Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

LARIMER COUNTY OPEN LANDS ADVISORY BOARD MEETING

MINUTES

Thursday, January 26, 2006     5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.    Loveland Library Multi-purpose 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

Jean Carpenter

Peter Kast

Sue Sparling

Bob Streeter

Ted Swanson

Jim White

Ben Manvel

Mark DeGregorio

 

Staff:

Jerry White

Ernst Strenge

Meegan Flenniken

Jim Krick

K-Lynn Cameron

Gary Buffington

Karen Wagner

 

 

Absent: 

Bill Newman

Lori Jeffrey-Clark

 

·  Chair, Peter Kast called the meeting to order at 5:07 p.m.

 

·  Duane Pond motioned to approve the minutes of November 17, 2005 as amended; seconded by Jim White.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT:

No public comment

 

INFORMATION ITEMS:

·  The OLAB Holiday Party at Peter and Penny Kasts’ house on December 15th was great fun!  Thanks to Peter, Penny, Greg and Meegan for making it such a good time.

·  Small Grants Committee met with Ernst and K-Lynn on January 25 and reviewed the 2006 applications and the Committee will bring their recommendation to the February Board meeting.

·  The “Nature as Your Neighbor” Workshop will be presented by Mary Bonnell on Saturday, January 28 from 9:00 am –Noon at the Loveland Library. 

·  Larimer County and Fort Collins Naturalists’ programs are jointly sponsoring a NAI-certified naturalist training. There are 27 people throughout the city and county organizations are signed up. 

·  The County Commissioners would like to investigate over the next 6 months, the potential to move management of Horsetooth Mountain Park into the Open Lands Program.  The Board asked when they would have opportunity to give input, Gary Buffington said there will be a public process over the next 6 months and this issue will be brought to the OLAB during that timeframe.  Peter Kast noted that he will convene the OLAB Finance Subcommittee to discuss the future potential and financial feasibility of transferring HTMP to the Open Lands Program.

·  We let expire our first right of refusal on the 550 acres owned by Avis adjacent to Eagle’s Nest Open Space, and he completed a sale to the Wiler family in early January.

·  The new and improved website it up and running, thanks Greg!  Check it out at www.larimer.org/parks

·  The annual report will be expanded to include the entire Parks and Open Lands Department with four new pages added to it.  Please email K-Lynn Cameron “why you wanted to volunteer to be on the OLAB” and “why you think parks and open spaces are important” for inclusion in the 2005 Annual Report.

·  Harry Sauer is currently farming all of the properties in the Fort Collins/Loveland corridor and is going to phase out of farming so that after this fall he will not be farming McKee or Long View open spaces.  Per the management plan, the next phase for Long View Farm Open Space once it is no longer feasible to farm is begin the process of restoring it to native prairie.  K-Lynn Cameron noted we are looking into another agricultural lessee as a first option.  Duane Pond noted that he’d rather see it continue to be farmed over restoration and management.  Gary Buffington suggested that Mike Carroll had mentioned to him that the Weed Program could farm the property for grass hay for profit.

·  The Open Space Sales Tax exemption bill (formerly SB174) which would have allowed counties to take their sales taxes above the 1% cap for conservation purposes, is back.  It has been reintroduced in the senate as SB52.  New additions include a sunset clause that this can’t go over 20 years and a cap on management dollars at 10%.  A cap on management dollars is concerning to open space groups because it will limit the number of properties that can have public access since these properties cost the most to manage.  Peter Kast will be writing a letter expressing this concern on behalf of the OLAB.

·  Silent auction is April 7th – the beneficiary is to go towards the County’s portion of construction the Poudre River Trail from Windsor to Timnath.  An information sheet was handed out about the project to use for soliciting silent auction items.  Sue Sparling and Bob Streeter may be available to help that night as greeters.  OLAB members noted they liked getting the sheet of the items that were at the 2005 auction and what they sold for.

 

PRESENTATION:

·  2005 Open Lands Advisory Board Year in Review - Meegan

 

DISCUSSION:

·  Conservation Easement Case Study: Tawnya Ernst and Katherine King

“Community and Ecological Benefits Produced by Private Land Conservation in Larimer County”.  This study included discussions with agencies and organizations, document analysis of CE’s, a mail-back survey (60% return rate) of landowners involved in land conservation, interviews, and GIS analysis.  For Larimer County Open Lands, they looked at 35 CE’s totaling 14,492 acres (this includes partnership CE’s with other agencies), and in total for all agencies looked at 225 CE’s recorded as of Dec 2004. 

