Loveland Bike Trail
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, November 27, 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

Rob Harris

Ivan Andrade

Rich Harter

Frank Cada

Tom Miller

Dave Coulson

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

Russell Fruits

 

 

Staff

Gary Buffington

 

Mark Caughlan

Rob Novak

Dan Rieves

Marcella Wells

Debra Wykoff

 

 

 

 

Absent: 

Chad LaChance

Kathy Palmeri

 

 

 

 

The November 27, 2007, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Linda Knowlton, Chair, at 5:30 p.m.  The minutes of the meeting on October 23, 2007, were approved. 

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda

§  Walt Graul, member of the Loveland Fishing Club:  The pressure on existing fishing locations is already intense.  This is an important issue to many in the community.  Walt and Tom Miller met with Gary two years ago and identified Big Thompson parcels that were appropriate for fishing access.  Eleven were identified as very valuable.  They then sent a letter to the Commissioners and to Gary and requested that they be kept in the loop on plans to sell the parcels.  They are still extremely interested in being involved in this process.  Walt and others are on the mailing list for any information about Big Thompson properties, but have never received any email notifications.  They would like to be notified of meetings when it is on the agenda.

 

  • Austin Condon, resident of Estes Park, and a member of Alpine Anglers, who serves on the board of directors of Trout Unlimited:  Finding places on the Big Thompson River to access the river for fishing is difficult.  He just learned about the process underway to dispose of some Big Thompson parcels in the past month.  If the County chooses to retain the parcels for fishing access, there is the opportunity for local fishing clubs to “adopt a park.”  He proposes that if a property is conveyed, Larimer County retain an easement for public access to the river.  He understands that some parcels will be sold, but urges the Department to retain all eleven sites identified by the Loveland Fishing Club.  They stand ready to assist if needed. 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION: 

  • The Open Lands Advisory Board (OLAB) will meet at on November 29, 2007, at 5:00 p.m.
  • The Friends of Larimer County Parks and Open Lands had fundraising booths at the Whole Foods “CommUnity” day in Fort Collins and Boulder for Hermit Park Open Space on October 10th. Whole Foods donated a percent of proceeds from the day to Hermit Park. Over $10,000 was donated.  Tom Miller will provide to the Board the prioritized “wish list” for use of the funds.
  • The Friends of Larimer County hosted 2 very successful volunteer days at Hermit Park Open Space on October 20th and 21st..  Volunteers worked on trails, removed a horse corral in a riparian area and created defensible space around the caretaker’s house. 
  • On Saturday, October 20th,  at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, the Volunteer Appreciation event celebrated the 100’s of people, including the Open Lands and Parks Advisory Boards, that have volunteered over 25,000 hours this year to help us serve our visitors and protect our parks and open lands A great time was had by all!
  • On November 1st, over 65 appraisers, CPAs, attorneys, realtors, and landowner attended our very successful continuing education program:  “Conservation Easements, Appraisals and Tax Credits for Open Space and Agricultural Lands” at the Lincoln Center. 
  • GOCO Legacy grant proposal for Horsetooth Reservoir Park Improvements:  Larimer County’s proposal is ranked #1 and recommended for full funding!  Great news for Horsetooth Reservoir and Hermit Park!  This grant will provide needed funding for important improvements at Horsetooth Reservoir and will free up Lottery funding that can match Open Lands funding for Hermit Park. 

 

 

BOARD COMMENT: Items not on the agenda

  • Linda Knowlton:  She is attending the task force meeting of the Education Strategic Plan on Thursday.  Other members are also welcome to attend. 

ACTION ITEMS:

§  Sail & Saddle Club License – Recommendation to Director and Board of Commissioners

Bud McMahon, President, Sail & Saddle Club, responded to comments from the October Board minutes.  It is not true that the facility is unsafe.  A brand new deck and stairs were installed one year ago.  There are also plans to install safety railings.  The structure is concrete block with substantial roof timbers.  Engineers in the club have evaluated the condition of the concrete as safe.  Wiring has been redone within the past 3 years.  Overall, the structure is in very good condition for use by a group the size of the Sail & Saddle Club – but not for access by larger numbers of the public if it were to become a public facility.  All Club members do purchase County park permits for all boats. 

