Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 , 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:

Dave Coulson, Chair

Frank Cada

Mark De Gregorio

Russell Fruits

Frank Gillespie

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair                                                                                

       Tom Miller

Vickie Traxler                                                                                  

                                                           

Staff:                                                                                                                  

Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director

Rob Novak,  Education Specialist

Kerri Rollins, Fund Development & Outreach Specialist

Debra Wykoff, Business Operations Manager

 

Visitors:   

Kristin Kirkpatrick, CanDo Loveland

 

Absent: 

  Chad LaChance

 

 

    Linda Knowlton             

    Forrest Orswell

 

The September 8, 2009, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Dave Coulson, at 5:35 p.m.  The minutes of the August 11, 2009, meeting were approved.  

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: None

 

GENERAL INFORMATION:  (Questions – 5 min.)

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

§   The Aspen Glenn Campground name at Hermit Park was changed to Granite Gulch, the second choice for that campground.  Rocky Mountain National Park has an Aspen Glenn Campground.

§   New OLAB and PAB members participated in a 2-day orientation, touring Red Mountain, River Bluffs, the Blue Mountain Conservation Area, Horsetooth, and Devil’s Backbone open spaces as well as Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake.

§   On 9/15 in the afternoon, GOCO is hosting a meeting in Larimer County for grantees and all Colorado citizens about the future use of GOCO’s portion of Lottery proceeds in the next five to ten years.  The meeting will be held in Fort Collins and followed by a BBQ at Horsetooth Reservoir.  Mark your calendars, an invitation will be forthcoming. 

§   Colorado Open Space Alliance conference 9/21-23 in Breckenridge – registration and information is available at www.coloradoopenspace.org  Please check it out and decide if you would like to go. 

§   On 9/23 from 8-12:00 Peter Forbs from the Center for Whole Communities will facilitate a session that will build on the Whole Measures exercises we’ve been working on.  Please plan on attending if you can.  (No RSVPs received yet.)

§   On 9/26 don’t miss the 5th Annual Northern Colorado Birding Fair at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space!  This is a great free event for families and birders of all skill levels.  Hourly presentations, as well as birding clinics, hikes and activity booths will be available.  The Friends group will have a welcome booth and the Lyons Club will serve food.  The event is scheduled from 7am – 1pm. 

§   On 10/14 from 1pm – 5pm there will a tour to Hermit Park Open Space for new OLAB & PAB members.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  We will see the new Bobcat Camp Area (aka Camp Area 2).  RSVP’s will be taken closer to the date.

§  Fossil Creek management transfers to Ft. Collins 1/1/10.  They will do plowing, weeds, mowing, trees, etc.  We will continue to occupy and maintain the Visitor Center.

§  High water will continue into next spring at Horsetooth and Carter.  The swim beaches will remain open after Labor Day due to water level.

§  We have received the funding from CDOW for the ANS (zebra mussel) inspection program.  Our reservoirs are ranked as high risk, so inspections are mandatory.  Zebra mussels have been found on a boat coming from Lake Havasu. 

§  The Commissioners granted permission for us to post signs on Big Thompson property near a neighbor to our areas, to caution public against trespass on private property.

§  A new pine beetle kill collection site has opened in Red Feather.

§  Weed District ballot issue will be postponed and re-requested to the Commissioners next year, because it would be the only issue on the ballot, so there would be a large fee to put it on the ballot this year.

  • The Commissioners are accepting 2010 Investment Proposals for additional General Fund support.  We will be requesting $200,000, for the Eagle Campground visitor services building, to match Bureau ADA funding and a GOCO grant proposal which will be submitted in the next funding cycle.  If General Fund support is received, this would free up other funding (BOR and loan funds) for additional Priority 1 projects in the Blue Mountain District.
  • The Employee Recognition and Board Appreciation Event at the Sail & Saddle Club at Horsetooth Reservoir on August 18, 2009, was attended by around 100 people, including several PAB members and all three County Commissioners and their families. 
  • The Colorado Division of Wildlife has provided nearly $300,000, in funding for the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) boat monitoring program at Horsetooth and Carter reservoirs.  One boat has been discovered with dead adult zebra mussels attached to the hull. 
  • There are no furloughs being required for County employees in this department.

