Loveland Bike Trail
 

 

Thursday, September 27, 2007 – 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:

Don Griffith

Bill Newman

Jean Carpenter

Peter Kast

Bob Streeter

Nancy Wallace

Brian Hayes

Jim White

Ben Manvel

Bill Pinkham

Ted Swanson

 

 

Staff

Kerri Rollins

K-Lynn Cameron

Meegan Flenniken

Windy Kelley

 

Jerry White

 

Absent: 

Sue Sparling

 

 

Chair, Peter Kast called the meeting to order at 5:19 p.m.

 

Bob motioned to approve the August minutes.  Ben seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS

·  The second Hermit Park public meetings were held on August 30th (Estes Valley) and September 6th (Loveland). A total of 30 people attended these two meetings.

·  The Pleasant Valley Trail construction was completed and opened on September 4th.

·  A $695,000 grant proposal was submitted to GOCO for the Northern Colorado Recreation Improvement and Expansion Project” at Horsetooth Reservoir.

·  The 8th Annual COSA Conference, hosted in Steamboat Springs, was yet another success! Open Lands staff as well as OLAB members Sue and Peter attended the conference. Positive feedback was given, particularly for the extension of the conference to 2 ½ days. Kerri and K-Lynn both served on the steering committee for the 8th year and Meegan presented at three sessions. Next years conference will be held in Estes Park. The first weekend to rent cabins at Hermit Park Open Space was September 14th. We received good feedback from visitors on their stay and in particular on the naturalist program. Almost all of the cabins have been rented for the soft-opening. Bob shared his experience staying in a cabin.

·  The grand re-opening for Horsetooth Mountain Park was on Saturday, September 22nd. This was also a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the purchase of the first 2,027 acres of Horsetooth Mountain Park property.

·  An all staff retreat was held at Hermit Park Open Space on September 24th. This was the first opportunity for many administration and parks staff to visit the property.

·  The 3rd Annual Northern Colorado Birding Fair is this Saturday, September 29th at Fossil Creek Regional Reservoir Open Space.

·  The prescribed fire (take two) for cheatgrass management in the Indian Creek Valley at Devil’s Backbone Open Space that was postponed from this past spring, has been re-scheduled for October.

·  Open Lands staff will attend the LTA conference October 3 – 6th in Denver. We will be hosting a field trip to Sylvan Dale Ranch conservation easement partnership project. K-Lynn and Meegan were selected to present a session on the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains Project with Fort Collins staff. Additionally, Meegan, Peter Newman and Jim Wurz, were invited to present a session on management zoning. K-Lynn noted the field trip is full.

·  The Friends of Larimer County Parks & Open Lands will have fundraising booths at the Whole Foods in Fort Collins and Boulder for Hermit Park Open Space on Wednesday, October 10th.

·  This years volunteer appreciation event will be Saturday, October 20th from 3:30 – 6 p.m. The event will take place at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. The total volunteer hours in 2006 was 23,956 as of last week 23,095 volunteer hours have been reported in 2007.

·  The Friends of Larimer County Parks & Open Lands are hosting two volunteer days on Saturday, October 20th and Sunday the 21st at Hermit Park Open Space. The Friends group received a $5,000 grant from REI which will be used to purchase work tools for Hermit Park.

·  The Continuing Education seminar for appraiser, attorneys, accountants and realtors will be Thursday, November 1st at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins.

·  The Open Lands Program was awarded the Starburst Conservation award for the Laramie Foothills: Mountains to Plains Project. The Colorado Lottery awards the Starburst award series annually. Bob took a moment to recognize the outstanding work of the Open Lands staff and Larimer County in the field of conservation.

·  The November OLAB meeting will be on Thursday, November 29th at the Loveland Library.

 

BOARD COMMENT:

·  No comment.

 

ACTION:

·  Election of Chair and Vice Chair: Bob nominated Sue as Vice Chair, Jean seconded. Jim nominated Nancy as Chair, Bob seconded. Both nominations passed unanimously.

·  Red Mountain Open Space Management Plan (please bring your copy from July’s meeting handout).

