Loveland Bike Trail
 

LARIMER COUNTY OPEN LANDS ADVISORY BOARD MEETING

MINUTES

Thursday, July 28, 2005 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Loveland Library Multipurpose 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

Duane Pond

Lori Jeffrey-Clark

Bob Streeter

Bill Newman

Jean Carpenter

Sue Sparling

Mark DeGregorio

Jim White

 

 

Staff

Dannielle Chenoweth

Jerry White

K-Lynn Cameron

Meegan Flennniken

Karen Wagner

Kerri Rollins

Charlie Johnson

Gary Buffington

 

 

 

Absent: 

Ben Manvel

Peter Kast

Ted Swanson

 

 

Vice Chair, Sue Sparling called the meeting to order at 5:14 p.m.

 

Duane Pond motioned to approve the minutes of June 2005 with a correction in the Discussion items section under finance subcommittee, change 1% to .1 and 1.5% to .15.  The motion was seconded by Bob Streeter and passed unanimously.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  The Western Business Conference was held in Denver on July 7. 2005 and Kerri presented the Laramie Foothills: Mountains to Plains Project as an exemplary conservation partnership.

·  Outside Magazine identified Fort Collins as one of the top 10 cities to live in and cited the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains Project as a reason.  K-Lynn handed out a copy of the article.

·  K-Lynn, Gary, Travis and Danielle met with Fort Collins/Loveland Airport officials to discuss the runway master plan.  Officials are looking at extending the runway to attract larger airlines and improve the economy in the Fort Collins/Loveland area.  The runway could be extended by 1,000 feet in either the north or south direction, or by 500 feet in both directions.  If extended to the north, CR30 would need to be re-routed.  If that happens it could be rerouted in to our easement, which does not allow for paved roads.  Because of this, this option may not be as favorable for airport officials.

 

K-Lynn then elaborated on procedures followed by pilots at takeoff and landing, particularly precision landing techniques, and how use of the runway is affected by this.  Currently, if coming from the north, they can’t do precision landing and must take a long approach to the runway, crossing over Fossil Creek Reservoir which causes a tremendous amount of noise and disturbance.  Technology is evolving where hopefully they won’t have to do that in the near future. 

·  The Open Lands Board Picnic at Red Mountain Ranch on July 31st, meeting at the Courthouse at 9am.  Reserve the date.  For those interested, we will offer hikes and/or drives before the picnic lunch.  Please RSVP to Kerri.

·  Lightening started a small wildfire on Indian Creek on July 20, 2005.

·  Small Grants Program applications will be available in September.  The Small Grants Program Subcommittee currently includes Sue, Bob, Duane, Jean and Bill.  Members confirmed the subcommittee will stay the same for 2006.  

·  1st Annual Northern Colorado Birding Fair to be held at Fossil Creek Reservoir Open Space Saturday, September 24, 2005.  This event will take place from 8:30am – 2pm with confirmed speakers such as Jerry Craig and Kevin Cook.  This is a partnership effort in conjunction with the Division of Wildlife, City of Fort Collins, Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and the Fort Collins Audubon Society.  Local vendors will man booths and there will be plenty of birding activities going on all day!

·  Upcoming Regional Trail Prioritization Exercise.  K-Lynn talked about the trail prioritization exercise that will happen at next months meeting.  The goal is to prioritize the building of about 200 miles of trail identified in the Open Lands Master Plan (2001).

·  Red Mountain Ranch.  The 1800-acre Wyoming portion of the Red Mountain Ranch, owned by The Nature Conservancy, was sold to the City of Cheyenne.  K-Lynn will continue meeting with Mike Abel of the City to maintain a good working relationship

·  The Board of County Commissioners approved a request from the City of Fort Collins to annex the area from County Road 32 north, and from I-25 west as an expansion of their Growth Management Area.  This includes our Fossil Creek Open Space.  This will be made final with action from Fort Collins City Council in October.

 

BOARD COMMENT

No comments from the Board regarding items not on the agenda.

 

ACTION:

·  Lease for hunting on Eagle’s Nest Open Space with the Division of Wildlife (DOW).  See packet enclosure.  This lease was modeled after Lory State Park’s policy for hunting.  Hunters would be allowed access to USFS lands through this open space during rifle season.  Rifles must be unloaded and in cases when crossing the open space.  Overnight parking will not be allowed.  Larimer County reserves the right to extend or terminate the lease on an annual basis.  DOW will pay $2,000 per year and provide Larimer County with annual reports on numbers of animals taken.