 

Billy Burt, a member of the Sail & Saddle Club, is responsible for maintenance of the Sail & Saddle facility:  He noted that the Club partners with the County in numerous ways:  The department has access for use by volunteers, as do other community groups when requested.

 

Rich Harter made, and Dave Coulson seconded, a motion to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners that they approve the license.  The motion was approved.

PRESENTATIONS: 

The Importance of Nature for Children – Marcella Wells, former CSU professor and interpretative consultant
Rob Novak, Interim Education Coordinator, introduced Marcella Wells, of Wells Resources, Inc., who taught environmental education at CSU for 10 years.  She is now involved with the Children in Nature Network, a loose collaboration of programs and agencies interested in this issue, which is presenting this program to groups throughout the community.  Their vision is to develop and promote meaningful relationships between children and nature. 

Marcella is a professional interpretive consultant who works all over the country and the western hemisphere.   Her purpose in this presentation is to explain the concept of “Last Child in the Woods”.  Her presentation focused on the connection with nature which children develop in youth.  What happens if future generations of decision-makers don’t have those formative outdoor experiences?  Author Richard Louv coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” and wrote the book, Last Child in the Woods.  The term describes the growing “disconnect” between children and nature.  He is not a scientist; he is a publicist, who noticed the trend.  His website is www.cnaturenet.org .  Members of the Board and the public may contact Marcella Wells at marcellawells@comcast.net.

Board comments:

§  How can the Board support this effort?  (Marcella said the Board can help spread the awareness; individuals may contribute funding.) 

§  Should this be a marketing focus for Larimer County, i.e., “Get Back to Nature – We’ve got the special places for you.”  (Marcella recommends use of a tagline; they would love the marketing assistance.)

§  Where is the book available?  (Marcella:  Online, Barnes & Noble, Amazon)

§  Dr. Bob Kreycik:  Serves as a volunteer for the department, and also for the City of Loveland.  In the log house up the Poudre Canyon, they have specimens of many animals which kids can touch.  Over 1000 kids went there last school year.  (Marcella recommends getting a story about it into the newspaper.)

§  Ivan Andrade believes in the emerald necklace philosophy, and hopes that participating on this Board will provide a forum to promote more “paths” from the city to nature.  (Marcella stated that such links are a critical charge of this Board.)

§  If future generations don’t have a connection to nature, they won’t support parks and open lands and we will lose our natural constituency.  What is the extent of nature deficit disorder here in this area?  (Marcella said that answer is unknown, which is why they are hoping to develop a diagnostic tool.  Doctors are beginning to become aware and to prescribe unrestricted outdoor play instead of Ritalin.)

§  Look at all the moms waiting in the car for the school bus, in an effort to protect kids from all risk.  Inner city kids will not walk on grass – they stay on the asphalt.  We perceive our immediate environment as much more dangerous to children, whether it really is or not.

§  What’s the County doing now?  How can we help parents get their preschool kids out in nature?

§  During the recreation season, our volunteer naturalists are called on heavily to provide interpretive hikes at our open space areas.

§  Consider designating an area in a park as “Just for Kids.”

§  When we were young, we discovered the outdoors by accident, just by going there and wandering.  Our parks and open spaces are the new horizon for city folks who go out wandering.  We need to be developing our constituency for 15 years hence.  We’re already doing a lot of this.


 

§  Tom Miller, who states that he is so old he remembers vacant lots where kids like him used to play, suggests that the County should help preserve vacant lots that kids can bike to from their homes.

 

Staff response:

§  Dan Rieves, Blue Mountain District Manager, cautions that in developing the model to test for the disorder, what we call “recreation” is often not the real thing.  Among the RV crowd, kids are sitting in the RV at the campground playing video games.  The definition of camping has changed.  At Hermit Park, our goal is to offer a true camping experience. 

§  Rob Novak, Interim Education Coordinator, explained that we have volunteer naturalists who give guided hikes; we work with Boy Scouts on guided hikes; we provide campground programs, etc., for children and adults. 

§  Mark Caughlan, Horsetooth District Manager, noted that we sponsor and assist with a kids’ fishing tournament, Colorado Youth Outdoors, Catch a Special Thrill, and other efforts geared toward kids.

§  Gary Buffington stated that the objective of the Education Strategic Plan is to identify the right niche for our programs to fill.

