Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

 

Thursday, July 27, 2006 – 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Loveland Library MP Room

 

The mission of the Larimer County Open Lands Program is to preserve and protect significant open space, natural areas, wildlife habitat, develop parks and trails for present and future generations.  These open lands provide opportunities for leisure, human renewal and protection of our natural and cultural resources.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 


Present:

Open Lands Board Members:

Brian Hayes

Ben Manvel

Duane Pond

Bill Pinkham

Sue Sparling

Bill Newman

Jean Carpenter

Bob Streeter

Peter Kast

Jim White

 

Staff

Jerry White

Kerri Rollins

Meegan Flenniken

Gary Buffington

K-Lynn Cameron

Charlie Johnson

Ernst Strenge

Dave Ciani

 

Absent: 

Mark DeGregorio

Ted Swanson

 

Chair, Peter Kast called the meeting to order at 5:10 p.m.

 

Duane motioned to approve the minutes of June 22, 2006.  The motion was seconded by Jean with amendment and was unanimous.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

Bill Jenkins thanked and commended the staff and Board for their efforts on the Blue Sky Trail.  Robert and Lori Smith of 7762 Spring Glade Road (south of Rimrock Open Space) and had questions about emergency fire access, fence maintenance and replacing the no trespassing signs we originally installed that have blown off.  Meegan will work with him on these concerns.  He thanked the staff for working with them now and in the past. 

 

BOARD COMMENT: Jean asked the status of the runway expansion at the Fort Collins-Loveland airport.  Ernst said he has met with the Director of the airport and it appears they are not pursuing this option of expanding to the north.  Ben said the master plan has been approved by both Fort Collins and Loveland councils.  Nothing has been approved to go forward yet, but it is being looked at for the runway to extend to the south for planes approaching from the north, which will have the least impact on Fossil Creek than other options.  Any improvements would not take place for at least 5 years.

 

 

 

PRESENTATION:

·  Blue Sky Trail Interpretation Survey Results – Dave Ciani, Open Lands Intern

Dave introduced his final project, which was a survey used opening day of the Blue Sky Trail (BST) to assess public expectations and desires for interpretive programming.

 

Surveys were administered at the Soderberg and Devil’s Backbone open space trailheads and at a midpoint along the trail. There were 113 (65%) surveys returned.  Hiking and mountain biking were found to be the highest uses on the trail that day.  The majority of people (63%) preferred to see signs along the trail as the medium to communication information and almost 1/3 of respondents indicated they would not like to see interpretive programs on the BST.  Dave said this could be because the BST is a regional trail and not close in proximity to the trailheads that provide access to it. 

 

Dave discussed limitations to the study, including the hot weather, survey size, and limited access to the trail.  Main recommendations from the survey include development of a brochure displaying a map with all trails in Larimer County, a mountain peaks locater sign, expanding the existing walking brochure of the Devil’s Backbone, a viewing area for the golden eagle nest, multi-use ethic promotion, and awareness of the BST name and history.

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  On July 6 and 7, 2006, staff conducted field visits to the 7 high priority regional trails for the County Commissioners similar to field visits for OLAB in late May.

·  On July 11 and 12, 2006, Open Houses for the Parks Master Plan were held in Loveland at Mountain View High School and in Fort Collins at the Senior Center.  For those who attended, interest was high.  Check the website at www.larimer.org/parks 

·  Design of the 2007 Parks and Open Lands calendar is underway and we are looking for sponsors.  Can you help?!  Contact Kerri Rollins at krollins@larimer.org or 619-4577.

·  Open Lands staff held their midyear retreat on July 18, 2006 to check the progress of the 2006 Work Plan. Things are going well and progress is on track.

·  NEW!! The Colorado Lottery is now is now sponsoring a Starburst Award for Conservation and those awards will be awarded at the COSA Conference on an annual basis.

·  Parks and Open Lands will participate in 2 festivals this year to promote our programs – the New West Fest (8/19 & 8/20) and the Loveland Corn Roast Festival 8/26.  Any Board members interested in participating?