Bob moved to recommend the Board of County Commissioners approve the hunting lease with the Division of Wildlife.  Jim seconded, and the motion passed unanimously. 

 

·  Acquisition Process for Open Lands, Parks and Trails.  See enclosure.  Jerry reviewed the changes discussed last time that were made to the document.  Bill asked if the box that discusses field trips (box #6) could be moved up to #5, essentially switching boxes #5 and #6 so that a field trip could be done before negotiations begin. Jerry agreed.

Jim moved to approve the Acquisition Process for Open Lands, Parks and Trails as amended with Bob's suggestions.  Bob seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.

 

·  Best Side Manor Inc. proposal for an Animal Sanctuary on Red Mountain Ranch.  Bob said he encouraged the group to work with the Humane Society.  He is afraid it would open the door to other groups who also feel this type of work is important, i.e. a horse sanctuary, wolf sanctuary.  Mark, Jim and Lori agreed that this does not meet the mission of the Open Lands Program or the intent of the ballot language.  Bob asked if this were a raptor rehabilitation program, would we consider it as that is more in line with our mission.  K-Lynn said that has actually already been considered and was determined to be something that is not workable for this program.  Bob suggested we created a policy on this to give direction on these types of issues in the future. 

Duane moved to deny the proposal by Bedside Manor Inc. for an animal sanctuary at Red Mountain Ranch.  Mark seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.

 

 

Discussion Items

·  Chimney Hollow Stewardship Plan – we paid $3.8 million for the 1800+ acres on the western side.  NCWCD bought 1600 on the east side for their potential reservoir.  GOCO, who granted $950,000 to the project, requires a Stewardship Plan within one year of the grant award.  We won’t be doing a full management plan until closer to the property opening in 2010.  The property won't be open to the public till NCWCD completes the dam. 

 

Meegan reviewed the ownership history of the property and the natural resources found there, including forest stands and significant plant and animal species.  Meegan worked with Merrill Kaufmann of the USFS, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) on gathering resource information for this plan.  The weeds have also been mapped and are being treated at this property.  Bob suggested a note on page four regarding fencing and grazing.  Bill asked if the NCWCD is aware of the active golden eagle nests.  Jerry said as part of their NEPA process they must take that in to consideration.  Meegan said the water level will be well below the nests.

 

Management actions being considered include weed mitigation, revegetation of some areas with native species, elk number monitoring, and preble’s trapping in some drainages.  A forest management plan will also be developed and implemented.  Meegan asked for thoughts on what to do with house located near County Road 18.  Bob suggested the fire departments might want to use them for practice.  Meegan said they are not entertaining such options anymore to her knowledge.  Jim suggested calling Berthoud Police Department.  Meegan said she will look into this further.  Guided public tours are also occurring on the property.  Please give Meegan comments on the plan.  The plan will come back to the Board next month for adoption recommendation.

·  Finance Committee Report – As Peter is in Alaska, K-Lynn reviewed discussions from the meeting.  Initially the committee was charged with making a recommendation to the BOCC in August, but since Peter will be on vacation for much of July staff has sought and received permission from BOCC to extend by a month until September.

 

Right now we have a .25 tax for open space.  Larimer County receives .1 of that allocation and the cities receive .15, or essentially a 40/60 split.  Based on projections for 25 years past our current sunset date of 2018, it will take .083 to manage existing open lands.  It has also been determined there are about $66 million in land protection and trail projects that are still needing done.  So, there must still be acquisition and development dollars coming in.  Currently 70% goes to acquisition and development, while 30% goes to management.  Over the life of the sales tax, we have also leveraged our acquisition dollars for $1.50 for every $1 of sales tax.  Instead of 70% for acquisition and development perhaps we can do 50%, knowing we can leverage our dollars to bring it closer to the $66 million.  The next step was to determine how much it would cost to develop and maintain those new lands.  This is thought to be about $199 million, which results in a new tax that would need to be .123 for new acquisition and development as well as management for these new lands. 