PRESENTATIONS:  

Hermit Park Education Plan – Rob Novak, Education Specialist

§   Rob distributed a revision of the budget included in the plan.  He gave a brief overview of the interpretive and education planning process.  The first draft was reviewed by the Estes Valley Land Trust and various Hermit Park staff and volunteers.

§   The overall theme for Hermit Park will focus on solitude: a sanctuary for both people and wildlife.

§   Management issues identified include staying on trail and dogs on leash.  These messages, as well as stewardship of the land, will be emphasized at the information kiosks.

§   At Hermit Park there is no shortage of presenters or audience for education programs.  We average 45-60 per campground program, on a variety of topics including:  Eagles, ghost stories of Estes park, and a very popular chuck wagon cookout dinner.  Other topics include: Forest ecology and diversity, wildlife habitat (Bear Aware); homesteading and ranching history; the true history of Dutch Louie, wildflower hikes, overall orientation to the area, etc.

§   Rob reviewed the phasing scheme for non-personal options, beginning with First priority projects which can be done in-house immediately for minimal financial investment.

§   Rob reviewed the budget elements, which total $33,619.

§   Rob displayed the proposed banner concept to establish an identity for each of our areas.  He showed 3 options for Hermit Park.  Members commented on the elements they liked or disliked in each.  Rob will bring a refined banner to the next meeting; and a revision of the plan will also be sent out.

§   Board members are requested to please send comments to Rob re the plan.

Board comments:

§   Mark De Gregorio:  Is there any data about the origin of visitors?  (Visitors come primarily from within 50 miles of Estes Park.)

§   Barry Lewis:  Have we done anything to target Hewlett Packard and Agilent employees with the new use limitations? This could help reset expectations for allowable uses when they visit the park.  There is an internal communication tool called “Colorado Communications” which would be an appropriate way to get the word out to employees.  (Rob will pursue this – great idea!)

§   Russ Fruits:  This could also entice employees to come up and check it out.

§   Tom Miller:  Dogs are detrimental to these management values – have we considered banning dogs?  (Rob noted that this would not be addressed in the education plan, but rather in the management plan.)

§   Frank Gillespie:  People may seek out Hermit Park as a place to take their dogs, because they can’t take them to Rocky Mountain National Park.

§   Frank Cada:  Kids and dogs are a huge part of our target population – it could negatively affect our visitation if we prohibit dogs!

§   Russ Fruits:  Requested a review of the 2009 actual revenues and expenditures near the end of the year.

§   Mark De Gregorio:  Former Hewlett Packard employees who were involved with Hermit Park in the early days when HP acquired it back in the 60’s and 70’s may also have some interesting stories to share.

§   Barry Lewis:  Suggested moving the ranching element to another location more appropriate to that activity.

§   Tom Miller:  What happens if other things come up which aren’t in the plan? (New possibilities will always be considered.)

§   Russ Fruits:  If horses are on a trail, educate on trail etiquette.  (This is always done on our trails through signage, information kiosks, etc.)

§   Mark De Gregorio:  Rocky Mountain National Park is very strict on unsecured food.  Mark wants to ensure consistency in how this is treated at our parks. (We require all food to be secured and have a $50 penalty assessment for failure to do so; we enforce per CDOW Bear Aware guidelines.)

 

"Livable Larimer County: What's Health Got to Do With It?" – Kristin Kirkpatrick, Can-Do Loveland Specialist, Coalition for Activity and Nutrition to Defeat Obesity

§   CanDo receives funding from Live Well CO, and will be partnering with Larimer County on the Whole Measures initiative.

§   The program addresses obesity within a variety of contexts:  schools, worksites, health care, , etc., through consistent, reinforcing messages.

§   Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease. 

§   Colorado is one of the fittest states in the nation, and yet also has one of the fastest growth rates of obesity. 

§   In Larimer County, half of the population is overweight.

§   Kids spend more time interacting with media than any other activities except sleeping.

§   People with access to parks are more likely to be physically active; trails promote physical activity.

§   There are significant benefits to play in open space – reduced anxiety, anger, depression, stress, etc.  For kids, playing outside results in more creative play; improved motor skills; mental health; increased autonomy; and social connectedness.  We don’t give kids enough opportunity to develop autonomy.