·  The 1st meeting of the Northern Colorado Networking Forum will be held on August 4th at the Golden Corral in Fort Collins.  This networking organization will facilitate discussions that will lead to more efficient and effective ways to plan and implement programs.

·  COSA Conference in Aspen on September 21 and 22, 2006.  The Open Lands Program will fund OLAB member attendance.  Any board members interested  are encouraged to attend!!

·  A tour to Phantom Canyon has been scheduled with The Nature Conservancy for Board members and their families on Friday, September 15, 2006.  RSVP to Kerri.

·  Jim White went on a tour to Soapstone with the City of Fort Collins and their board.  He enjoyed the trip and found it very interesting. 

·  Duane Pond is vice chair on the Planning Commission, and previous OLAB member Nancy Wallace is Chair. 

 

 

ACTION:

·  Small Grants Program Criteria – Ernst reviewed the changes on the criteria made from last months’ discussion.  Ernst said the scorecard will be an evolving document and will not be voted on.  Bob & Sue noted Ernst did a good job of fine-tuning the criteria.

Bob Streeter motioned that the criteria be adopted; Jim White seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

·  GOCO letter of support for a mini grant that Greg is writing to fund implementing a portion of the Habitat Improvement Plan at Fossil Creek Open Space.  Kerri reviewed the grant components - we will be asking for about $5,000.  Peter read the letter aloud to the Board. 

Duane Pond motioned to submit the letter of support; Bob Streeter seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

DISCUSSION:

·  Parks Master Plan – Drew Stoll, EDAW handed out the schedule of meeting dates for the public process and the goals, policies and objectives of the project based on the counties vision statement.  He also noted the project web page: www.larimer.org/parks/masterplan  Drew reviewed the players of the planning team, the parks task force, the stakeholders and the public. 

 

Drew presented the relationship between the Master Plan and the Resource Management Plan (RMP).  Previously they were separate documents, but now they will be combined into one.  The current plans are about 7 years beyond their intended life and are due to be updated, providing an opportunity to incorporate new ideas and possibilities.  Plan development started in March 2006 and is expected to be completed in February 2007.  Drew reviewed the major accomplishments since the 1993 Parks Master Plan was developed, including the creation of the Open Lands Program. 

 

A survey was conducted in 2005 to gather information from reservoir park visitors.  Drew reviewed the statistics and results of the survey, including information on how visitors feel about fees, their experiences while at the reservoirs, and their feelings of crowdedness.  The addition of showers and water in the campgrounds were the top additions needed at the campgrounds according to respondents.  Other public comments included the fear of HTMP becoming an open space without fees because it is already very popular and if it is free it could be “overrun”, as well as residents in the Pinewood area not wanting to see camper cabins built on that reservoir.  Key issues and opportunities lists, developed by staff, Task Force members, stakeholders and the public included the need to develop additional recreation opportunities for cabins, bouldering, rowing etc; improve public outreach; and resolve the issue of limited funding for the Parks Program.  Opportunities include providing program facilities in the parks, limiting fuel cans on boats to prevent water contamination, and managing other existing public lands such as Picnic Rock.  Bob requested the word “should” be changed to “could” in reference to the identified opportunity of “HTMP should be managed by the OLP.”

 

Bob asked about swim beaches being a potential good money maker since fluctuation of the reservoirs can affect the quality of the beach.  Gary said it would take a lot of sand to make the beach better, but hasn’t evaluated the costs at this point.  He said camping is a better money maker than the beaches.  K-Lynn said she knows people who go to Boyd Lake to swim.  Jerry asked if there has been discussion about charging more for out of County residents.  Drew said there are federal regulations that prohibit discriminating access by charging significantly different fees for out of county visitors on federal lands.  Bob asked if there was any consideration of some of the parks becoming State Parks.  Drew said not from the public but it was discussed.