 

The group also considered how much it would take to help the Parks fund.  Gary indicated a .023 subsidy would work to help the Parks Program.  Totaled this would be a .229 tax.  We currently have a .25 so that could work.  Essentially this means that Larimer County would get 82% of the sales tax and the cities would get 16%.  This would not gain much support from the cities, and would significantly impact their programs.  If we were to keep the cities where they were at, .15, then we would need a .379 tax which is more than our .25 and takes up much of the 1% tax amount allowed by the county.  K-Lynn talked about SB174 that was vetoed by the Governor this year, which would have allowed county's to go beyond their current tax limit of 1% for conservation purposes only.  If that were to pass in the future then .379 might be ok, if not we would have to consider going to the cities to negotiate the percent splits.  Mark pointed out that our future with GOCO is uncertain and could affect these scenarios.  He also said in the future the cities could/should have their own sales taxes and won’t need county money.  K-Lynn pointed out that if a bill such as SB174 were to pass in the future, and we could go back for a .379 tax that can be shared with the cities, then the entire county votes on it and it could essentially help cities like Loveland getting dedicated money by having the population of Fort Collins helping to pass a county measure.  Karen pointed out that none of the open space taxes have passed the first time and over a few years Loveland’s growth could change the dynamic. 

 

Karen asked Gary what the parks subsidy would cover.  He said the biggest issue is wage increases that he can’t keep up with.  That amounts to about a 10% increase per year, except for last year where it was capped at 4-5%.  The subsidy would amount to about $100,000 a year which would help considerably, especially if the County continues to cap the wage increases in the future.  Bill asked if we use seasonals as much as possible.  Gary said they do, almost to a three to one ratio.  Jean asked why there isn't a tax just for parks.  Gary said that since the parks charges fees it would be difficult to get it passed.  K-Lynn added that people don't vote in taxes to maintain parks that have been around since 1954.  Parks are also built on federal lands, which they pay taxes for, then they pay fees to be there, then they would pay taxes to maintain and improve them.

 

·  County Open Space Sales Tax recognition program sign.  See enclosure. 

Danielle reviewed that this idea came about because K-Lynn and Bill have been meeting with the cities and towns that receive sales tax dollars for their projects, finding out how they are spending the money.  In a meeting with Estes Park it was discussed that more people would be aware of how tax dollars were being spent if we could provide a sign that indicated such.

 

Danielle reviewed the design and costs of the sign.  Cities would have the opportunity to use our sign or include the acknowledgement in their own sign.  Mark suggested adding “Your” in front of “Larimer County” on the sign.  Jim suggested not to give people the leeway to do their own signs without some guidelines from us.  Karen asked how this would work with partnerships such as Fort Collins. K-Lynn said that if, for example, the project was an acquisition with public access we would approach it similarly to the way we work with GOCO.  They could acknowledge us at a trailhead sign as having contributed to the project.

 

DIRECTORS REPORT

Noxious weeds are in full bloom after drought.  Mike Carroll has doubled enforcement this year.  Visitation is up in parks about 20%, as are revenues.  It has been a safe season so far.  Camper cabins are booked every weekend and most weekdays.  A vision plan will be given to the BOCC in the next few weeks to talk about the new master plan for the Parks Program.  The current plan is 12 years old.  A citizen board will be developed to guide through this plan, and members of this board will eventually evolve to a Parks Board that will work with OLAB on future issues.  A consultant will be hired to oversee the master planning project.  Karen asked about hiring CSU instead of a consultant.  Gary said CSU’s overhead charge policy makes it cost prohibitive as they add 40% to the estimated project cost. 

 

Mark said he’s been approached with questions about the status of the Field of Dreams.  Gary said he met with the BOCC about a year ago and decided to start charging at this access.  However that did not occur because the Spring Canyon Water District, who owns the land, also considered liability of having the public on private property and decided to close the property.  Gary said it is mostly used by local community but no one has stepped forward to take responsibility for mowing, etc. and Larimer County has been doing it for free – including replacing a water pump that went out.  However, the county can’t recoup maintenance costs because the parking area is closed.  The County does not have the funding to maintain the costs for much longer.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  Duane moved to go into Executive Session as provided by (24-6-402(4)(a) C.R.S.  The motion was seconded by Jean.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Duane and seconded by Bill and carried unanimously.  The meeting concluded at 8:05 pm.

 

 

Background Image: Loveland Bike Trail by Sharon Veit. All rights reserved.