Meegan noted we have not received any public comments since the second public meeting and when the draft plan was posted on our website. The City of Fort Collins adopted the Soapstone Natural Area Resource Management Plan on Tuesday, September 25th. She anticipates the Red Mountain Open Space Resource Management Plan will be adopted by the end of September by Gary Buffington. A few minor changes to the management plan will be made to include the Red Canyon parcel.

A question regarding whether or not bison will be permitted to graze on Red Mountain Open Space was asked. Meegan acknowledged that in the near term we do not anticipate grazing bison on Red Mountain due to necessary management upgrades and infrastructure which are not feasible with the natural resources present on the property (ex. fencing requirements for bison would affect deer and elk).

Nancy moved to recommend the adoption of the Red Mountain Open Space Resource Management Plan by the Department Director, Jim seconded. The recommendation was unanimously accepted.

DISCUSSION:

·  Department name change to Department of Natural Resources. See enclosure.

 

K-Lynn informed the Advisory Board of the Department of Parks and Open Lands name change to Department of Natural Resources. The three program names: Parks, Open Lands and Land Stewardship will be subheadings to the department. The Land Stewardship Program will have two subheadings: Weeds and Forestry. K-Lynn noted the remainder of department supplies will be utilized and the new name will appear as supplies are replenished.

 

Bob inquired whether additional overhead will be needed (i.e. a head of the Department with three Program Managers) due to the department name change. K-Lynn noted she is unaware of need for additional staff.

 

·  Transfer of Horsetooth Mountain Park to the Open Lands Program.

K-Lynn explained how twenty-five years ago Horsetooth Mountain Park (HTMP) was purchased with a six month tax. Presently Horsetooth Mountain Park is managed by the Parks Program. Staff of the Department of Natural Resources anticipates the Open Lands Program taking over the management of HTMP by mid-2008. K-Lynn added the recreational and natural resource values at HTMP are more in-line with the management of an open space then a park.

 

The operating cost of Horsetooth Mountain Park is $200,000, with annual revenue of $90,000; lottery funds subsidize the remainder of operating costs. With the recent acquisition of Hermit Park Open Space and taking over the management of Horsetooth Mountain Park the Open Lands program will maintain the present fee structure at HTMP. Maintaining this fee will help to minimize financial impacts to the Program.

 

Meegan addressed differences in management of Horsetooth Mountain Park from the Parks Program to the Open Lands Program. She explained a few accomplishments implemented from the management plan during the past two years including: update of the trailhead, ensuring trails zoned frontcountry meet frontcountry standards, and closing/restoring social trails where appropriate. Additionally, there have been few problems with the seasonal trail closure for the rare butterfly habitat found along the Nomad Trail. Additional upgrades and management are needed to improve the values of HTMP.

 

Staff discussed how the public will interpret a fee associated with an open space. It was noted on several occasions the Open Lands Program will not increase the present entrance fee to Horsetooth Mountain Park. Several board members pointed out the public already associates an entrance fee with HTMP. Concern was expressed whether or not there will be sufficient funds for the Open Lands Program to maintain the management of Horsetooth Mountain Park. K-Lynn said yes, with the support of the Open Space Sales Tax. She continued by explaining through 2018 management costs are accounted for all open spaces. Beyond 2018 is contingent upon what the voters want when we go back to them in the coming years.

 

·  Hermit Park Update. (see handout)

Meegan shared the programming map created showing the long-term, phased plan for facility improvements and additions at Hermit Park Open Space. These improvements and additions will cost an estimated $5 - $5.5 million. The improvements and additions handout will be used during the County’s special review process of the property. Slight modifications may occur as we work with the Estes Valley Land Trust who holds the conservation easement. Meegan noted “long-term” is not defined and is variable depending on budget, priority and the significance the project plays in opening Hermit Park Open Space.

 

Meegan explained the highest priorities are those which must be completed prior to opening Hermit Park, in accordance with health, safety and other requirements per county code or meet a revenue generation goal (such as the parking lot at the group use area). She listed several of these priority areas and their associated costs: 1) Highway 36 turn lanes, $250,000, 2) main roads meeting standard G, $260,000, 3) well modifications to meet public water standards $5,000, 4) installation of bear proof dumpsters, $4,800, and 5) constructing a 75-vehicle parking lot, road access and restoration at the group-use area, $325,000.

