MINUTES

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak St., Fort 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:

Dave Coulson, Chair

Russell Fruits

Frank Gillespie

Linda Knowlton                                                                                                         

       Chad LaChance

       Forrest Orswell                                                                                                                                                                                 

Vickie Traxler                                                                                  

                                                           

Staff                                                                                     

Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director

Mark Caughlan, Resource Manager

Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager

Kerri Rollins, Fund Development & Outreach Specialist

Debra Wykoff, Business Operations Manager

 

Absent: 

Frank Cada

Mark DeGregorio

Tom Miller

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

 

 

 

The August 11, 2009, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Dave Coulson, at 5:35 p.m.  The minutes of the July 14, 2009, meeting were approved.  (There was no meeting in June, 2009.)

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda - NONE

 

GENERAL INFORMATION:  (Questions – 5 min.)

§   Natural Resource Events for August. See website http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources

§   August 18, 4-8 pm:  This year, the department will host a combined Employee Recognition and Advisory Board Appreciation event.  Flyers have been emailed to all board members.  Contact Deb for more information and to RSVP.

§   Fossil Creek Regional Open Space will be transferred to Fort Collins in 2010.  Our ranger staff will continue to occupy the office space there and will continue visitor management.  Maintenance will be handled by the City.  When the agreement is finalized, it will be brought to the Board.

PRESENTATIONS:  None

 

ACTION ITEM:  None

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

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

§  A camper services building (showers) at Eagle Campground at Carter Lake will be the next future project after the Horsetooth projects are completed.

§  Doors are being replaced at the Carter Lake Marina by the subcontractor, due to defective performance.

§  Water levels will remain good through the fall and into next year.  The Bureau of Reclamation expects both Horsetooth and Carter to be nearly full.

§  Chip and seal operations are underway to resurface the County roads around Carter Lake, which has had an impact on park operations and visitation.

§  There was a fatal boating accident at Carter Lake last week.  Natural Resources ranger staff are conducting the boat accident investigation.

§  A climber suffered a serious injury from a fall at Horsetooth Rock, but will recover.

§  There was a rattlesnake bite on the Towers Road at Horsetooth Mountain Park.

§  Horsetooth shower buildings are very popular with campers.

§  Design of the Sunrise swim beach facility has presented challenges to reduce slope and protect the sandy beach from wave action and erosion.  Due to very high costs to construct a breakwater, we are considering returning to the original concept in the Master Plan, which was for a natural beach, with funding used to improve the surrounding facilities, at both swim beach locations (South Bay and Sunrise.)  Gary thinks that it will be more cost effective to improve the existing swim beach facilities.  The plans will be brought back to the Board before a decision is made.

§  Mark is still looking at options to improve diving opportunities at Horsetooth in the Satanka area, where underwater visibility may be improved by structure and riprap.

§  High water has been great, but has slowed construction on the swim beach projects.

§  Visitation has dipped slightly the past two weekends, which is typical in early August.

§  Full-hookup campsites opened last weekend.  Landscaping will be done later in the fall.

§  We are seeing more meth and other drugs; an attempted suicide; domestic violence; several boating injuries.  15 packets of cocaine were recovered following a contact for dog off leash in the campground.

§  Hermit Park:  Over 500 people have attended campground programs this year.  The Hermit Park experience is more attuned to this type of activity than reservoir visitors.

§  Board orientation started today, and continues on the 18th.  On October 14, there will be a tour of Hermit Park, including the new campground.  Anyone who is interested in attending the tours may contact Kerri.

Board comment:

§   Frank GillespieGreat orientation, well organized.

 

      DIRECTOR’S REPORT

§   Big Thompson River:  A property owner complained about tubers disembarking on his property downstream from Glade Park.  An informational “Attention” sign will be installed at Glade Park to advise the public about private property rights, at the request of the County Commissioners.

§   An investment proposal will be submitted for the 2010 budget for $200,000 to be used as matching funds on a GOCO grant proposal for the camper services building at Eagle Campground.

§   Gary asked for feedback on what the Board wants to hear about routine park operations.

§   Dan Rieves:  A Tour of duty report (TDR) is done daily by ranger staff.  Statistical information will be provided annually.  A list of the “top 20” things from this season will be sent out – if this format works, it will be continued on a more frequent basis.  There are also field notes on the ranger page on the department website.

§   A pilot program using Twitter to post trail information is being tried to reach the demographic which wants information available in this format.

 

      Board comment:

§   Frank Gillespie:  Enjoys the oral report at meetings; doesn’t think a written report is necessary.

§   Linda Knowlton:  Could a short summary be sent by email, especially if there is no meeting imminent?

§   Chad LaChance:  Newsworthy items would be nice to hear about when they happen. 

§   Vickie Traxler:  Is the department concerned about reducing staff time at meetings?

§   Gary:  No – he is concerned about keeping the Board well informed on what we do.

§   Russ Fruits:  This is a good thing to start now to develop an informed constituency for the next sales tax.

§   Dave Coulson:  To be efficient in use of meeting time, he recommends that we focus on action items first, and then do the information as time allows, because the information can be communicated later via email, etc.

 

DISCUSSION ITEMS:

      Estes Valley Campgrounds –  Draft Contract – Gary Buffington and Dan Rieves

§   Gary provided copies of two versions of a partnership agreement with Estes Valley Recreation & Park District (EVRPD) for management of the Estes and Mary’s Lake campgrounds in Estes Park, and reviewed the provisions of each.

Board comment:

§   Frank Gillespie:  Do we want to get into retail sales?  The goal overall is to make a profit on these campgrounds to benefit Hermit Park, etc.?

§   Russ Fruits:  Remove the specificity from I.B. Operations.  It is too restrictive.

§   Chad LaChance:  Always include as little information as possible in the contract.  If there is no limit on the time or amount of the “65%” capital improvements, the EVRPD has carte blanche to use that money forever – we then need to assume that % will never be available to us – why would they ever give it up? 

§   Forrest Orswell:  The wording is too loose – EVRPD sets the development timeline – they could bank all the 65% for the next ten years without ever doing any improvements.  Then they can take the properties back from us and do all the improvements and take all the profits.

§   Chad LaChance:  How revenues are allocated should be very clearly defined. 

§   Linda:  Be careful to avoid use of the word “man” to describe “staff.”  What is the reference to RV repair?  Can people reserve a site for the entire summer? (yes)  Is there anything they may want to do as a capital improvement

§   Russ:  This has the potential to be a keystone operation for the department – a reliable and productive revenue generator.

 

Whole Measures:  Healthy People, Healthy Land, Healthy Communities – Kerri Rollins, Facilitator

Kerri is the Fund Development and Outreach Specialist for the Natural Resources department.  Before commencing the discussion, she provided these updates on the process:

§   The schedule for these discussions has been slowed down – there is no deadline to complete it.

§   On September 23, there will be a half-day session with Peter Forbes, the originator of the Whole Measures concept.  At this session we will look at next steps to take this out to the community.

§   The conversation among Board members is the most valuable aspect of this process.  No homework is required – the discussion is the whole point.

§   Discussion continued on the second Practice under “Relationships between Land & People:”

 


Providing learning and inspiration:

§   Vickie Traxler:  Modest.  Move to stronger. 
What is promoting?  (Kerri:  Whatever it means to you.)  More could be done to promote ways people connect with the land.  E.g., interpretive learning on trails at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space.  At the Horsetooth Falls, there were no interpretive signs.  Has the County ever looked at providing transportation from poor neighborhoods to help people get to our parks and open spaces?  (Kerri:  We are now accepting applications for that through the Small Grants Program.)  What about designing campgrounds for a more spiritual experience, with more privacy and lower density?  (Kerri:  We do have that at Hermit Park.)

 

§   Russ Fruits:  Modest.  That’s fine.  Move to strong in other areas.
He doesn’t want to see an interpretive sign every 3 feet – we live too much in a structured environment.  We need to just play in nature, without turning everything into a learning experience with little plaques you have to read, like at the zoo.  Promote back country experiences.  The reservation system makes it difficult to go camping if you don’t plan ahead.  It is difficult to be spiritual in a campground full of RVs and commotion and satellite dishes.  We talk about “at-risk” youth – there are a lot of kids who don’t fit that description who are also not outdoors and would love to be.  We could do hunting and fishing mentoring.  His daughter loves to go camping.

