Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Natural Resources Administrative Offices (formerly known as the Bison Visitor Center),

1800 S. 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:

Frank Gillespie

Rob Harris

Ron Kainer

Linda Knowlton

Russ Fruits

Mark DeGregorio

Forrest Orswell

 

Staff:

Steve Johnson, Commissioner

Shannon Barnes

Gary Buffington

Mark Caughlan

Chris Fleming

Dan Rieves

Debra Wykoff

 

Absent:

Frank Cada

Barry Lewis

 

The May 8, 2012, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Russ Fruits at 5:37 p.m.  The minutes of the March 13, 2012, meeting were approved.

           

 

BOARD MEMBER REPORTS

Frank Gillespie praised the excellent preparedness of Education Program Assistant, Heather Young, for the Geology Walk classes for elementary students.  There were 50 kids and 4 volunteer naturalists.  She provided packets including magnifying glasses, photos, journals for the kids, and a 20-page teacher’s guide. 

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda - None

 

5:45      GENERAL INFORMATION:  (Questions – 5 min.)

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

  • The Visual Artist of the Year for 2012, was selected:  Photographer David Clack of Illustrated Light Gallery in Fort Collins.  Frank Gillespie served on the selection committee.
  • The Plug in to Nature GOCO project study made its debut on 3/7.  About 70 community members attended.  Our first outdoor natural play area will be located at River Bluffs Open Space.
  • The Poudre River Corridor and Regional Trail partnership grant application was submitted to GOCO on 3/16.  Staff and partners completed the site visit on 3/31, and the presentation components of GOCO’s River Corridor Initiatives RFP occurred on 4/9.  Total project cost is $10.7 million, requesting $6.5 million from GOCO.  If funded at 100%, Larimer County will receive about $877,000 from GOCO, matching with about $560,500.

§   An open house was held at Hermit Park Open Space on May 4, from 5pm-8pm, to review the draft implementation plan for limited hunting at this site.  All neighbors within a 1-mile radius were invited.  The draft plan can be found at http://larimer.org/naturalresources/hermit_hunting_mgmt_plan.pdf .  Larry Rogstad, from the Division of Wildlife was there, along with Dan Rieves and Chris Fleming.  Five people showed up, of whom four were immediate neighbors.  Emails received in advance totaled 2 adamantly opposed, and 4 enthusiastically in favor.  Comments received will be presented to the Open Lands Advisory Board in June.

  • The Colorado Open Space Alliance (COSA) annual conference will be in Steamboat on September 17-19.  Board members are encouraged to attend.
  • Larimer County 101 was presented for the third year.  Frank Gillespie attended this year.  Ron Kainer attended last year.  They praised staff’s performance as presenters of the Carter Lake simulation board game, created by staff members Rob Novak and Dan Rieves, in which players are required to allocate limited resources to multiple emergency park situations.  Chris Fleming’s parents also attended this year.
  • Gary Buffington and Kerri Rollins testified before the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs last week, on a proposal to redirect GOCO funds to veterans services and education.  The bill was killed in committee.  The Larimer County Commissioners submitted a letter opposing the bill. 
  • Gary, Kerri and Zac Wiebe attended a discussion at the Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, attended by Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, promoting a trail from the Arsenal to Lily Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park.  We may be involved, if the trail goes through Hermit Park.  An alternate route could take the trail by Carter Lake, through less rugged terrain.

 

Board and staff comment:

Linda Knowlton:  The newspaper indicated that the General Fund contribution to this department will be cut 50%, and made up by open space sales tax.  She questioned whether this would be a legal use of these funds.

 

Gary:  Yes – up to 15% of the total open space sales tax allocation for Larimer County could be directed to the Parks Fund; to date only about 4% has gone to Parks.

 

Russ Fruits:  Where is the process to renew the open space sales tax?

 

Gary:  We are currently in the process of hiring a consultant to perform a year-long regional study to identify needs throughout the county.  All park agencies in the county are participating as partners.

 

ACTION ITEMS

Annual Park Permit Redesign – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager

  • The staff recommendation is to redesign the permit to be valid for a year from date of purchase and to be fully transferable.  The price would go up $10 per permit for the new product.
  • Second vehicle permits will be eliminated; no longer needed with a fully transferable permit.  This will result in a projected revenue loss of $24,160.
  • Paddling permits will also be eliminated with a projected revenue loss of $9,660.
  • Combined permit is for a vehicle and a boat trailer – covers any number of vessels on one trailer.
  • Anticipated impact of these changes:
    • Number of permits sold will remain about the same.
    • Transferable permits will increase sales by 10%.
    • If sales decreased 14% (depending on type of permit), we would still break even, with the price increase.
    • Dan submitted a written analysis of estimated revenue impact by type of permit (resident vehicle and boat; non-resident vehicle and boat; and senior vehicle.)
  • Dan also distributed a table showing fee increases over the past 11 years.  Senior and second vehicle permit prices have never increased during that entire time.  The most recent fee increases were in 2008, which will be 5 years, by 2013, when the proposed increases would go into effect.
  • Dan displayed sample permits, which have been tested for the past two months; they have retained their stickiness and color has not faded.
  • Color will determine type – vehicle only, or vehicle and boat. 
  • No additional charge for multiple vessels like jetskis or kayaks.
  • Charging for separate jetskis has driven a lot of that use to Boyd Lake.
  • This is very similar to the program used at other similar agencies, but will be ahead of the curve compared to State Parks.
  • Rangers will have to check expiration dates on the rolling year calendar.