 

The following projects have identified and all have been categorized as medium priorities. An overflow parking area (100 vehicles) will be constructed which will include a shelter and vault toilet all in the vicinity of the entrance station, $126,000. The saddle area will have a small event area (15 – 20 people) as well as a trailhead with an 18 – 20 vehicle capacity, $125,000. 3) The second trailhead will be near the Hermit’s Cabin with a capacity of 25 vehicles, including ADA accessible parking, a kiosk, vault toilet and a potential amphitheater, $150,000. The third trailhead, leading to Kruger Rock, will be constructed west of the group-use area and will have a vehicle capacity of approximately 20, include a kiosk and a vault toilet at an estimated cost of $69,620. In the short-term the group use parking area will be the trailhead parking for Kruger Rock trail. The fourth trailhead will be at the southern most point of the road, tying into the Homestead Meadows Trail (approximately 15-vehicle parking, kiosk, and vault toilet) $250,000.

 

Other medium priority projects include: 1) The conservation easement allows up to three additional cabins the same size (350 s.f.) as the current cabins to be built. These additional cabins will be constructed in the existing cabin loop, creating the option for group rentals, while maintaining the present solitude of the cabin area, $300,000. 2) The two larger cabins (1,000 s.f.), per the conservation easement, will be built adjacent to the group-use area at an estimated cost of $2,300. 3) Overtime a second pavilion will be added to the group-use area, $50,000. 4) The bandshell, shower-house and concession stand do not meet county code and will need to be removed from the group-use area, $5,000.

 

Meegan noted staff will be meeting EDAW next week to identify and assess which campsites are ready for use and which ones will need to be hardened. They will also identify where the additional 20 campsites, per the conservation easement, can be located while maintaining a high quality user experience.

 

·  Financial Future:

·  Review of Financing Options developed by staff and the OLAB Finance Committee in 2005.  (These options were reviewed with the County Commissioners in Fall, 2005.).  See enclosure.

Peter explained the role of the Open Lands Advisory Board Finance Committee was to review where the Open Lands Program was and how the Program’s funds would look thru 2018. The County Commissioners asked the Open Lands Program to assess where we think we will be in 2018 and ideally what the next step will be for the Program in 2018. Another hand-out shows some of the identified options for the Open Lands Program after 2018. The goal for extending the sales tax is to have a stable operation of the Program. A minimum of a .083 percent sales tax will be necessary to fund management of lands acquired thru 2018. Peter noted it is imperative the tax continues to be shared with the cities.

 

The preferred tax option would be greater than the present tax. This would enable the Parks Program to receive a greater share of the Open Lands tax, thereby freeing-up general funds the Parks Program currently utilizes. A .379% sales tax would enable us to manage our current properties, allow for limited acquisitions, supplement the Parks Program, and continue sharing back the revenue with area cities.

 

·  Availability of debt reserve ($1.4 million) for use today for acquisition and development purposes.

The bond the Open Lands Program was initially issued has resulted in an escrow account worth $1.4 million. If the Program purchases an insurance policy, the Finance Director has said the $1.4 million can be released. Staff has recommended half of the reserve funds go directly to start-up costs of Hermit Park. Peter explained once we receive the debt reserve funds the Open Lands Program will need to continue to pay its debt, essentially it is an advanced payment.

 

·  Next steps.

With the recent purchase of the both Hermit Park Open Space and the Gallegos property and the chance to acquire the $1.2 it is time for staff and the OLAB to revisit our acquisition and development project priorities. Next month the Board will complete an acquisition and development project prioritization exercise for the next five years (2008 – 2012).

 

 

 

·  Bylaws – Set up committee to review bylaws.

K-Lynn explained the importance for the OLAB to review their bylaws while the Parks Advisory Board creates their bylaws. A committee will be created with representatives from the two boards which will enable us to effectively communicate the needs of each board, while working together. Nancy, Ted and Sue will serve on this committee for the Open Lands Advisory Board.

 

DIRECTORS REPORT:

(see handout)

 

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION: (24-6-402(4) (a) C.R.S. Purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest.  Bob moved to go in to Executive Session at 7:49 pm, Jim seconded and the motion carried unanimously. 

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Bill Newman.  The motion was seconded by Ben and carried unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:02 pm

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