            Summary:

·  In Larimer County, broad range of income levels of landowners involved in conservation (not just the wealthy).

·  What motivated LC grantors to conserve?  Top responses were to protect open space, benefit future generations, protect wildlife habitat, preserve unique ecosystems, & keep land in the family. 

·  100% of landowners with CE’s held by Larimer County said they were the party responsible for land management and the highest management priorities they cited for their lands included maintaining green space, maintaining a rural residence, improving land health, providing recreation, improving habitat, and agricultural production. 

·  100% of CE’s held by Larimer County have land management plans in place.  When asked how confident they felt about working with LCPOL there was a 90% response from landowners for a high level of confidence and for a positive experience. 

 

Karen Wagner asked that a copy of the final document be sent to the County Planning Department as a reference as well in regards to Conservation Developments/RLUC’s etc.

           

·  Pleasant Valley Trail/Lions Park Management Plan

Ernst described the overall management goal - to provide a safe, scenic trail route and park, wildlife watching, a connection to the Poudre River Trail and potential future trail connection in the context of the OL Master Plan Trails.  In particular, there will be a balance between recreation and protection of the natural resources in this corridor. There is potential habitat for PMJM and hence this area is also managed as a mitigation site as a requirement from the trail and bridge construction.  There are two rare butterflies and a number of historic sites in this area.  Part of a larger trail system to connect to Greeley, this asphalt-paved trail is a small but critical segment.  Specific maintenance tasks include trail maintenance, snow removal, restroom cleaning, weed control, tree trimming for hazard trees, and fence maintenance.  The trail will be patrolled and managed by the Horsetooth District of the Department.  Any activities not described or allowed per the management plan will be reviewed by the Department Resource Stewardship/Leadership Team to determine if it is appropriate in light of impacts to natural resources or displacement of visitors.

Bob Streeter asked if we’d considered finding volunteer adopt-a-trail groups to assist with maintenance needs.  The Department does have an adopt-a-trail program and this trail could be included in this program. 

 

·  Horsetooth Mountain Park Management Plan

Drew Stoll with EDAW and Mark Caughlan came to present the draft management plan that is currently on the county website for public review through mid-February with adoption in late February.  There have been two public meeting for the management plan where the existing conditions and draft management recommendations were presented. 

Significant recommended changes to the Park include: renovating Horsetooth Mountain Trailhead; establishing backcountry campsites (starting with 1 as a trial and up to 3 in the future); formalizing an existing social trail connecting Spring Creek Trail to Stout Trail; designating Horsetooth Falls and Horsetooth Rock trails as hiking-only; closing Nomad Trail; formalizing Shoreline Trail (currently a social trail); applying management zoning to denote level of maintenance and facilities that are appropriate in various locations within the Park; and, establishing three interpretive overlooks. 

Initially, the plan also noted closing Loggers and Carey Springs trails and after high response from user groups to keep these trails open and due to more sensitive resources in other areas of the Park, these trails are recommended to now be left open.  However, Nomad Trail, which runs through the east valley and parallel to Shoreline Trail (a well used social trail along the Park boundary), is still recommended for either permanent or seasonal closure as it is a redundant trail and bisects the east valley where relictual grassland species and rare butterflies are found.

            These recommendations, highlighted in the latest version of the Plan online, were presented to various user group representatives (mountain bikers, horseback riders and hikers) at a January meeting.  There was mixed reaction from this group to closing the Nomad Trail – one suggestion included closing the trail seasonally coinciding with butterfly active periods.   

            Bob Streeter asked what the distance from the trail is that is a zone of influence and hence the range of the butterflies to determine what habitat size is important for their survival.

            Mark DeGregorio suggested that there should be “no parking signs” along CR 38E to the west of the trailhead entrance.

            Bob Streeter asked if the new trailhead design would increase management costs.  Mark Caughlan noted that there would be increased management costs due to trail maintenance and bringing the trails up to standard and backcountry campsites, but with a fee collection station and charging a premium for backcountry camping could off-set these costs.  Bob asked if the plan then if transferred to Open Lands Program is to keep charging a user fee, and it was noted that this is still not yet determined.

 

DIRECTORS REPORT:

·  Gary Buffington reported that they had 33 applicants, interviewed 20 and picked 13 for the Advisory Board for the Parks Master Plan process.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:

·  Duane Pond moved to go into Executive Session.  The motion was seconded by Jim White.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Duane Pond.  The motion was seconded by Bob Streeter and carried unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

 

 

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