§   Parks should be safe, linked, designed for multi-use.  Easy access is key.

§   Land use policy IS health policy.

 

      Board comment:

§   Tom Miller:  Parks are NOT a “non-essential service,” although often viewed as such by elected officials.

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report –Gary Buffington

§  The 8 full service sites at South Bay at Horsetooth are completed and full every weekend.

§  Sunrise swim beach on the east side of Horsetooth will be improved modestly; most of the funds will be used to upgrade the facilities at South Bay.

§  East side:  Improvements will include parking, picnic pavilion, and removing boulders to create natural beach.

§  S. Bay:  Improvements will include moving the group use site north to be near the swim beach, improved facilities, parking, restrooms, etc.

 

Board comments:

§  Tom Miller:  It appears that the parking area at Glade Park as been reduced – why?  (FIF grant, made larger parking spaces, access to river improved; fish habitat improvements; parking wasn’t really reduced?)   The improved fish habitat is excellent.

 

 

DIRECTOR’S REPORT

      Carter Lake Sail Club license renewal

§   Representatives of the Carter Lake Sail Club, Dave Locke, county government liaison; Doug McKnight, Commodore; and Mike Gurley, past Commodore and member since 1991, spoke briefly about the club and their hopes for a renewal of the license:

o   They are a not for profit voluntary club, consisting of 60 families from throughout the area, not just Larimer County.

o   The members pay dues and donate 32 hours per year to maintain the facilities.

o   Membership is open to the public.

o   During the “Summer Sailstice”, members take the public out sailing, to see what it is like to sail.

o   Have been in existence for 55 years.

o   Would like longer than a 5 year license renewal.

o   It will cost $100,000 to replace the slips, which are deteriorating – to justify that investment, they are requesting a longer license period.

o   They have a couple of empty slips – so feel the current cost is high enough.

o   Current fee is $15,000, which represents a large increase from the old fee of $2,500, which was still in effect five years ago.

§   Gary reviewed the current license terms, and distributed copies of the license for Board members to review for the next meeting. 

§   Gary:  Budget summary update distributed before the meeting: no comments. Fee may be higher for a longer term. 

 

      Board comments:

§   Mark De Gregorio:  Who owns the facility?  (The club – but the Bureau of Reclamation wants private facilities eliminated over time.)  What is the annual budget for upkeep?  ($2,000 per year, plus volunteer labor.) 

 

DISCUSSION ITEMS:

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

      Community Building - Creating Public Space for Community engagement:

            Current status:

§   Russ Fruits:  Modest. 
We don’t go out of our way to create them, nor should we.  We don’t necessarily do formal or informal group settings.  It is more important to provide places for people to get away and be alone, free from groups and planned activities.  If the number of 55 yr. old males using our parks represent a proportionate slice of the pie for the county as whole, then that’s appropriate.

 

§   Tom Miller:  Strong. 
Open space creates places for diverse populations; Glade Park, for example, serves families, and also serves fly fishers.  There are guys with fancy fishing rods, and families with fancy pinatas sharing this space. On Devils Backbone, you see people with horses, llamas, bikes, etc.  Many groups come to the Horsetooth swim beach for large family picnics.  Build it and they will come.  We should do all we can. The closer you get to an urban setting, the more diverse the groups.  He sees more women walking the trails in Larimer County than men.  He sees a majority of 20-30 year old women jogging on the bike trails. 

 

§   Barry Miller:  Half-strong
Our parks and open spaces create gathering places.  But he isn’t aware that we do things that bring diverse populations together.  The people that go to our places are typically of a homogenous group.  There are efforts to do things like campground programs to bring people together, but it is still largely a homogenous audience. He sees diverse groups on the Poudre River Trail – diverse cultural backgrounds, usages (bicycles, skates, skateboards, joggers, walkers) and the ages are very diverse – from families with strollers to grey-haired cyclists.  The people he sees on this trail reflect the Larimer/Weld County communities.  Overall in Larimer County, we do a good job of linking the trail systems together, e.g., bike trails within Fort Collins connect the city parks.

§   Frank Gillespie: 
We’re doing all this - but the statistics show our visitors are primarily 40-55 year-old, white males!  We are not reaching many other populations.

