Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Bison Visitor Center, 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO

Text Box: The mission of the Larimer County Parks and Open Lands Department is to establish, protect, and manage significant regional parks and open lands, providing quality outdoor recreational opportunities and stewardship of natural resource values.  We are committed to fostering a sense of community and appreciation for the natural and agricultural heritage of Larimer County for present and future generations.

Present:

Parks Advisory Board Members:

Linda Knowlton, Chair

Chad LaChance

Ivan Andrade

Kathy Palmeri

Dave Coulson

 

Russell Fruits

 

Rob Harris

 

 

Staff

Gary Buffington

Kathay Rennels, Commissioner

Mark Caughlan

Rob Novak

Dan Rieves

Kerri Rollins

Debra Wykoff

Lori Smith

 

 

 

 

 

Guests

Vic Grizzle, Bureau of Reclamation

Dave Hermann, Northern Colorado Disc Golf Club

Kara Lamb, Bureau of Reclamation?

Rich Knowles, Northern Colorado Disc Golf Club

Drew Stoll, EDAW Inc.

Bill Wright, Northern Colorado Disc Golf Club

 

 

 

 

 

Absent: 

Frank Cada

Tom Miller

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

Rich Harter

 

The September 25, 2007, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Linda Knowlton, Chair, at 5:30 p.m.  The minutes of the August 28, 2007, meeting were approved. 

 

PUBLIC COMMENT:

Claudine Szwaja requested a copy of the new Parks Master plan.  Copies are available for review at the Visitor Center.   Citizens may also pay to have a copy printed at Kinko’s.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION: 

·  Parks & Open Lands 2006 Annual Report has been distributed.

·  The 2007 Colorado Open Space Alliance (COSA) Conference took place in Steamboat Springs on September 10-12, with many staff in attendance. 

·  The keynote speakers for the COSA Conference were Jordan Fisher Smith and Brian O’Neill. 

·  Park Managers Dan Rieves and Travis Rollins arranged for Jordan Fisher Smith to appear at COSA.  Smith, author of Nature Noir, is a retired California State Parks ranger who writes and speaks vividly about his rangering experiences in the “wilderness” of a Bureau of Reclamation designated dam site. 

·  K-Lynn Cameron and Kerri Rollins, with the COSA Steering Committee, snared Golden Gate National Recreation Area Superintendent, Brian O’Neill, as the second keynote speaker.  O’Neill and Golden Gate NRA have become known as pioneers in building successful public-private partnerships.  Today, GGNRA leverages a $19 million budget allocation almost dollar for dollar through a variety of other sources, which has transformed Golden Gate National Recreation Area into an organization that facilitates a creative network of alliances.

·  The grand opening of the new Horsetooth Mountain Park trailhead was held on Saturday, September 22, 2007, from 8:00 – Noon. 

·  On Monday, September 24, 2007, all department staff spent the day at Hermit Park.  This was the first opportunity many staff members have had to experience the County’s newest Open Space and park.

·  The 3rd Annual Northern Colorado Birding Fair was held September 29, 2007, at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space.  Attendance was just over 500; and the public response was enthusiastic.

·  The Open Lands Advisory Board (OLAB) will meet at the Loveland Library on September 27, 2007, at 5:00 p.m.

·  Parks and Open Lands events for OctoberSee attached.

 

 

PRESENTATIONS: 

·  Parks Master Plan Task Force Recognition & Celebration of the new 2007 Parks Master Plan and Resource Management Plan

Commissioner Kathay Rennels thanked the public and the Task Force for their efforts in developing the plan.  She also praised EDAW, Inc., represented by Drew Stoll, for their pivotal role in the process as the consultant on the plan; and the County’s management and funding partner at the reservoirs, the Bureau of Reclamation, represented by Vic Grizzle.  Each member of the Task Force and the Parks Advisory Board received a copy of both plans:  The 2007 Parks Master Plan and the 2007 Resource Management Plan/EA for the four reservoirs.