§  Dan Rieves explained that Colorado Youth Outdoors focuses on the high school years.  Kids must have a parent or guardian participate with them.  They provide extremely high quality outdoor experiences which would be too expensive for average people to have on their own.

§  Mark Caughlan grew up where there was an “adventure park” – an open lot with a pile of wood that kids could use to build forts, etc.

 

§  Funding Sources Overview:  Uses & Limitations – Deb Wykoff, Administrative Services Manager, Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant, and Gary Buffington, Director – 1 hour
Deferred until January due to long agenda.

 

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS:

§  Park District updates – Park District Managers, Mark Caughlan and Dan Rieves – 20 minutes

Horsetooth:

§  Northern Integrated Supply Project
Mark Caughlan reported that Glade Reservoir is the proposed dam site for the Northern Integrated Supply Project.  The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (NCWCD) has invited staff to talk about the Glade Reservoir proposed project.  The District will do a presentation at a future meeting.

Board comment:

§  This project will be highly, highly controversial.  Our concern about being in on it early is that we will be in the line of fire when the bullets start flying.  If we are associated with it in any way, we will be dragged into the negative publicity.

§  Board members from Fort Collins have been following this issue for years.  People in Ft. Collins are mainly concerned about the impact on the Poudre River through Ft. Collins.  Neither the County nor the City will have any say whatever in whether the project goes through.  Although these water rights are very junior, when they do have access to the water, it may significantly affect the river flow through the city.

§  This could become a serious roadblock to public support of a future open space sales tax.

§  The County should remain totally neutral on the merits of the project.  If the public perceives that Larimer County is pushing for the project so we can have the recreation area to manage, it will be very negative.

§  Do not develop a plan in advance, or do anything which will make it appear that the County is promoting this project.

§  If there is minimal impact we can have on the process, why get involved at this point?  If NCWCD is going to trumpet the cause of recreation, it’s going to place Larimer County right in the middle of the public controversy which could be extremely detrimental to the public image of the department.

§  If the County is a named management partner, the County will have to take a stand on the project; we can’t be wishy-washy.  We won’t be able to remain in the background.

§  Have we looked at whether the topography is conducive to recreation? (Mark:  Yes – there is a flat area of about 180 acres where the campground would be located.)

§  The environmental opponents of this plan are preparing for battle and raising money.  The opposition is well organized.

§  This Board is supposed to hear public input and make a recommendation to the Commissioners based on what is best for our constituents.  The “sales pitch” about why or whether it is preferable for Larimer County to manage the recreation comes later.

§  Board members are concerned about NCWCD using the County for their own ends to sell the project. 

§  There is one wild and scenic river in all of Colorado:  The Poudre River.  This project proposes to put a dam on that river.  From an emotional standpoint, the public may not know how this project will impact the river, but the ‘blowback’ will be national in scope.

 

Staff response:

§  NCWCD sees that the recreational opportunities can help sway or pacify the swing vote; so they think it is stronger to say that Larimer County will be their managing partner for recreation. 

§  NCWCD is not required to have any public process.  The Army Corp of Engineers will conduct the public hearing, which will be very cut and dried, and then they will move on with the project.

§  Director Gary Buffington stated that he hears and understands that the Board is counseling the County to proceed with caution, very slowly.  He noted that he has also heard that Senators Salazar and Allard are on board with the project.

§  GOCO grant to fund Parks Master Plan Priority 1 projects at Horsetooth
A GOCO award in the amount of $695,000 is imminent and will enable the department to complete all Priority 1 projects from the Master Plan within 5 years.  Mark reviewed various projects which could be done as a result.  Awards will be made the first week of December.

§  Horsetooth Mountain Park Forest Management
$170,000 in forestry management funds have been secured for 2008.  Funding will be used to address beetle kill, fire breaks, mistletoe, etc.  Timber thinning may be a source for wood chips as a by-product, which would help us get other grants.

 

Board comment:

§  What’s our exposure to pine beetle?  (Per Gary, it has reached Cameron Pass; risk is high.)

§  What’s the probability of effective prophylactic measures?  (Low)

§  There is a request for a future agenda item to discuss safety pruning of large trees like the cottonwood trees at Glade Park to avoid future loss and or liability from “widow makers” if they fall.  (Per Dan, Dave Lentz, County Forester, works on this.)

