Tuesday, March 8, 2011 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 W. Oak Street, Ft. Collins, CO
The March 8, 2011, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton at 5:35 p.m. The minutes of the February 8, 2011, meeting were approved.
BOARD MEMBER REPORTS–if any
PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – None
§ Environmental Education Pilot Project –consultant selection has begun, interviews will be mid-March. Larimer County was selected to assist GOCO by conducting this study. We have hired a temporary employee to assist Rob Novak, our Education Specialist, as his time will be dedicated to this project.
County Recreation Map – Jeffrey Boring, Resource Specialist II – 5-10 min.
Jeffrey reviewed changes made to the map after the last meeting, based on input from the Board and others.
§ The map will feature all of our public open space and recreation areas, and will fold to 9 in. x 3 in.; it is about 1.5 inches thick
§ Many photos have been added; the table showing features at all parks was enlarged; the Red Mountain 3-D map was added; photos have been captioned to highlight various activities.
§ The map will be free. RMNP and Fort Collins both provide free maps, and we wanted to avoid a price disadvantage that might discourage use.
§ Pioneer Printing, a local printer, will do the job for 30 cents a copy.
§ The map is cost-shared 50/50 between the Parks and Open Lands programs.
Board and staff comment:
Linda Knowlton: 100% of the cost of Ft. Collins’ map is paid by their open space tax; she thinks our Open Lands Fund should pay more of the cost. She thinks these should not be placed at trailheads, because of the expectation that people will take and discard them. These are not trail maps – they are marketing pieces. When you’re at the trailhead, you want a nice, compact map showing only the specific area where you are hiking.
Steve Schweitzer: Can we have a “reuse-recycle” logo on the
dispensers to encourage that practice?
Mark Caughlan: We have that on all our brochures – but the recycle rate is still low.
Tom Miller: How many copies are being printed? (30,000) How long
will that last?
Jeffrey: We will promote them as “keepsake” brochures to keep and use.
Steve Schweitzer: What is the distribution cycle? Is there any way to capture and forecast the incremental revenue generated by increased visitation as a result of this marketing piece? There is a world of difference between the first mock-up last month, and this will be a great tool – can’t wait to get his hands on it. He compliments the staff, despite the tough questions. Will people be able to download it and just print the portion they want? (Yes?)
Dan Rieves: It’s not so much recruitment as ‘retainment’ we’re after. Our brochures for the past 5-6 years has been a low-cost, low-grade 2-color brochures. There is a gap, which was only filled by sending people to the website. This will replace our former high-quality 4-color brochure. It was decided that the map concept was more functional and timely. We will look at how much is this fulfilling the role of other brochures we put out – we may be able to reduce the quantity of those.
Tom Miller: What is the annual budget? ($10,000) Consider putting a price on it, even though you give it free, to establish a value. It’s a beautiful piece of work.
Frank Gillespie: Where would it be available? (CSU, Visitor Centers, our Visitor Center, at meetings and presentations, entrance stations, from rangers. Trailheads are expected to be the lowest usage.)
Barry Lewis: On the display, there could be a sign telling people
they can buy additional copies on the website, for example; and recycling could
also be promoted. He could put a stack out at HP – people will love it!
Ranger Program statistics for 2010 – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
§ See handout.
§ Out of 20,650 visitor contacts in 2010, 80% were public information or assisting the visitors.
§ Of the law enforcement contacts, ½ of 1 percent resulted in arrest.
§ Alcohol and drugs and boating safety-related items are the highest percentage of penalty assessments written.
§ Penalty assessments were down to 521 in 2010.
§ Windshield tickets for vehicles without a proper pass totaled 887. 72% are paid through the mail.
§ Rangers were involved in 181 assists to the LCSD.
§ Rangers participated in 1170 hours of training in 2010.
§ Polo shirts became the new uniform of seasonal rangers.
§ A life jacket loaner program was initiated which recorded over 300 uses; but life jacket equipment violations were virtually the same as the prior year. The return rate was high, and the program was well-received by boaters.
§ In 2011, Field Manager will be implemented in a pilot program at the 3 Estes area campgrounds.
§ Another significant change will be the Ranger Excellence School, which will be one full week in May. This program combines our seasonal ranger training program with the COSA ranger training program, for rangers state-wide.
Board and staff comments:
Gary Buffington: The major take-away from these statistics is that fewer than 1% of our visitors receive tickets. The majority of tickets are boating safety, alcohol or drugs. This raises the question whether that is because that’s the majority of what happens, or because we’re looking for it?
Dan: The majority of the contacts for these issues (boating safety, alcohol or drugs) result in tickets. No park permits is the most common offense for which we write tickets – 800. But these are a less serious ticket – a windshield ticket to the vehicle. On boating violations, we use a 3-strike rule. There are several minor issues; if the boater has 3 or more violations, a ticket will be written. We do not write a ticket for one offense only. We will write the ticket for the most serious of the 3 violation.
Barry Lewis: Why does Horsetooth write 3 times more tickets than Carter?
Mark Caughlan: We are 3 times busier than Carter. The visitation is over 60% higher, and the volume of boats is higher.