 

§   Chad LaChance:  Modest to Strong.  Goal = Highest Impact. 
The goal is to get people outside and to our park and open space areas – that should be our focus.  We should do everything we can to get people in touch with the environment.  There is currently a complete disconnect with the outdoor environment for many people – we need to first get them off the couch.  Larimer County is well known for having lots of outdoor resources and promoting them.  County has done a great job promoting what we have.  We’re well ahead of most counties, but could do better.  E.g. – school programs; introductory programs for kids; working with other community agencies.  Make access to outdoor activities easy – e.g., fishing access.  We gotta get people outdoors – sell the concept that the real thing is cheaper than a Wii.  How do we reach the disadvantaged population?  If we get people out there, they will find their own inspiration.  We must make it easy access and low cost.  E.g., the campground reservation system shuts out those who can’t afford the fees.  There are programs for at-risk kids; but not so much for other kids.  So the programs can get groups of kids outside en masse – it’s harder to reach the other kids who are isolated at home in the suburbs.

 

§   Dave Coulson:  Modest to Strong on educating about each separate area.  Aim for Highest Impact. 
We have fairly good education about each piece, but not as a whole as the pieces are connected.  Need recognition of the interconnectedness of all the interactions.  E.g., Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, Horsetooth Reservoir, and Lory State Park.  Think of all the pieces together even if we don’t manage some of those pieces.  Nature doesn’t recognize these artificial boundaries.  We forget to look at the forest because we’re looking at the trees.

§   Frank Gillespie:  Highest Impact = stretching our demographics. 
We need to be at Highest Impact if we expect to get another tax passed.  To pass the next sales tax, we need to get other people to use the resources, and reach them in different ways.  We don’t do much with spirituality and inspiration – that’s challenging – how do we do that?  Basically all our visitors look alike.  How can we reach other populations to educate them about ecosystems, eco-zones, etc.  Is there something we could do?    There are different needs in various populations.  We do well meeting the needs of the “55, white male” demographic – but not so much the others.  We’re doing well with recreation and education, but must have 3 areas to qualify for strong.

 

§   Forrest Orswell:  Modest.  Shoot for Highest Impact. 
We must target the population we want to reach – eg parents of young children.  Agriculture and food:  The City has done a great job with Lee Martinez Farm, and the community gardens.  It exposes city kids to farm animals.  Promote to different audiences.  Focus on other values – ag and food. 

 

§   Linda Knowlton:  Strong.  Stay strong. 
Agriculture and food – we don’t really provide those opportunities at this time.  Spirituality and inspiration are not things we can provide; you bring those within yourself.  We have a great education plan, and many opportunities for education.

Staff comment:

§   Dan Rieves:  It’s still the most motivated, most competitive person who will get the reservation.  To hold first-come-first-serve sites for the “station wagon and a cute dog with Susie and her braces at the last minute” isn’t an effective mechanism for managing our camping facilities.  All the sites will be sold out early regardless – there still won’t be any sites left for the late-comers who didn’t plan ahead.

§   Kerri:  Maybe we can partner with other entities – like libraries – to reach people.

§   Dan:  “How to” programs are an example – e.g., how to cook on a campfire. 

§   Kerri:  That was a big hit – “how to go tent camping” was not. 

§   Kerri:  What do we need to meet the agriculture and food needs?  Water!  We have Long View Farm, which is a perfect location for a community garden – but no water rights.

 

Kerri closed by sharing comments from the County Commissioners, who spoke in support of these priorities: 

  • renewable energy
  • environmental education
  • being more inclusive and less restrictive in regulations
  • increasing exposure through Twitter, etc.

They also commented that parks and open spaces are the same to the visitors.  The department does recreation well; outreach is important for next sales tax. 

 

Commissioner Steve Johnson commented on the dive platform at Horsetooth swim beach which is no longer there despite its popularity because the risk was considered too high.  He urges us to re-evaluate whether it’s worth taking a little risk to provide what our visitors want.  Loosen things up so people can have more fun without so many restrictive rules on what you can do where.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

 

FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:

September:

  • Pine beetle update
  • Whole Measures – Continue discussion

Future:

  • Concession Manual – Final Approval

 

Next regular meeting: September 8, 2009, Bison Visitor Center, 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO

  • Process to evaluate needs in preparation for the renewal of the opens space sales tax.

Respectfully submitted,

Debra Wykoff

 

APPROVED:

 

 

 

_______________________________

Dave Coulson, Chair