Tuesday, August 9, 2011 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Bison Visitor Center , 1800 South County Road 31, Loveland, Colorado
Please call Deb at 679-4567 if you are unable to attend a meeting. Votes require a quorum. Thanks!
The August 9, 2011, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Russell Fruits at 5:36 p.m. The minutes of the July 12, 2011, meeting were approved.
Board Member Reports - none
PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda - None
§ Natural Resource Events for July: See website http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources.
DISCUSSION & ACTION ITEMS
Thompson Flood Parcels – Charlie
Johnson, Sr. Land Agent
In 1976, after the Big T flood, Larimer County acquired 153 parcels on the Big Thompson River. The County is now in the process of disposing of some of the parcels, or trading them for fishing access, etc. Many parcels have also been retained for public access.
and Charlie Johnson toured the area this week. Surveys of the Narrows area are
in process, and must happen before anything else can. Survey crews are being
used exclusively now by Engineering for road work. Once they have the
opportunity, they will be back on the Big Thompson properties.
60-day comment period ends tonight on Areas 12b and 20. Staff recommendations follow:
12b – Drake – South of the bridge
over the North Fork of the Big Thompson River
Area 12b, Recommendation #1:
Potential sale of portions of this property to previous and adjacent landowners with retention of a 10’wide fee simple strip above the top of bank for public access.
Board and staff comment:
County does not own to the center of the river; the river and across are USFS
property. No parking is available on site, but is available nearby. Possible
encroachments on one parcel would be resolved by sale. Out of the five parcels,
interest in possible sale has been expressed by two parties.
Area 12b, Recommendation #2:
That Parks Advisory Board vote for formal adoption of this parcel as requested by the Loveland Fishing Club.
Board and staff comment: Discussion followed as to what “formal adoption as requested by the Loveland Fishing Club” means and whether issues of sale and adoption on this property need to be separated. The Loveland Fishing Club has asked the county to adopt certain areas to ensure they remain in public access. This “buffer adoption” is a variation on what the Club has requested, and this parcel is a priority area for it. Gary advised the club prefers retention of this parcel; however, if the retained buffer assures public access, and the rest is surplus land which won’t be used, the surplus property should be sold. The Club has always appreciated the efforts to maintain public access. We would need to fence and/or mark buffer boundaries for clear demarcation. Deed restrictions include: no camping, no storage of vehicles, no commercial activity, in perpetuity. Jim Roode, from Loveland Fishing Club and Friends of the Big Thompson, says the fishing club is fine with this sale and conditions.
Area 20 – Glen Haven Road – Large flat area
Area 20, Recommendation #1:
Retain the entire parcel for public access.
Board and staff comment:
This recommendation would allow fishing to the center of the river, the property boundary. There could be trespass issues during river fishing. Current parking is on private property. Negotiations with Mr. Chenowith, adjacent property owner, need to occur. Ninety percent of the parcel is in the flood plain/floodway. One portion could allow parking for 4-8 cars, with good line of site down the road. There would be no need for fencing. Linda asked cows and grazing issues if fence is taken down. Charlie advised fencing is our prerogative since Colorado law is exclusionary, requiring the property owner to exclude cows. Fencing the center of the river would make fishing access difficult. Gary advised negotiation could allow grazing access. Barry Lewis thought that at the last PAB meeting, concensus was there was no problem with cattle access. Dan Rieves stated the history on this property is of responsible grazing. That could change with change of ownership. If grazing continues the same, it is fine; if grazing rate, numbers, etc. change, there could be bank damage. Frank Cada asked what the maintenance requirements would be for a parking area. Gary said build it, fence, and sign.
Public comment on Area 20, Recommendation #1:
Beverly Stroble, adjacent property owner: Presented copies of her comments which she read (attached). She also stated disappointment with the process for disposition of these properties which has been confusing to canyon residents. Their biggest concerns are noxious weeds and trees which hang over their property and buildings. They oppose the County’s maintaining this parcel and support sale to previous or adjacent landowners. They are not personally interested in purchase.
Jim Roode, Loveland Fishing Club and Friends of Big Thompson: The Loveland Fishing Club supports staff recommendations. Parking for four cars is needed, no more. Grazing is one of the most detrimental things for a fishery. He strongly recommends taking down the fencing so grazing is not a big part of this.
No other public comment.
Parks Master Plan changes: Horsetooth South Bay Campground – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
Substitution of full-hook-up campsites in place of camper cabins at the south end of the South Bay Campground.
Board and staff comment:
Dan presented projected construction costs and revenue (attached). One half of construction cost would be covered by Title 28, Bureau of Reclamation, funds with a plan to use those as grant match. It is possible very few funds from the Department’s fund balance would be required. Occupancy rate for full-service sites is projected at 45%. In response to public input, the plan was scaled back to include only nine full hookup sites, the expanded 15-site plan not being palatable to stakeholders.
Dennis Acott, neighbor: His interest is because he has property across the road. Over 100 citizens signed the petition to express that this is not an appropriate use of the area. It is a little too much too close to a residential area. Issues include visibility, noise, and disturbance of a nice hillside that provides a natural buffer between the neighborhood and the campground. These would be less desirable campsites, close to the road and away from the water. This project does not match the mission statement at the top of the agenda. They would like to see the area left as is.
