Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

Minutes

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

 

Bison Visitor Center, 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO

 

Present:

Parks Advisory Board Members:

Linda Knowlton, Chair

Rob Harris

Ivan Andrade

Tom Miller

Frank Cada

Chad LaChance

Dave Coulson

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

Russell Fruits

Rich Harter

 

Staff

Gary Buffington

Randy Eubanks, County Commissioner

Dan Rieves

K-Lynn Cameron

Debra Wykoff

Lori Smith

 

 

 

 

Absent: 

 

 

 

 

The March 11, 2008, 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 February 12, 2008, were approved. 

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – None

 

GENERAL INFORMATION:  Questions – 5 minutes

§  Save the date, April 5th for this year’s auction, coordinated by Friends of Larimer County Parks and Open Lands.  Proceeds raised from both the silent and live auctions will go towards a new sign for Hermit Park along US Highway 36.  Donations for auction items are being collected.  There will be a $20 entrance fee to cover venue expenses. Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be served.

§  Parks and Open Lands events for March.  See handout.

BOARD COMMENT: Items not on the agenda –

§  The application form to join the Friends group is on the Friends’ webpage.    Chair Linda Knowlton recommends that all Board members join the Friends. 

 

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS:  None

           

ACTION ITEMS:

Big Thompson River Public Access:  Designation and adoption of specific parcels for public access

Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director, reviewed the history of the Big Thompson Flood of 1976, and the transfer of ownership to Larimer County in 1978 of parcels in the flood plain.  Dan Rieves, Blue Mountain Manager, reviewed the current level of operation and maintenance, and the budget at the Big Thompson roadside parks which are currently open to the public with no fee required.  The current status of the four existing public access areas is as follows:

§  The County and the Colorado Division of Wildlife cooperatively operate the Forks and Narrows parks for fishing access. The original value of the Narrows Park was to provide a public restroom at a time when there were no other public facilities in the canyon.  That is no longer true, and the Narrows facilities have deteriorated beyond repair.

§  Sleepy Hollow is open to public use seasonally from April to October. It is maintained by a volunteer.

§  Glade Park, operated by the Department, is usually open April 1 through first snow in the autumn.  The gate is open sunrise to sunset. 

§  A grant has been approved in the amount of $53,000, to resurface the parking lots, install restrooms at Glade and Narrows parks and improve social trails at all four park areas. 

 

The Department’s management responsibilities at all the Big Thompson parcels include:

§  Weed Control 

§  Erosion Control

§  Ranger Patrol

§  Grounds Maintenance (including tree removal)

§  Encroachment monitoring and mitigation

 

Three additional areas are proposed for formal designation as public fishing access:

a)  Indian Village (Area 7-river frontage only), near the tipi area.  This area has room for off-road parking, and adequate access to the river;

b)  North Fork (Area 20) on County Road 43; and

c)  An area near Waltonia (Area 14) with a wide area for parking.

Gary reviewed the parcels which have been sold, and also identified some parcels which are not suitable for public access.  As of February 1, 2008, Larimer County has sold 5 parcels in the Cotner Subdivision (Area 4) near Sylvan Dale. Area 4 is now complete and no more properties are available.  There is currently only one sale pending which has been in negotiation for some time, and which has gone through the process previously approved by the County Commissioners. 

A formal appraisal set the value of all the County-owned parcels at $1,437,300.  Restrictions on future use of these parcels were imposed by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which funded the original purchases of the properties.  These restrictions were transferred to River Bluffs, another County riparian open space.  This enables the County to manage or dispose of these properties as appropriate.  Due to the difficulty and exorbitant cost involved in surveying these parcels, any properties sold will be without a surveyed legal description, except at the purchaser’s expense.

 

The County’s goals in disposing of some of the properties include:

§ Reduce departmental expenses;

§ Consider returning property to private ownership, where appropriate, for better stewardship;

§ Continue to explore potential long-term partnerships on the three public parks and numerous river access sites;

§ Assure that any disposition of the properties is done in the best interest of the public and citizens of Larimer County.

 

BOARD COMMENT:

§  What is the availability of GOCO grant funding for these parks? 

§  What is the availability of projects for Eagle Scouts at these park areas? 

Staff Response:

§  Gary explained that we are limited to two GOCO grant submissions per cycle, and there are many competing demands in the parks.  GOCO only funds new or improved facilities.  Gary noted that funds can usually be found for capital improvements – it is the long-term maintenance of park areas over many years which it is difficult to fund without user fees.