 

·  Regional Trails update (enclosure).  Ernst reviewed the spreadsheet enclosed in the packet.  He noted that the 2 trails with the lowest priority are the 2 most achievable projects.  Ernst reviewed, in order, the status of the top seven trail priorities listed on the spreadsheet.  Bill noted the priorities were not reordered according to the Board discussion.  K-Lynn said she did not want to lose the momentum on the Poudre River Trail as she heard that that was the biggest priority, while continuing work on the more achievable projects.    K-Lynn said we also have to work within our budget and when these trails come into service.  None of the trails are scheduled to become operative in the next year.  Currently Duck Lake and Long View are scheduled to come into service in 2008 and the Poudre River Trail in 2010.  Peter recommended moving Red-tail Ridge to the bottom.  Jean asked if the projected service date could be added to the spreadsheet. 

 

·  Long-term Management Fund Projections (handout).  K-Lynn said staff and the Finance Subcommittee (Peter, Ted, Bill, Bob) met to review the assumptions made on our long-term management spreadsheet.  Because this document is an important tool we must review the assumptions every now and again.  Because it is a tool, it is updated and modified as new information becomes available.  These numbers are not concrete facts, they are projections. 

 

In 2005 the format of the spreadsheet changed to show cost accounting for each individual open space.  With this change, each area has its own budget.  The numbers represented in the 2005 column are actual numbers.  K-Lynn explained the 20% increase between 2006 and 2006.  Because this was the first time implementing cost accounting, managers had little idea how much it would really cost to manager their areas.  They were ultra conservative and did not manage to the level we wanted and came out ahead in the 2005 budget.  Thus, we have predicted a 20% increase for 2006 to reestablish our base.  Bill noted a huge difference between the amounts of funding for Level 1 as compared to Level 3 and Ben noted that Level 2 and 3 are very much the same.  K-Lynn explained this is our knowledge to date, and because we don’t have many properties that have been opened to the public for very long we expect these could change and/or categories can be combined.  Regional trail costs are another area that could change as we gather more data.  Peter noted that many other open space programs do not have tracking systems such as this and Larimer County is one of the leaders in this area. 

 

Looking at box 2 it shows what percent of the tax that is set aside for management from 1996-2018.  Over the life of the tax funds for management can not go over 30% or under 15%.  Currently we are setting aside 30% (the maximum) for management.  Currently sales

tax revenue is projected at 3% increase from now till 2018 (tax sunset).  This figure is projected by our Finance Department and is looked at on an annual basis and can be modified.  The projected rate of annual expense is 6% based on Lori’s research.   Most of this has to do with personnel costs, primarily salaries.  Interest income rate of 4% is worked on with the Finance Department and other revenue such as leases is projected at 2%. 

 

 

DIRECTOR'S REPORT:  Gary said he was on vacation for last 5 days.  He brought a copy of Money Magazine he got at LAX airport that features Horsetooth Reservoir on the cover. 

 

Gary discussed the water levels at Horsetooth Reservoir.  With record breaking heat the marina will be out of the water by middle of August.   There should be enough water in Horsetooth to service recreation till September.  Currently there is more water in Carter than Horsetooth and Gary is discussing this with BOR now.  It’s been a long summer for staff.  There have been 4 deaths at the reservoirs/parks this summer. 

 

Jean asked about the dissolved oxygen levels at Horsetooth Reservoir and how they affect fish.  Gary said so far there have not been any fish die offs.  He suspects the growth of organic matter when the reservoir was down has contributed to the peak in oxygen.  We are currently being watched by EPA for next 7 years but we feel confident we will pass. 

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Duane at 7:45 p.m.  The motion was seconded by Jean and carried unanimously. 

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  (24-6-402(4) (a)C.R.S. Purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest. Duane Pond moved to go in to Executive Session. Sue Sparling seconded the motion.   

 

Executive session adjourned at 8:27 p.m.  Duane motioned we adjourn.  The motion was seconded by Sue Sparling and passed unanimously.

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