§   Frank Cada:  Leaning toward strong. 
People on the beaches, campers, or hikers come together while doing their activities and interact.

§   Vickie Traxler:  Strong. 
Parks and open spaces lend themselves to informal gatherings.  But we could have many, many more such places, and more diversity.  Assuming that the primary consumers are 40-55 yr. old white males – what would it take to appeal to females?  What do we need to do to attract other communities of users?

§   Dave Coulson:  Parks – strong.  Open Space –neutral at best. 
On open space, we are restricted to certain uses in specific prescribed places – we don’t allow people to get off trail.  In some, there is no public access. There needs to be more flexibility.  Open space rules should be more relaxed.  You can go through his entire neighborhood without ever having to cross a major street.  This is good neighborhood design, which encourages interconnections. 

§   Mark De Gregorio:  Multi-layered.  Whole department portfolio, regional trails, open space, developed recreation facilities, etc.:  Strong.  Individual programs:  Neutral to Modest.  But not strong on types of facilities that encourage non-dominant cultures. 
Barriers to non-dominant cultures:  The ways parks are laid out or structured don’t encourage the uses these cultures like.  E.g., Glade Park does meet these needs:  No fee, easy to access, room for a large group, no reservations, access to the river for fishing, etc.  Loveland’s Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park is popular with large family groups for many of the same reasons. Why don’t some populations use the reservoirs?  There are many reasons:  It costs too much; they don’t have a boat; need a car to get there, etc.  Having a diverse portfolio in the department is important.  But we don’t have to offer the same opportunities at all of them. 

       

      Where we want to be:

§   Tom Miller:  Highest Impact (if we want to be there)
Focus closer in to population centers, by continuing to focus on regional recreation through sales tax.  We may get to the point where all the good stuff has been acquired.  Emphasize re-creation and let ball fields and gyms, etc. be done by other agencies.  We all represent the old American tradition – there’s no one on the Board representing a non-dominant culture, for example.  But we don’t what the new American tradition will be, so how can we plan for that? 

§   Russ Fruits:  Modest-Strong
If we focus too much on group experience, we may lose the opportunity for rugged individualism, hiking alone, etc.  We should tailor uses to a specific habitat – not acquire land for specific intensive uses.

§   Frank Gillespie:  Highest impact.
He has seen large family groups taking up 10 tables at Fort Collins City Park for one group – there are not enough places for this stuff.  Members of non-dominant cultures may not vote for the sales tax unless they feel that we are providing what they want – we must reach a larger portion of population.  To achieve highest impact, it must come from the cities and the County cooperating on a tax and on providing opportunities.

§   Vickie Traxler: 
All of our parks and open spaces should have small group areas for families, scouts, etc. to meet together.  There is value in this for the community as a whole, and we need more informal meeting places.

§   Frank Cada:  Highest impact
But that doesn’t mean everything must accommodate group use.  From a marketing perspective, it may be harmful not to say we are aiming for highest impact.

§   Barry Lewis:  Highest impact
We should keep in mind the diversity of all the cultural groups when we are planning for use of various areas. City and County must cooperate and not assume the other will cover a particular use.

§   Mark De Gregorio:  Highest impact
Acquisition dollars are getting tighter, and more must go to operations and maintenance.  Should some of the acquisition funds go for close-in spots or to the “last best places,” even if remote?  How can you make it more seamless, so there aren’t radical differences between the city and the county – like dogs on leash, etc.

§   Dave Coulson:  Highest impact.
As a community, highest impact is where we want to be.  But that’s the whole county.  How we get to that point is a step we haven’t yet taken.  Spend the money as a community to meet community’s needs.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

 

FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:

October 13, 2009

  • Carter Lake Sail Club license renewal
  • Pine beetle update
  • Whole Measures – Continue discussion
  • 2010 Fee increases
  • 2010 Regulation changes

 

Future

  • Concession Manual – Final Approval
  • Carter Lake Marina – New Contract
  • Estes Valley Campgrounds – MOU
  • Commercial Use of DNR Lands – Final Approval

 

Respectfully submitted,

Debra Wykoff

 

APPROVED:

 

 

_______________________________

Dave Coulson, Chair

 

Next regular meeting: October 13, 2009, Bison Visitor Center, 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO

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