Dan: There is also the CSU connection – more students recreating, increasing visitation.
Linda: Re - Dogs off leash: There are only 3 offenses shown. On any day hiking, she sees that many. Why so few tickets?
Gary: The first offense is a warning. This is the societal norm for most enforcement agencies.
Dan: The ranger has a book that explains the guidelines for issuing warnings or tickets. We have a Division level directive that no tickets shall be written unless the case report clearly shows why the directive was contradicted. Fort Collins has a strict-enforcement policy. The first offense is determined by whether there have been repeated complaints, for example.
Steve Schweitzer: How do you know you’re not giving multiple warnings to the same people?
Dan: Rangers work the same area and they become familiar with their visitors and their violators.
Russ Fruits: He did several ride-alongs with rangers last summer and it was very enlightening.
Frank Gillespie: Any violations for being off-trail on a social trail?
Dan: Being off-trail can be a violation; but the department
philosophy is to warn and educate the public. In some areas, there are social
trails everywhere – that’s a management issue. The trails aren’t in the right
places. Our trail crew is good at camouflaging social trails. If you’re
riding your mountain bike across open ground, you will probably be cited. A
social trail is a short-cut trail. We try to design well to avoid development
of social trails.
2010-2011 Budget Update – Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant
Board and staff comments:
Linda Knowlton: What accounts for the big jump in
both revenues and expenses in 2010? (The Estes campgrounds, which opened in
Commissioner Steve Johnson: What are the negative numbers? (Allocations of shared costs, moved to the programs paying for them at the end of the year.)
Gary: Highlighted the good ending fund balances.
Linda Knowlton: The take-away is that for the moment we are in pretty good shape.
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
§ Snow pack is at 110% of average. Reservoirs will be full to start the season.
§ The 2011 Fishing Expo will be on April 2-3. Mark displayed the poster for the 2011 Expo.
§ Reservoirs open to boating on April 1.
§ Horsetooth is 90% iced over.
§ Seasonal job interviews are scheduled – this is a big job this time of year.
§ Ranger School planning is underway.
§ Estes Park area properties – staffing changes include assigning an experienced ranger with retail experience to manage the Mary’s Lake Store.
§ Pilot Project for Field Manager, a web-based application for point of sales at the campgrounds, will take place at the 3 Estes locations. This system is live, online, and when fully implemented would radically change our system. Deb has had one employee dedicated to this project full-time since last fall.
§ ANS program is funded for 2011 at the same level; no funding yet identified for 2012. Hours of operation will be the same as last year, when hours were expanded.
§ The Carter Lake Marina license has been presented to the Waldburgers. We are awaiting their response.
§ 125 people will attend the Ranger Excellence School. About 50 of those slots are reserved for our seasonal staff. Eventually, this will expand into a western regional US effort. We have borne the burden of planning and providing most of the instructors. In exchange, we pay no registration fees. In the future, if it moves to a more expensive venue, the costs will be passed on to the registrants. Excess fees go toward seed money for the next year’s event. We had $4500 seed money this year, and expect to repeat that for next year. We were able to negotiate very favorable deals with The Ranch and with the instructors. Colorado State Parks does not participate because they have a large enough staff to hold their own training. The cooperative training allows smaller agencies with only a few staff to have access to high quality training. This year, 20 different agencies are participating. We’ve had requests from CSU students also to attend. If there are extra spaces, those will be available to students. The county is paying the regular price for use of the building.
Board and Staff comments:
Commissioner Steve Johnson: How many attending (125) and do Larimer County rangers have to pay the $125 fee? (No.) Do we make any revenue from it? (No.)
Steve Schweitzer: Could this be retooled for other states? (Yes – in the future we may invite other states to our school.)
Is it limited to Colorado employees? (Yes, this
Thompson Fishing Access – Gary Buffington and Charlie Johnson, Sr. Land Agent
– 10 minutes
No new information will be presented at this meeting. The Board will continue to receive public comment on the three areas presented at the Board meeting on 2/8/11:
§ Area 5 – Narrows
§ Area 7 – Indian Village
§ Area 23 – Bartels Parcel
Walt Graul: On behalf the Friends of the Big Thompson River. The Drake magazine for flyfishers includes a very positive article about fishing access on the Big Thompson, and also an article by Steve Schweitzer. From the letter he submitted, it is clear that the Friends feel strongly about not selling off the properties subject to fishing access easements. They advocate retaining ownership of the properties. He circulated two photos of County property and private property both marked by signs showing no trespassing signs. A fishing easement is too difficult to track in future years, and it inhibits public use because it becomes virtually unenforceable, and fishermen are reluctant to take the chance because they could lose their fishing license for trespass.
One point is whether the County could acquire the City’s sliver of land and thereby gain ownership of both banks. They are supportive of that option on Indian Village. On Bartels, they did not include it in their recommended areas to keep – it isn’t suitable for public fishing, so they have no problem with the County proposal to sell it.
Tom Miller: To reiterate: The fishing community doesn’t care about Bartels. The county proposal on Indian Village is appropriate. So the issue is the Narrows parcel. Is there something specific that the Friends would like to see there?
Walt: Keep existing fishing access. Acquire the north side on the east half of the Narrows parcel, and keep fee title.
Commissioner Steve Johnson: Are those no trespassing signs on public property? How do anglers know where they can go? Does the County take those down when we see them? (Yes.)
Walt : Yes. According to our maps, those are county parcels.
Gary: It’s not unusual to see encroachments up and down the canyon – some landowners think they do own the property, and encroach inadvertently.
Steve: From the Friends perspective, what’s the benefit of owning that strip, when you can fish from the other side?
Walt: It creates friction with private landowners because not every angler knows which side is public, so inadvertent trespass occurs.
Adam Buna: Property owner on the north and the south side going west. He has cabins. His property line goes to the middle of the river. He is the most affected constituent on the Narrows parcel, as the others are not as close to the public access. If we sell it, he prefers that we sell it all, and do not create a strip along the bank to the middle of the river. He has had a lot of issues with the public trespassing – dogs unleashed. 95% of the time there is no problem in the past year.
If the County sells it, he thinks we should sell it and allow a house to be built up on the hill. That’s the highest and best use, as a 10-acre building site. The county can make the most money that way. There is a developable home site up on top. If the county reserves a strip, it reduces the value of the home site. As a private homeowner, you don’t want everybody and his brother hanging out in your back yard. Even without development rights, the parcel is valuable, more so without public access.
If the County follows its own proposal, the signing will be very difficult – the public will have to be restricted to the center of the river, with bank access on only one side, etc.
With public fishing, the good fishing dwindles because the big fish get taken out. He requests that it be catch and release, to preserve the good fishing for everyone.
He would be a buyer under any of the three options. How will the County patrol that 20 ft. strip? Charlie says you’ll sign it. But lots of people don’t read signs. It doesn’t feel that comfortable to sit in his back yard with the public wandering back and forth.
He didn’t hear about the County’s plans until he read it in the paper. He acknowledges and appreciates the efforts of the fishing groups to educate anglers – he can see an improvement as a result.
Board and staff comment:
Linda Knowlton: Encouraged him to submit his comments in writing.
Gary Buffington: Noted that the 60 day comment period is a minimum; we can take as long as needed to reach a good decision. We’ve heard from both sides, both landowner and public anglers. Staff’s first order of business is to keep the river and the banks on both sides, but he doesn’t want to take anything out of the tool box at this point. Charlie will continue to negotiate with all the interested parties. The city is open to talking about their parcel.
Steve Schweitzer: Are there legal restrictions that limit ownership to the middle of the river? (Yes – historical division of title.) Does it require having a strip of land owned to allow use of the entire river? Is there another way to think about it – to get past the middle of the river thing? (Colorado law governs, based on what the deed says.)
Mark DeGregorio: The intent is to give people enough room to walk along the bank. If we sell them, will they be deed-restricted? (Yes.)
Gary: That is an historical situation.
Tom Miller: The county bought the properties after the flood, with a prohibition on building in the floodplain.
Gary: You can still build above the flood plain – the Narrows parcel does have an area above the flood plain.
Frank Cada: How wide should the buffer be if we decide to go that route? 10 feet isn’t enough – some of the rocks are that big. How wide was the buffer at Hayden? We need to see it to get an understanding of what is required.
Gary: It depends on the elevation of the land.
Tom Miller: There’s a great need for signage – it’s defacto privatized as it stands.
Dan: We’re working through the signage program right now. Chris Fleming and Charlie Johnson are working on it for all these parcels. Some are much more complicated than the Narrows.
Linda Knowlton: There was mention of a field trip at the last meeting. We need to do that before the next meeting.
Frank Cada: How do we get at the north side of the Narrows without wading the river? For the field trip, how will we access it? (Staff will arrange access across the neighboring property.)
Gary: Staff will coordinate the details of the field trip.
Steve Schweitzer: How does the fishing regulation on an area of the river get changed?
Dan: The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) determines that. It was an involved process to establish the existing rules for the health of the fishery – they won’t want to piecemeal the catch and release area.
Steve Schweitzer: Sounds like a cumbersome, lengthy, and expensive process.
Frank Cada: CDOW does not stock this part of the river, but a private owner does stock at Cedar Cove.
Linda Knowlton: Next month, the Board will have a proposal from Staff for the disposition of these properties. She requests that this proposal be made available to the public and to the Board before the meeting.
Gary: Charlie may need more time than that to finish his work.
Ken Rude: Secretary of the Loveland Fishing Club. He supports the position of the Friends group. They would also support catch and release. They like the idea of acquiring the south side. This is a highly fishable piece of water and they oppose getting rid of it. They will fight harder for this than for the fishing access at Drake.
DIRECTOR’S REPORT - Gary Buffington
· The County is requiring performance measures for each department and program for the 2012 budget evaluation process. We are currently identifying our major outcomes and the pertinent performance measures.
Tom Miller: The commissioners should keep in mind that parks are an essential service.
Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.
Linda Knowlton, Chair
Next regular meeting: April 12, 2011, at the Bison Visitor Center, 1800 S. County Road 31, Loveland, CO
Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks