be met. We must also compete with numerous other
funding needs within the County – the Justice Center funding will be a major priority
for the County. We need to know how the Commissioners rank parks and open
space as compared to other funding needs.
Linda Knowlton: Educating the public is
critical. How much land is realistically going to be available for acquisition
in the future? Long term management costs must also be addressed. The public
must be educated. Maybe the next tax will need to focus on long term
management, more than continued acquisitions.
Tom Miller: The Friends group was
intended to promote support for the department and to build a constituency.
Frank Gillespie: What is the plan for
educating the public?
Dan Rieves: Demographics have changed a
lot since 1996 – we need that data. And we need to sell what we have accomplished
with the current tax.
Gary: User fees are another issue which
must be addressed. Most of our public open space areas currently are free to
the public; will we be able to continue that into the future?
Deb Wykoff: For 20 years, the parks
program has struggled with inadequate funding. The next sales tax must provide
funding for taking care of what we have and addressing long term management
costs for the entire department – our parks as well as our open spaces. Our
focus must not be limited to additional acquisition and development of open
Dan Rieves: World class parks around the
country are free to the public – these facilities have a secure long-term
funding source. That should be our goal as well – to secure the future of our
parks and open spaces.
§ Tom Miller: If we start talking about increasing fees, we will lose public support. It costs money to run parks. There is always support and funding for buying new parks; but no money for management.
Election of Officers for Parks Advisory Board, 2009-10
Chair Linda Knowlton encouraged
the Board to vote for new officers, to promote the continued vitality of the
Board. She briefly reviewed the primary responsibilities of the Chair before
calling for nominations. As Chair, she sometimes meets with Gary in advance to
set the agenda and discuss items coming up. The Chair must be present for
meetings; familiarity with parliamentary procedure is key; keeping the meeting
moving; reading and correcting the minutes before they are posted; managing
public comment; speaking carefully to the media when required; representing the
Board when needed in other public venues.
Director Gary Buffington
expressed his appreciation for the strong leadership which Linda has provided
to the Board during the first 18 months of its existence. These sentiments
were echoed by Board members.
Frank Cada nominated Barry Lewis
as Chair. Barry stated that he would prefer to remain as Vice-Chair, due to
other demands on his time, including his children.
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report –Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
§ Staff is working with neighbors of Big Thompson parcels, who are bringing maintenance needs to our attention.
§ Red Mountain Open Space is now open, and the parking lot is often full. Visitation has exceeded expectations, due to high public awareness.
§ Zebra mussel inspection program is up and running and working well. Funding is finally coming through from the Division of Wildlife.
§ Storm water audits are being performed.
§ Mid-year performance evaluations of seasonal employees are also underway.
§ Hermit Park Campground 2 (now named Bobcat Campground) opened last week. Hermit Park was sold out last weekend. The grass is high and wildflowers are going crazy!
§ The Carter Lake Marina store is being run by Dave Buck, hired by the Waldburgers, and is doing very well with the public. It’s encouraging to watch the public responding positively to the new facilities. The rangers have moved to offices in the lower level of the marina building.
§ It has stopped raining, after the second wettest June on record. Water levels are high, and revenues are bouncing back.
§ There hasn’t been full capacity yet on the reservoirs on weekends, but weekday use is picking up. Water levels are still rising in mid-July.
§ New facilities and hot weather, combined with good water levels should build momentum.
§ Great staff this year – they make it all happen on the ground.
§ Camper services buildings are hugely popular. Doing a survey this weekend to find out what people want in the facilities, amenities, etc.
§ New full-service sites at S. Bay are several weeks behind schedule.
§ The new swim beach projects can’t be done until low water – maybe not until next year.
Big Thompson Land Sales – Status report – Gary Buffington, Director
§ Charlie Johnson has been staking the fence line we committed to install. He will solicit contract offers for the work and bring them back to the board. He is also working with the church and adjoining landowners on those parcels.
Estes Valley Campgrounds – Gary Buffington and Dan Rieves
The draft contract wasn’t ready for
review, because some significant changes were made in the last round. It will
be available for the August meeting.
Gary and Stan Gengler met with the Estes
Park Planning Dept. and the Wastewater Dept., to be sure we can open the
campgrounds without making any improvements. These commitments were secured.
They recommended that we plan for the first two years to operate at status quo,
and then begin making the improvements.
Dan addressed Mark DeGregorio’s questions,
which Dan noted reflect “the Hermit Park Effect:” What will it cost to open
The initial cost will be limited to getting
the campgrounds onto our County system (reservation system, permits, maps, brochures,
etc.) The real costs are not clear, since most of the cost involved will be
staff time to get the campgrounds up and running.
We are still negotiating on how to handle
the reservations – whether to move to our reservation system, or stay with
their current system.
$50,000 is earmarked for initial start-up
costs. Additional costs would be paid back from first-year revenues. Dan
commented that, “We’re going to try to make the money before we spend it,”
setting aside some for future match on improvements. Estes Valley Recreation
and Park District has approximately $250,000 set aside for ADA improvements.
EVRPD will be responsible in the management agreement for all compliance
issues. We anticipate excess revenues of around $100,000 from the operation of
Frank Gillespie: Will the Estes Park town
shuttles will provide transportation from these campgrounds to Hermit Park and
other local destinations?
§ Barry Lewis: What is the worst case scenario?
The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.
FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
August 11, 2009 :
Next regular meeting: August 11, 2009, Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building.
Linda Knowlton, Chair