§  How much work is there to be done?  (easily 10 years)

§  Staffing:  Two new rangers:  Dean Martenson and Joe Koch.

 

Blue Mountain District: 

§  There was a suicide at South Shore two weeks ago.  This was the first fatality in almost a year (following seven deaths the previous year.) 

§  Forest Management at Carter Lake
Today was the last day of a forest health project on the west side of Carter, which demonstrates a textbook beautiful result.  The canopy has been opened up.  Slash piles will be burned during the next snowfall.  We have been awarded more funds in the next grant cycle.  Meegan Flenniken and Tony Simons with Emergency Services are very effective in getting the funding.

§  Event Management
Gary, Mark, Dan and parks staff met with staff of The Ranch, (which is also in the Public Works Division, as are we) to discuss event management.  The meeting was very productive.  Chris Fleming, Hermit Park Manager, has met with their event planner to learn how to handle the planning of large events.

§  Marketing Committee
The department marketing committee met with Rich Harter, and was encouraged to find out we are doing some things right.  The primary components of the marketing effort are a) to keep the department in the public eye; b) to adapt to effective marketing techniques; and c) to focus on low visitation windows such as shoulder season recreation.

§  Permit System Redesign Project
A core team is looking at options available through our current campground reservation company, Reserve World, to revolutionize our permit structure by 2009.

§  Hermit Park
The final draft of designs for recreation facilities was ready today, and will be reviewed by the entity which holds the conservation easement.  We are currently focusing on what will be done for the “opening” in 2008 – only certain components will be ready by that time.  For example, the turn lanes from the highway won’t be completed by then, so there may be restrictions on the volume of public access at the time of opening.  Do we open everything and then close areas as we are ready to work on them, or only open areas that are ready to go?  The progress of the permitting process for many elements will determine how that looks.

§  Carter Lake Marina
The plan is to break ground by December 17.  The scope of the building has evolved, based on septic, sewer, and other issues.  For example, there will be a food service operation, instead of a restaurant.  The existing marina will be demolished by the first week of January, before construction of the new building begins.  The maintenance facility and caretaker’s apartment will be in a separate building onsite.  The new entry road will require removal of 100 trees.  Tree cutting starts tomorrow.  Trees are being made available to neighbors for firewood; stumps will go into the reservoir for fish habitat.

 

 

 

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

§  Parks Master Plan Implementation – Progress report.  See above, under Park District reports.


DISCUSSION ITEMS:

§  Parks Advisory Board Holiday Party
The Open Lands Advisory Board traditionally has a holiday party at the home of a Board member.  The Department pays for the catering (not the alcohol). 
Agreed:  Reserve the County suite for an Eagles game in January or February.  The department will pay for tickets and food.

§  2008 Meeting Schedule

§  Open Lands staff members have requested that the Board consider moving the PAB meetings to the first half of the month to avoid meeting in the same week and/or within a few days of the Open Lands Advisory Board. 
Agreed:  PAB meetings will be moved to the second Tuesday of every month.  There will be no meeting in December.  Deb will reschedule meeting rooms and send out a list of meeting dates for 2008.

 

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

§  Monthly update to the Board

§  Big Thompson Property sales
Director Gary Buffington presented a brief history of the Big Thompson properties.  The 153 parcels acquired by Larimer County in the aftermath of the 1976 Big Thompson Flood total 83 acres.  Four of the larger parcels were made into public parks, which were closed in 2000 due to financial issues.  Two of the areas were managed by Estes Valley Recreation & Park District for several years.  The two closed areas were re-opened in 2004; and in 2006, all four parks were returned to County management.  The current operations budget is $26,000, funded by General Fund. 

Approximately 60 parcels not appropriate for public use or river access will be offered for sale to the public over time, under a plan approved by the Board of Commissioners.  To date, 3 parcels have been sold to adjoining landowners.  These are located in a subdivision, inaccessible to the public. One is a parcel which was the subject of an encroachment dispute between adjoining landowners.  The prices averaged about $6500 per parcel.

None of the sold parcels are among the 11 that the Loveland Fishing Club identified as appropriate for fishing access and fishable water.  Those 11 include the four park areas already open to the public, plus seven additional parcels.  Fees will not be charged at any of the public access areas.  However, maintenance will cost the county; there must be a revenue source to fund this.  Currently operation of these parks is covered by General Fund.