§  Dan has a long list of possible projects for Scouts throughout the park system, not just at the Big Thompson park areas.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT:

Mark Lesley, Area Manager, Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW):  The Big Thompson Canyon is one of the best sustained fishing areas in Colorado.  CDOW supports preserving public access to the river, and supports the designation of the three additional proposed access areas.  CDOW would like to be involved in the process.

 

Bob Towry, resident:  He requests that the Board make a decision to retain the public fishing access.  It is in the best interest of the Board to retain all these areas.  As far as the upland areas which do not offer access, those are of no concern.  But he urges the Board to act now to retain all parcels with river access.

 

Walt Graul, retired from the Colorado Division of Wildlife:  These properties were acquired with an agreement to retain them in public ownership in perpetuity.  Damage has already been done when the LWCF obligation was transferred to an open space area.  Now any future Board of County Commissioners can sell these parcels whenever they choose.  Mr. Graul asks that the County retain ownership of all parcels which provide fishing access.  He also wants the County to commit to maintain them in perpetuity.  The County benefits from the tremendous value of the fish which are stocked in all the reservoirs for free – the County should be able to subsidize maintenance of these fishing access areas.

 

Hank Willis:  Lives ½ mile from the Big Thompson.  It is his pleasure to fish the river.  Fishermen won’t vote for anyone who takes our property.  Concentrating the fishing access in a few areas will ruin the fishing at those spots.  If parcels are sold, it should be with deed restrictions to preserve public fishing access.

 

Gary Miller, natural resource consultant:  His issue has to do with maintaining open space along the Big Thompson, in any riparian area.  He strongly recommends that the Board retain natural areas however small, along the Big Thompson – this will become more and more important as population grows.  These areas are precious, and rare, and will become more so in the future.  Can’t always look only at acreage – must also look at lineal access.  Good fishing requires a length of riverbank access – it can be quite narrow, but the longer the better. 

 

Dallas ________:  Lives in the Canyon, adjacent to some of these parcels.  He has read all the goofy articles in the newspaper, fear mongering with claims that fishermen are going to lose access to the river.  He very seriously doubts that the public will lose access to the whole river.  People who say this is the last remaining river, should be working on in-stream flows to improve and preserve fisheries.  The parking lots are not full now most of the time, and most property owners have no problem with fishermen accessing the shore.  He supports the Department’s course of action.

 

Keith Downey:  He is “just a fisherman” who has fished the Big Thompson River for 30 years.  He has been yelled at by homeowners, threatened with guns, etc.  To lose these areas for fishing access would be a great loss.

 

John Lewis:  He has fished the river for 40 years.  It’s a great stream.  The Big Thompson is an economic engine for Larimer County.  We must preserve the river as a tourist attraction.  If we preserve areas along the river, walleye will thrive there.  He would like to see Loveland cooperate with the County to preserve these areas.  He has been on the Loveland Parks Board for 8 years, and would like to see sales tax revenue used to preserve these areas.

 

Mike Horn:  He has lived in Cedar Cove area for 17 years.  Maintenance issues mentioned by the County include removing trees, controlling noxious weeds, etc.  He has never seen any County staff come in to do anything of the sort.  It’s been four years since they first heard about the County’s intention to dispose of the properties.  In that time five parcels have been sold.  How did it get to the point that five parcels have been sold without any public meetings for the public to give input?

 

_______:  Very upset that five parcels have been sold.  Who approved those sales?  Who recommended the sales?  No public review was required?  (Staff note:  The Board of County Commissioners took public comment before approving those sales.)

 

Linda Knowlton, Parks Advisory Board (PAB) Chair, noted that these five sales occurred before PAB was formed.

 

________:  A lot of people come up, leave their trash, let their dogs run loose.  All their mess is left behind for residents to pick up.  Residents have never seen anyone killing noxious weeds.  And they have never seen a fisherman volunteer to pick up trash.  There is no consideration for those residents for whom the river is their front yard.

 

BOARD COMMENT:

1  The four developed areas are not in contention; nor there any objection to designating the additional three areas proposed as public fishing access.  These areas should be addressed quickly before the Board focuses attention on the areas which are in contention.

 

2  Are any of these areas in anyone’s “front yard”? 

 

3  Was there anyone who objected to preservation of the proposed public access areas?

 

Staff Response:

1  The goal tonight is to finalize the status of the “no-brainers” by designating them as public access areas.  None of these areas is in anyone’s “front yard.”  There are no objections.

 

Ivan Andrade moved that the Board recommend to the Commissioners that the four areas identified by red dots on the handout map (Glade, Sleepy, Narrows and Forks parks) be retained as public parks.  The motion was seconded by Frank Cada, and passed unanimously.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Miller moved that the words “in perpetuity” be added to the motion just passed.  Rich Harter seconded the motion.  Following discussion below, the motion passed with seven in favor and three opposed.

 
 

 

 

Barry Lewis moved that the above motion for a recommendation to the Commissioners be amended to include a provision that the properties need not be held by Larimer County, to allow flexibility in moving forward with the intention to retain in perpetuity.  Rich Harter? seconded the motion.  Following discussion below, the motion passed unanimously.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Discussion on the motions

Ivan Andrade:  If the County is required to preserve these properties “in perpetuity,” then the charge must also include funding for maintenance in perpetuity.

 

Dan Rieves:  Does “in perpetuity” mean the County can never transfer it even if we’re broke?

 

Linda Knowlton:  Has heard of a conservation easement on which the obligation “in perpetuity” was dropped.  So adding those words will not necessarily guarantee that outcome.

 

Russ Fruits:  We can’t predict the future – what happens if there is another flood that changes everything, yet we are committed to preserve in perpetuity something that no longer exists?

 

County Commissioner Randy Eubanks:  Without conferring with the County attorney, it is difficult to determine whether the public will change its views and priorities in 40 years.  He agrees with the intent of the motion; but we need legal advice on the wording.

 

The Board then considered the three additional parcels identified in yellow on the map, which are proposed by the County for designation as public fishing access.

 

Rob Harris moved that the Board recommend to the Commissioners that the three  parcels identified in yellow on the map be designated as river access, in perpetuity, with the intent to remain in public access forever.  Tom Miller seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

 
 

 


 

 

 

 

BOARD COMMENT:

§  The process for disposing of parcels is not clearly stated in writing.  Can this process be put in a visible place where the public can see it?

§  Linda Knowlton, Chair:  Requests that Deb put motions in a box in the minutes, to make it easier to locate them later. 

§  It is suggested that all motions approved by the Board be collected and displayed in one location to avoid the necessity of searching the minutes.  How will the remainder of the identified fishing parcels be addressed?

§  The remainder of the parcels are more difficult to address.  Can we identify other better parcels that would be easier to deal with?  Frank Cada volunteered to look at additional parcels.

§  Tom Miller expressed hope that the additional 6 parcels could be addressed soon (before June, when Tom’s term on the Board ends.)

§  If parcel 12c is too difficult, do not include it.  But address the others as soon as possible.

§  Frank Cada offered to look at additional parcels and see how they can be grouped.

§  If there is another group of “no-brainers”, don’t hold them up – go ahead and present them and get them taken care of.

§  Which areas belong to the County, and are those are the spots where fisherman tend to park?

§  Tom Miller and Frank Cada looked at all 11 parcels this morning.  Area 3 is one they want to add.

 

Staff Response:

§  Gary:  The approved process will be put on the County website.  The parcels approved tonight will also be removed from the list of parcels on the website.

§  Gary:  The US Forest Service and the City of Loveland also have public fishing access areas in the Big Thompson Canyon – he’ll present those at a future meeting.   It is not solely the responsibility of Larimer County to preserve public access. 

§  Gary would like to take Board members on a tour of these parcels, so the group has a better idea what we’re talking about.

§  Dan Rieves:  The additional three areas adopted at this meeting will be signed, so the public can identify them.

 

Linda Knowlton, Chair, requests that a tour be scheduled on a Friday afternoon, which is preferred by the group.

 

Agreed:  A tour of the Big Thompson parcels will be scheduled on April 18, from 2 – 6 pm.  The tour will look at the six parcels under consideration.  Meet at the south end of the K-Mart parking lot, at the intersection of US 34 (Eisenhower) and Wilson Avenue in Loveland.  Board members only will be provided with transportation. 

 

Parks Advisory Board Bylaws – Review and take action on draft prepared by joint PAB-OLAB Bylaws committee

Rob Harris moved that the Board recommend to the Commissioners that the proposed bylaws be adopted.  Dave Coulson seconded the motion, which passed by unanimous voice vote.

 
 

 

 

 

 


PRESENTATIONS:

Overview of DNR Cost Accounting – Presentation by Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant

Lori Smith reviewed the process used by the Department to allocate shared costs fairly to the appropriate cost center.  Direct costs include supplies and services used at one specific location.  It also includes time reported by field staff on timesheets by location worked.  Indirect costs benefit more than one area and may be difficult to separate by use, like supplies purchased in bulk.  This includes “pool costs” like toilet paper, and also salary splits for management and administrative staff whose work benefits all areas of the departments. 

 

Cost drivers are standard objective measures used to determine how related costs should be allocated.  Cost drivers include:  Number of employees per program, number of restrooms, number of acres, number of vehicles, miles of trail, volunteer hours, hours of prior year events.  The cost of an item is allocated by percent, based on the appropriate cost driver.  These formulas are reviewed and adjusted annually.

 

Indirect cost pools include:  Administration and Accounting, Visitor Center building costs, mechanic services, volunteer and education programs, trails and weed control.  Costs for these areas are allocated periodically.

Dan Rieves noted that after the allocations are agreed upon, it happens automatically, without much time invested. 

 

BOARD COMMENT:

§  How current is the data available from timesheets?  (Current to last biweekly pay period.  All costs are entered directly into the payroll with the appropriate coding.)

§  Very well done!

§  Seems awfully complex.

§  Future discussions of the Big Thompson Canyon parks must include discussions of funding.
 

§  Those who benefit from use of the Big T. should be approached about contributing funding.

§  The Big Thompson parcels we have been neglecting are looking pretty good without any attention – managing “by dereliction” is working, without investing any time or dollars.

 

Linda Knowlton, Chair, reiterated that she and everyone on the Board are impressed with the encyclopedic knowledge of department finances demonstrated by Deb and Lori, and their remarkable enthusiasm for the numbers!

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Park District Managers, Mark Caughlan and Dan Rieves

§  The outlet project at Carter Lake is completed.  The reservoir is filling at the rate of 500ac.ft./day. 

§  The Carter Lake Marina is over budget, but on time.  Trenching for utilities in bedrock has pushed up the cost.  But the project is moving forward, despite the cost increases. 

§  The Carter Lake Marina building is on its way; we are still hoping to have it done and open by Memorial Day.

§  Horsetooth Reservoir is at the highest level it will reach for this year.  This is early for it to be filled.

§  Carter will top out at 5727 ft.  The south ramp will be in the water at the point where it goes from 3 lanes to 2 lanes.  The north ramp will be in the water about half way up.

§  Horsetooth ranger staff is down by two; recruiting is in progress.

§  Horsetooth capital improvements will include:  South Bay campground expansion with 15 full-service (with sewer, water and electrical hook-ups) campsites, South Bay camper services building, and Field of Dreams/Blue Sky Trailhead. 

§  The bids for modular shower houses came in at $350,000.  So we will build them in-house to save money – the estimated cost will be $300,000 each.  (Originally estimated at $140,000.)  Spring Canyon Water District is the water source.

           

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

Carter Lake Marina budget:  Due to several factors, including extremely difficult excavation, building cost increases, and addition of a separate residence for the Marina concessionnaire, the budget for the new Carter Lake Marina has increased significantly.  Additional funding will be loaned for the project from other Public Works Division resources, and will be repaid with 4% interest, over four years.  

 

BOARD COMMENT:

  • What will be the impact on future projects, if so much money is being spent on this project?

 

DISCUSSION ITEMS: None

 

FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:

April 8, 2008:  Presentation by Northern Water about proposed plans for Glade Reservoir – 45 min.

 

May 13, 2008:  Presentation by K-Lynn Cameron, Open Lands Manager, and Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant, on the Open Lands Program – Acquisition & Development

 

June 10, 2008:  Presentation by K-Lynn Cameron, Open Lands Manager, and Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant, on the Open Lands Program – Long Term Management

 


The meeting was adjourned at 8:45? p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Debra Wykoff

 

 

Approved: ____________________________                     ______________________

                 Chair, Parks Advisory Board                                       (Date)

 

 

Next regular meeting: April 8, 2008, in the Boyd Lake Room, at the Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak Street, Ft. Collins, CO

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