LARIMER COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY BOARD (EAB)

 MEETING MINUTES

May 8, 2012

 

 

Members In Attendance:

 

Guests:

Melissa Chalona

 

Meegan Flenniken, LC Natural Resources

Michael Jones

 

Daylin Figgs, City of Fort Collins

Evelyn King

 

Mark Richards, LC Board of Health

Jennifer Lee

 

Debbie Healy, LC Board of Health

Ryan McShane

 

Eric Sutherland

Kate Muldoon

 

 

Joseph Wilson

 

Commissioner:

 

 

Lew Gaiter

 

 

 

 

 

Staff :

 

 

Doug Ryan

 

Introduction of Members and Guests:

Those in attendance introduced themselves.

 

Citizen Comments:

Eric Sutherland addressed the Advisory Board.  He noted that the topic of syringe disposal is on the agenda for discussion.  Mr. Sutherland stated that this is only one of many solid waste issues that need to be considered.  He recommends that the EAB take an active role in reviewing and reforming the County’s solid waste management system.  Mr. Sutherland also reiterated his comments made at the April EAB meeting indicating his disappointment that the EAB had not been consulted regarding recent County decisions concerning Magnesium chloride applications for gravel roads in communities with General Improvement Districts. 

 

Discussion Items:

Energy by Design: Oil & Gas Development on County Lands.   Meegan Flenniken gave a PowerPoint presentation and lead a discussion about the current planning process to consider the protection of natural and cultural resources on public lands that are under pressure for oil and gas development.  The planning process is being funded by the State Land Board with in-kind contributions from Larimer County and the City of Fort Collins.   Those in-kind contributions may include the results of previous inventories done by consulting firms under contact to the City or County. The Nature Conservancy is preparing the plan.  The Energy by Design planning process is described as a science based tool to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate the impacts of energy development across a region.  In this case, the region of concern is the mountain-to-plains ecosystem that encompasses the City’s Meadow Springs Ranch, Soapstone Natural Area, and the County’s Red Mountain Open Space.  The County and the City do not own the mineral rights on these lands.  Ultimately the plan will include three phases: the identification and prioritization of onsite resources, development of a mineral extraction plan based on protection of those resources, and the identification of potential offsite mitigation opportunities based on the regional ecosystem.  Currently the process is nearing completion of the first phase.  While it is relatively straightforward to identify the resources, prioritizing them is a more complex task.  The group of resource experts that has been assembled will consider a variety of factors, including listings of rare or threatened species, clustering of resources, sensitivity to development, viewsheds and professional judgment. 

 

Members has a number of questions and comments about the process.  Key elements appear to be the prioritization of natural and cultural resources, the identification of best practices for managing or mitigating potential impacts, and the willingness of mineral owners to buy in to the process. 

 

Impacts of Syringe Exchange Programs on safe disposal.   The Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) was asked to evaluate the impact of Syringe Exchange Programs on the issue of unsafe disposal of used syringes or needles by injection drug users.  This topic is timely because the Larimer County Board of Health is considering a request by the Northern Colorado AIDS Project to offer an exchange program to their injection drug using clients as part of their efforts to reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C infection. 

 

The EAB reviewed a staff background report that described published literature about syringe disposal issues, and held a detailed discussion about the topic.  Although a quorum was not present for this meeting, the members developed consensus on the following points:

 

  • Syringe Exchange Programs help to address, but do not solve, the problem of improper disposal of the syringes used by injection drug users.

 

  • Based on the available literature, it appears that Syringe Exchange Programs do not result in an increase in environmental degradation due to improper disposal of used syringes.

 

  • Syringe Exchange Programs have the potential to increase the rate of safe disposal.  Factors described in the literature that improve the performance of Syringe Exchange Programs include providing ongoing education to participants about the importance of safe disposal; operation of the program on a one-for-one or a near one-for-one exchange basis to maximize the return of used syringes; and offering outreach to the injection drug community to increase participation and proper syringe management. 

 

  • Syringe Exchange Programs need to track and report important statistics such as syringe return rates and the effect of educational efforts regarding safety issues in order to gauge and improve their performance. 

 

  • Because a Syringe Exchange Program cannot  be expected to serve all of the injection drug users in a community, additional safe disposal options should be evaluated as ways to reduce unsafe disposal.

 

The Advisory Board’s discussion also include other ideas that did not result in a consensus, but nevertheless may warrant further consideration.  Those topics include:

 

  • Some Syringe Exchange Programs mark or tag their syringes in order to facilitate tracking where they end up.  The advantage of unique marking is that program syringes that are disposed of improperly can be identified back to their source.  A disadvantage is that a well-managed program that results in even an isolated case of improper disposal come under severe criticism even though the program is in fact improving community safety.

 

  • Some members felt that if the Board of Health decides not to allow the requested program, a disposal-only program should be considered.  An advantage is that any syringes collected would improve community safety.   The major disadvantage of a disposal-only program is that without a supply of clean syringes, users do not have an incentive to dispose of their syringes or to participate in educational intervention programs. 

 

Updates:  

Michael Jones updated the Advisory Board on the status of the County’s proposal to site a radio tower on Middle Bald Mountain west of Red Feather Lakes.  The project is moving forward to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) phase.  May 7 was the deadline for proposals to prepare the environmental analyses.  A decision to select the report contractor is expected in June, with a one-year projected timeline to complete the EIS and receive a Record of Decision.  While Larimer County is the sponsor of the project, the U.S. Forest Service is the responsible federal agency and will supervise the preparation and review of the EIS.

 

EAB Issue Index:

Doug Ryan will update the Issue Index related to the topics discussed at the meeting.

 

Adjourn:

The meeting ended at 8:50 PM