 

·  Northern Colorado Disc Golf Club presentation

Rich Knowles gave a PowerPoint presentation on behalf of the Northern Colorado Disc Golf Club.  Club members Dave Hermann and Bill Wright were also present and answered questions.  The Club encourages the Parks Advisory Board to consider installing a course somewhere on County park or open space land.  The group believes that user fees would be acceptable for a nice course. 

 

Other courses in the local area include:

  • The Sundance Trail Dude Ranch at Red Feather Lakes is a private facility – the only “pay for play” course in Colorado. 
  • There are two 9-hole courses in Ft. Collins (Fort Collins High and Boltz Junior High) – available to the public only outside school hours.  A problem with the school courses is the flat, unchallenging terrain.
  • The YMCA of the Rockies has a nice course in Estes Park.
  • Other top area courses are located in Ft. Morgan, Denver, Colorado Springs, and at mountain resorts. 
  • North of I-70, there are few. 

 

Possible sites in Larimer County might include the Wellington Gravel Pit or the old sport cycle park location at the north end of Horsetooth Reservoir.

The Club has made the same presentation to the City of Ft. Collins.  The City is looking for possible sites, but existing open space regulations, etc., limit the options.  Fort Collins has only one 18-hole disc golf course (at Edora Park,) compared to 2 courses in Ft. Morgan.  At Edora, there often several groups waiting to tee off.  Edora is extremely overcrowded and insufficient to accommodate the number of players in the area.  A course at CSU was closed due to overcrowding.

 

Since 1975, the sport has exploded – there are currently over 2000 courses across the U.S.  The sport appeals to family groups from children to grandparents.  People like the quality time with family combined with exercise.  The game, which uses modified Frisbees, is substantially less expensive to develop and maintain than other sport facilities, and uses no water.  Disc Golf courses use the natural landscape with minimal alterations.  Courses are inexpensive and easy to install and to maintain.

 

The Club collected user statistics at the Edora Park course in Fort Collins.  On one weekend in June, 2007, a total of 669 people used the course.  There were 114 users from 24 other Colorado cities.  There were 88 users from 30 other states.  The age range was from 5 to 72; av. Age 26.  During two comparison periods, there was an average of 397 people per day with an average of 32 users per hour.  Estimated total use for June, July, and August ranged from 11,000 – 36,500.  For the entire year, estimated total use was somewhere between 32,700 and 145,000. 

 

A disc golf course requires 1 acre per hole, on average, depending on terrain, with 250 – 700 or 800 feet per hole (250 yards.) 

 

Board comments:

  • What are the parameters of a good course – size, location, terrain features?
  • What kind of wear occurs to the terrain?  (Mulching around the tees and holes can minimize impact.)
  • This sport appeals strongly to college-age people. 
  • How many are located in fee-based areas (even if there is no fee to play?)  (The mountain resorts would be in that category.)

 

·  Education Program Strategic Plan:

Kerri Rollins, Funding and Outreach Specialist for the department, described the strategic planning process for the Education Program, to identify and prioritize department wants and needs proactively.  The Children in Nature Network will make a 45 minute presentation at a future PAB meeting.  This movement is based on the book by Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

 

Rob Novak, Interim Education Coordinator, explained that the Education Task Force is open to all staff and both boards.  The first meeting was in July.  The Core Team includes the senior managers, Kerri and Rob.  The first Core Team meeting was in September; it will continue to meet monthly for the next few months.  A draft plan will then be presented to the PAB and the Open Lands Advisory Board.

 

Rob described the programs which currently comprise the Education Program: 

  • public tours of open space areas,
  • summer campground programs,
  • guided hikes by trained volunteer naturalists,  and
  • guided hikes for elementary school classes. 

 

Drew Stoll of EDAW Inc. suggested having the National Association of Interpreters review the plan. 

 

Board comment:

  • Linda Knowlton noted that the US Forest Service has a program called “Kids in the Woods.”  She asked about interagency coordination. 