 

Board and staff comment:

Rob Harris:  Auditing compliance will be based on boat trailers?  [Yes]

Gary:  We’re all about customer satisfaction and convenience.  We’re trying to streamline our entire fee structure. 

 

Mark DeGregorio made, and Rob Harris seconded, a motion that the Board approve the staff recommendation.  Following the discussion, below, the motion was approved unanimously.  The proposal will now go to the County Commissioners, who may require a public hearing. 

 
 

 

 

 

 


Discussion:

Linda Knowlton:  Hopes that staff will carefully track sales and revenues for the next two years to determine whether it matches projections.

 

Dan:  Assured Linda that this will be done.

 

Rob Harris:  What is the annual revenue generated by daily permit sales?

 

Dan:  Annual sales are about 5% of total sales compared to daily permit sales.  We sold 82,790 day permits at the reservoirs last year.

 

Russ Fruits:  His buddies wanted a $10 annual pass for climbers.

 

Dan:  There is an advocate for something similar for pedestrian anglers.  The appropriate product for such users is the day permit.  If they frequent the parks enough to warrant an annual fee, then that would be a better deal. 

 

Chris Fleming:  Most climbers use our climbing areas multiple times.  These are definitely $7 climbing experiences.

 

Rob:  There are enough “pros” to offset the possible “cons”.  Sounds like it will be revenue-neutral.  How will day permits work for the multiple jetskis or kayaks?  [To be determined]

 

Dan:  The permits must be ordered early enough to be ready for December sales.  There has been very little public comment so far.

 

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

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

 

Horsetooth District:

§   The Airstream trailer is being built, and will be delivered in June.

§   The nine new full-service campsites are under construction, and will be completed soon.

§   Sail & Saddle Club license is up for renewal at the end of the year.  Put it on the agenda for next month.

§   Volunteer clean-up day at Horsetooth for CSUnity Day was a big success.  500 boy scouts removed trees from the shoreline at Inlet Bay. 

§   CAST event for disabled kids is June 2, at South Bay.

§   Youth mentoring fishing tournament – 24 teams participated last weekend.

§   Visitation has been overwhelming this year due to mild weather.  Visitation has ballooned a month and a half early; but since water levels may be low due to early, low run-off, this may help offset that.

§   The upper road to the swim beach has been paved.  This will greatly facilitate traffic flow through the boat ramp areas.

§   The triathlon scheduled for July will bring in $40,000.  Bob Herrfeldt of the Ranch is overseeing the event for the County.

§   A new county payroll system went into effect on 5/3.  This has required a major effort throughout the department to implement successfully with a large, widely dispersed seasonal work force.

 

Blue Mountain District:

  • Very heavy visitation during a low-staff time of year.  Staff can’t get to their scheduled work due to dealing with lots of people.
  • There have been 4 separate deaths near the parks, which were attended by rangers.
  • Chris and other staff have taught a firearms course and arrest control class for ranger staff.
  • Department radios are being converted to a digital format.
  • Camphosts, park ranger assistants and volunteer ranger assistants are being trained .
  • 75% complete on Fishing is Fun grant for Flatiron, with a lot of work by the Loveland Fishing Club.  The results are beautiful – far exceeding expectations!  This project improved shore access with five sets of stairs and an attractive rail fence to funnel foot traffic.
  • We are anticipating final approval from the US BOR to reopen the Cheyenne Day Use Area at Flatiron Reservoir, hopefully by mid-June, after doing some security upgrades.  This area has been closed since 9-11.
  • Employee Josh Wagoner has received his weed applicator certification to do needed work at Hermit Park and the Estes campgrounds.
  • Drainage issues at the new shower house have been repaired.  The old shower house will be renovated and open by mid-May.
  • The new director of the Estes Valley Recreation & Park District has been great to work with.
  • Eleven new toilets have been installed at Hermit Park.  Hermit’s Hollow campground has been renovated and will be open by Memorial Day weekend.

 

Other:

  • Ranger Excellence School will have around 82 rangers participating.
  • Kat Parker, seasonal ranger, has done a 600 hour internship for us doing fitness assessments for our 12 full-time rangers.  The group has lost about 30% body fat, and are now in great shape.  This was about a $10-15,000 value to the department.
  • Field Manager gatehouse test in April went well.  There will be a major test at the S. Bay gatehouse in June.
  • Facebook and Twitter are the focus of new department marketing efforts.  Areas will be hash-tagged to enable followers to follow their areas of interest.  This will eventually replace Current Conditions on the webpage.  Time-sensitive information such as wait times at boat ramps, when campsites are full, etc., will be “tweeted.”
  • Projects are in the queue for 2013 at the S. Shore of Carter Lake and at Pinewood.

 

DIRECTOR’S REPORT

·   Consultant hired to work on establishing the market value of the buildable site at the Narrows in the Big Thompson Canyon.

·   Glen Doughty resigned from the board last month.

·   The County Commissioners will be interviewing to fill four vacancies by July 1.

·   Gary solicited other topics the Board might light to hear about – no response.

·   Kerri Rollins will be scheduled in the future to give an update on the Regional Study process.

 

The Board members expressed appreciation that meetings are canceled if there is insufficient business to justify a meeting.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.

 

Next regular meeting: June 12, 2012, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., at the Natural Resources Administrative Offices, 1800 S. County Road 31, Loveland, CO.

Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks

 

 

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