Many of these parcels are so small that the cost of having them surveyed cannot be justified.  In Colorado, public access is limited to the river area adjacent to the public shore – the public cannot fish up or downstream from that site.



Board comment:

§  Are we sacrificing potential fishing sites by selling off any of these 60 parcels?  All sites appropriate for public access should be identified before any parcels are sold.

§  If there is no public access to the parcel without trespassing on private property, the parcel is not appropriate for fishing access.

§  Can we give the public 60 days to comment on the parcels proposed for sale, to eliminate public concerns about it?  Put the burden on the public to come and comment.

§  The Loveland Fishing Club recommendations should be validated by staff inspection as appropriate for fishing access.

§  Would the fishing community be satisfied if there is assurance that those 11 parcels will be preserved for public fishing access?

§  Could parcels be sold subject to conservation easements?

§  Conservation Easements will only cause legal and management nightmares in the future.  Anything that is suitable for fishing access will not be released by the County anyway.

§  Tom Miller asked for this topic to be scheduled for discussion to defuse public reaction when they hear that parcels have been sold.  The public needs to be aware of the process which has occurred to identify and save parcels appropriate for public access.

 

Public comment: 

§  Dallas Maurer, president of the Alpine Anglers Trout Unlimited Chapter in Estes Park:  As a resident of the Big Thompson Canyon, he is concerned that adjoining property owners are not being consulted.  He is also concerned that the fishermen who spoke earlier at this meeting, and volunteered to take care of the areas, have never participated in any of the river cleanups the community has sponsored.  The residents have no objection to fishermen accessing the river anywhere – but they do object to increasing traffic and vehicle parking.  They object to general public access by people who trash the area, leaving diapers and cigarette butts strewn about, etc.  Most fishermen are really good about being respectful and unobtrusive.

Staff response:

§  Dan Rieves:  Fishing access is available all along the river.  The department is already talking to the adjoining owners in the area of those parcels which are being considered for disposal.  He has not seen the eleven parcels identified by the Loveland Fishing Club.  He would like to see them, as well as the rest of the parcels, before it is determined that only those 11 parcels are appropriate for public fishing access. 

Chair Linda Knowlton proposed that a committee of fishermen on the Board meet with Gary and Dan to review the parcels identified for public fishing access.

 

A motion was made by Dave Coulson as follows:

a) To move forward with the process approved by the County Commissioners to evaluate and dispose of certain parcels in the Big Thompson Canyon;

 

b) provided that staff and board members will look at the eleven properties identified by the Loveland Fishing Club, to confirm that these parcels are appropriate to be retained by Larimer County for public fishing access; and

 

c) further provided that the remainder of the sixty parcels to be sold will be put up for public comment for 60 days prior to being offered for sale; and except that

 

d) those parcels for which sales are currently under negotiation will be brought to the Board individually for approval and public review through the PAB public comment process, and will not be required to go through a 60 day waiting period prior to conclusion of the sale. 

 

Rob Harris seconded the motion, provided it is amended to require that the evaluation and disposal process be put into written format describing how properties will be identified and put up for sale.

 

 

Discussion

§  Fishing is an important family activity.  It is important to protect pubic access to the river.

§  An interested group (Loveland Fishing Club) has already surveyed the areas and identified 11 sites.  It seems unnecessary to repeat that process with other interested parties.

§  Right now we are dealing with parcels involving specific property issues.

§  Does the motion as stated allow staff a process that is sufficiently uncluttered to continue making good progress?

 

The motion was approved as amended.

 

 

FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:

§  No meeting in December

§  January 8, 2008:  Funding Sources Overview:  Uses & Limitations – Deb Wykoff, Administrative Services Manager, Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant, and Gary Buffington, Director – 1 hour

§  February 12, 2008:  2008 Parks Capital Improvement Projects Budget Overview –Deb Wykoff, Administrative Services Manager – 1 hour

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

 

Debra Wykoff

 

 

Approved: ____________________________                     ______________________

                 Chair, Parks Advisory Board                                       (Date)

 

 

 

Next regular meeting: January 8,, 2007, at the Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building

 

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