 

·  2008 Parks and Open Lands Department budget overview

Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant for the department presented an overview of the department 2008 budget for revenues and expenditures by type of expense and program.  (See pie charts, attached.) 

 

At future meetings, Lori and Deb Wykoff, Administrative Services Manager, will present more detailed budget information about specific segments of the budget:

October 2007 – Park Operations

November 2007 - Park Capital Improvement Projects

January 2008– Open Lands Acquisition & Development

February 2008 – Open Lands Long Term Management

March 2008 – Cost Accounting

 

Board comments:

  • Personnel costs increase an average of how much per year?
  • Total budget increases how much per year on average?
  • Linda Knowlton, Chair, asked the Board to think about what they want to see each month.  She noted that the Board is interested in knowing how things are going throughout the year.
  • Gary Buffington reported that the OLAB financial committee met today to discuss future options when the current tax expires in 2018.

 

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS:

Park District updates – Park District Managers, Mark Caughlan and Dan Rieves

·  Blue Mountain District – Dan Rieves

  • Carter Lake outlet project:  Water level is down to construction level.  Must be above “dead pool” to make deliveries. 
  • Camping:  Still busy; Flatiron filled on nice weekends.
  • At this time of year, visitation transitions from the park properties to the open space properties
  • Carter Lake Marina project design and construction:  Two firms are finalists to be interviewed on Friday.
  • Pinewood orange buoy lines:  The Bureau of Reclamation told residents last week that the color can’t be replaced due to cost factors.  Residents asked again that no cabins go in there.
  • Hermit Park:  Cabins are almost fully rented out for the “soft opening” through November 15, 2007.
  • New staff:  Chris Fleming has been promoted to the position of Hermit Park Manager, and two new rangers have been hired for the Blue Mountain District (Jim Hawkins and Cindy Claggett.)
  • Winterizing:  Water systems are being turned off.  Carter Lake Marina closed early to begin preparing for the move.
  • Centennial Bass:  Fishing structure will be added to the lake while water levels are low.

 


·  Horsetooth District – Mark Caughlan

  • Horsetooth revenue:  Highest ever – over $825,000 to date this year.  Mark thought visitation would be down due to fuel prices – it costs about $100 per day to put a boat on the water.  However, campground reservations are full every weekend, regardless of weather or water level.  Weekday use is extending longer.  People stay closer to home and stay longer and do more activities.  E.g., shower houses are a top priority for people to stay longer.  People come here to powerboat and fish – if there’s no water, there’s no visitation.
  • Water levels:  5386 ft. now; Horsetooth Marina is out at 5385. 
  • Horsetooth Mountain Park Trailhead:  Completed and fabulous!  Grand Opening was last weekend.  The park receives approximately 100,000 visitors per year.  This beautiful trailhead is appropriate for the size of the park and the volume of visitation.
  • GOCO grant has been submitted requesting $700,000 to implement Parks Master Plan projects in both districts.
  • Park entrance signs:  Four new “signature” signs, designed by EDAW Inc., are being installed at major park entrance location at Spring Canyon dam, South Bay and Inlet Bay, and at the Mountain Park. 
  • Maintenance Work List developed for jobs to be done over the winter.
  • Recent or pending events include:

·  Boy Scouts Camporee

·  Horsetooth Hang climb at Rotary Park

·  Rowing Club all day event on October 6.

·  CSU homecoming parade is on October 6.

  • Lion’s Park, located south of LaPorte, has suffered vandalism damage which totaled $6,000. 
  • Recently, a park ranger conducting normal patrol on the east side of Horsetooth Reservoir was able to avert a suicide attempt at Sunrise Day Use Area.  Mark included this in his report to give the Board a glimpse of the unexpected stresses encountered by park rangers in the course of their duties.

 

·  Horsetooth Sail & Saddle Club license renewal

Mark Caughlan introduced Jack Hall and Bud McMahan, who were present representing the Sail & Saddle Club.  They explained the history of the Sail & Saddle Club.

 

Horsetooth Recreation Corporation (HRC) was incorporated in 1952 by Elton Collins and Tuck Howell.  The Sail & Saddle Club is a nonprofit corporation separate from the HRC, from which the Club leases their access to the property.  The Club acts as attorney-in-fact for HRC, and pays the taxes and insurance directly, on behalf of HRC.  The property is 17 acres, with 109 shares, held by about 20 families. 

 

Bud noted the statement in the August Board minutes about the difference in license fees between their club and the Carter Lake Sail Club.  He highlighted differences between the two organizations:

·  Sail and Saddle paid over $10,000 last year for their access to the site through private property. 

·  Costs this year will be about $17,000 total. 

·  Sail & Saddle has no public facilities, and receives no maintenance assistance from the department. 

·  In recent years, they have only gotten a couple months use each year due to low water. 

·  They rescue many boaters who break down in the middle of the reservoir where they are located. 

·  The public has access to the shore, but they do lock their facility to prevent vandalism. 

·  The Club is willing to make the facility available to the County for public use, but due to liability insurance issues and substandard construction, it cannot accommodate large groups.

 

 

Gary explained that the Club has submitted an alternative proposed contract.  The County draft has been reviewed by the County Attorney, who is now reviewed the alternate proposal. 

 

·  Land purchase offer at Horsetooth Reservoir near Inlet Bay

Horsetooth Marine Resort, across the street from Inlet Bay campground, is on the market for $1.4 million. Gary Buffington noted that the department lacks the funds to even consider acquiring it at this time.

 

Board comment:

·  Chad LaChance stated that an interested party is considering multi-family dwellings on the site.

 

·  Hermit Park permit fees

Dan Rieves, Blue Mountain District Manager, explained that currently we are considering $20 per night for camping and $80 for cabins at Hermit Park.  Dan said that a proposal for these fees will be brought to the Board at a future meeting.  However, the primary revenue source will be special events such as weddings, family reunions, and corporate events.  Dan described the department’s special event policy, procedure, application form, and approval process.  The Fee Worksheet allows for factoring the impacts of the event as well as waiver or reduction of fees as calculated.

 

The two-night minimum applies on weekends (3-night minimum on holiday weekends).  This avoids the necessity of cleaning and processing nightly on the weekend between visitors.

 

Board comment:

·  Linda Knowlton, Chair, asked whether a preference for County residents will be considered.  She thinks it would generate goodwill among residents, who do not realize that we are not funded by General Fund.  This would be beneficial to building a constituency for the next sales tax. 

 

·  Bylaws Subcommittee report

Gary reported that the OLAB and PAB officers need to meet to discuss how an Executive Committee would be structured.  That will occur sometime in the next month.

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

·  Parks Master Plan Implementation – Progress report

Projects currently pending include:

·  Carter Lake Marina building contract (see report, above.)

·  Blue Sky trailhead at the former “Field of Dreams” site at Horsetooth.

 

DISCUSSION ITEMS: None

ACTION ITEMS: None

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

·  2006 Annual Report
Gary briefly highlighted contents of the report; copies were presented to the Board members.


·  Recommended reading

  • Last Child in the Woods – Gary has a copy if anyone wants to borrow it.  Russell Fruits also recommends this book – the Boy Scouts brought the author to Ft.Collins.
  • Now Discover Your Strengths – Department staff have been using the Strengthsfinder profiles to evaluate individual strengths, and how these can be better used for the benefit of the whole team.  Stating that he’s a ‘maximizer’, Gary explained that wants the department to go from Good to Great to Grand!
  • Colorado Open Space Alliance (COSA) Annual Conference (see report, above.)

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Debra Wykoff

 

 

Approved: ____________________________                     ______________________

                 Chair, Parks Advisory Board                                       (Date)

 

Next regular meeting: October 23, 2007, at the Bison Visitor Center, 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO      

 

 

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