Brent Acott, neighbor: He, his sons, and Jeff VanHorn circulated the petition in Kinsley and Horsetooth Heights subdivisions. All but two people in the Kinsley subdivision signed the petition, and 70% of Horsetooth Heights. The entire community on south side of Horsetooth is against the project. He likes having the buffer. RVs in these campsites will be hard-sided, tall, and obstructing the lake views from 38E and the people in the subdivision. Noise levels will increase. He asked how the 45% occupancy rate was determined. Dan advised he used both campground reservation data and campground management experience to project occupancy: based in part on technical data and part on experience. These are conservative numbers. Regardless of location, full service campsites are in high demand. The other full hookup sites aren’t in an ideal location and still have higher occupancy rates than the general campsites because there are so few. “Full service” is the key component, and there will be larger rigs in them.
Mary O’Dell, neighbor: She does not want this to happen. They have enough problems already with noise and barking dogs. Her home over looks the water and she does not want to look over this. She has had problems in the last year with things being stolen off her porch and thinks it was done by people from the campgrounds. She does not want to look off her deck and see other things. She and her husband, along with the rest of her neighbors, are not in favor of this project.
Jeff VanHorn, neighbor: He lives closest to this area and can see the entire length of the reservoir. This ruins the whole idea of the place they bought. Motorhomes aren’t camping. To increase revenue, raise camping fees for people who are actually camping rather than put in full-service sites.
Dennis Acott: Asked if the revenue figure on Dan’s spreadsheet ($57,000) is gross or net. Are there expenses against those numbers? Dan answered that it is gross revenue. While he doesn’t have the operating expenses here, they are of minimal impact. Electric and full hookup campsites are profitable. The biggest cost will be the initial capital outlay.
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
Blue Mountain District – Chris Fleming
· Carter Lake is still only 5 feet down from full. July 26 fatality was due to a medical condition.
· Trainings: Chris and another ranger were trained as arrest-control-tactics instructors.
· Staff have implemented a ranger’s new idea to use a Kendrick Extrication Device for water extractions which reduces rescue time from 20 minutes to about two minutes. It has been shown to other agencies.
· Estes Campgrounds: Dan and Chris met successfully with the Arapahoe Homeowners’ Assocation (neighbor to Mary’s Lake) who were very unhappy with the way Mary’s Lake property was run by previous managers. The furnace and filtration system at the Mary’s Lake pool have failed and will need parts replaced. It’s still very popular, though. East Portal campground has bear issues. All campgrounds are very busy and we’re turning people away every weekend.
· Hermit Park: Hermit’s Hollow campground renovations are scheduled to begin in September.
Horsetooth District - Mark Caughlan
· Boating season started out slow until water and air temps heated up. Since then, the reservoir has been continually busy, close to capacity both Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, campgrounds are half full. It will probably slow down with school starting toward August end.
· HT swim beach renovation: the pavilion, swim beach, showers, and changing rooms are busy all the time and being used to capacity.
· HT east side: Sunrise pavilion is rented almost every weekend. It is a very popular area.
· GO CO grant cycle is due on 8/26. The campsite grant is 90% ready to go. Gary will try to go to the commissioners next week, and will meet with Dennis Acott at his home next week.
· One cliff-diving incident -- she has recovered. Two rattlesnake bites - one in campground, one HTMOS. The Front Range has 2nd highest concentration of rattlesnakes in the country, next to Texas. Rattlesnakes are fat and happy this year, and grasses are high. There are a lot of snakes.
Other – Dan Rieves
Letter to the editor about Carter
Lake: Since the customer did not contact any staff, we were unable to fix the
problems and there was no way to investigate the allegations. It was
unfortunate for that visitor; but we don’t hear these complaints very often.
Board and staff comment
Russell Fruits: What is ranger rotation?
Chris: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. on a Saturday night at Carter, four rangers on duty until 2 a.m. South Shore restrooms are cleaned twice daily.
Dan: if a camper lets staff know of a problem, it is part of everyone’s job to clean up.
Gary: What are a camper’s options?
Dan: Contact a camphost, flag down a ranger, contact ANS or other staff (entrance stations), call department phone numbers. Another option could be to freely give out the non-emergency number of the Sheriff’s Office who can contact the on-duty rangers. Dan didn’t have the option to make it right.
Linda: A concern was the partying.
Glen: Is it clear to a camper what to do after 2 a.m.?
Chris: The non-emergency number is posted on the kiosk.
Ron: Can campers check in at any time?
Chris: Ninety-nine percent of campers are here by 8
or 9 p.m. Rangers will help people set up if they are coming in too late.
Dan: Rangers enforce quiet hours upon complaint, or if the noise is heard for far distances.
Horsetooth had statistic anomalies
with water testing due to the high water. It is clean and safe.
Dan attended a two-day, “functional
operations” for dam failures course with Bureau of Reclamation and 25-30
We are hiring for two positions:
Ranger for Open Spaces; Campground Reservations and Visitor Services
· Dan is researching “iron rangers” for automated paying of self-service permits in the field. These machines accept credit cards. They are expensive, but the current system is labor intensive and expensive in staffing. One iron ranger: $12,000 initial purchase & $2,000 subscription fee. A pilot project will be conducted at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space.
DIRECTOR’S REPORT – Gary Buffington
· Big Thompson Canyon properties: Commissioners approved the Bartell parcel sale, the first sale in the project to a previous owner. Twenty six out of 60 parcels have been sold to date.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:52 p.m.
Russell Fruits, Chair
Next regular meeting: September 13, 2011, in the Boyd Lake Room at the Courthouse Offices Building, 200 W. Oak St., Fort Collins, Colorado.
Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks