Tuesday, May 13, 2008 5:30 - 8:30 p.m., Bison Visitor Center, 1800 South County Road 31, Loveland, CO
Linda Knowlton, Chair
Barry Lewis, Vice Chair
Randy Eubanks, County Commissioner
The May 13, 2008, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Linda Knowlton, Chair, at 5:45 p.m.
Kerri Rollins, Open Lands Fund Development and Public Outreach Coordinator for the department, wrote the GOCO grant for seven Master Plan projects at Horsetooth Reservoir. She requested that the April 8, amendment to the Parks Master Plan be rescinded for these reasons:
· GOCO did not and will never dictate what should be in the Parks Master Plan, nor any local government’s plans.
· The staff proposal last month to move those full hook-up sites to a location south of the HT office has been withdrawn. This change, which was not included in the GOCO grant proposal, would have required a change to the Master Plan.
· The 12 campsites north of the Horsetooth office building are included in the Master Plan. This project was included in the GOCO grant. What is not in the Master Plan is that those will be full hook-up sites. This is not a significant change requiring amendment of the Master Plan.
§ Parks and Open Lands events for May. (See attached.)
§ Friends of Larimer County Parks and Open Lands raised $4,000, at their auction to benefit Hermit Park on April 5.
§ The annual CSU Unity days took place on Saturday, April 12, at Eagle’s Ridge Conservation Easement. The group conducted erosion control and attracted 18 participants.
§ The annual “Every Drop Counts” event that Anheuser Bush sponsors occurred on April 26th. They planted 550 shrubs and native seeds at Pleasant Valley Trail. Anheuser Bush is also donating nearly $5,000, for watering and maintenance of these plantings, which are required for Preble’s Jumping Mouse habitat mitigation.
§ Education Program Coordinator position attracted 68 applications. Interviews were held on April 30.
§ Two grants ($7,000 and $13,000) were received from the Colorado State Forest Service for forest management on Chimney Hollow Open Space.
§ Save the Date: The OLAB and PAB picnic is scheduled for Saturday, June 14, at Red Mountain Open Space. An invitation will be sent with more details in the coming weeks.
§ Trail Adoption groups will begin trail work in May and will continue through September. This year we have seven adoption groups, each will work three weekends during the designated season.
§ Bill Schultze was hired to fill one ranger vacancy at Horsetooth District.
§ Casey Cisneros was hired to replace Maxine Guill as the weed control specialist for parks and open space areas. Maxine has moved to the Weed District office, where she has assumed the responsibilities of Sr. Weed Specialist.
§ All department special event applications will soon be funneled through to County online special event process to streamline and simplify procedures.
§ Hermit Park Inaugural Year Celebration will be moved to August, due to construction delays.
BOARD COMMENT: Items not on the agenda
Big Thompson River public access parcels
Frank Cada thanked the staff for the Big T tour, which was helpful. He suggests that the Board continue discussion while the tour is still fresh in their minds. Linda stated that the next step is to review the proposed evaluation criteria, which staff were requested to expand and clarify, based on Board comments at the last meeting. Tom Miller requested that the retention of parcels identified by staff as appropriate be addressed at the next meeting, which may be his last.
Northern Integrated Supply Project and Glade Reservoir – 1 hour
The Board heard a presentation by Northern Water (NW) about the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and proposed plans for Glade Reservoir. Don Carlson, Assistant Manager for Operations, and Brian Werner, Public Information Officer, both of NW, described the long working relationship between Northern Water and the Natural Resources Department in managing the four reservoirs on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation.
Brian reviewed the history of the NISP project, going back to the 1980’s and 90’s when the river received two designations as “wild and scenic” and also as a “working river.” In 2004, the environmental impact process for NISP began with Northern Water coordinating the effort on behalf of 15 participants. The Army Corps of Engineers is the lead agency in the process.
Glade Reservoir will have more storage capacity than Horsetooth, but slightly less surface acreage. A smaller reservoir, Galeton Reservoir, east of Ault and Eaton will provide storage for agricultural uses.
Reason for the project: To meet future water demands for emerging communities which are growing and need additional water supply for the future. If the project is not built, water for those communities must be acquired from current agricultural uses. The project won’t stop that, but will slow it. An existing canal will be used to move water from the Poudre to the reservoir site. There will be no on-river facility.
The Poudre River goes dry on occasion due to other factors – and has for over 100 years. Conservation alone cannot meet the need. These communities are already practicing conservation, but that isn’t enough. 161 gals/day/pp on average are used by NISP participants; by comparison, the average in Denver is 200 gal/day/pp.
Glade will go up and down slowly. Water levels will go down more slowly than at Horsetooth. 110,000 ac. ft. will be the average storage in the reservoir, which will be 200 ft. deep. At its lowest storage level of 20,000 ac. ft., Glade would be 100 ft. deep. Glade won’t have miles of dry boat ramps that don’t reach the water. Boating facilities would be located at the south end of the reservoir, which is the deepest area.
Northern Water has had discussions with County Natural Resources (DNR) staff about the possibilities for recreation at Glade Reservoir. There won’t be much recreation at Galeton Reservoir. However there would be a 4000 ac.ft. fore bay reservoir below Glade, which would have great fishing potential and wildlife habitat.
There will be no negative impact to rafters in the Poudre Canyon, since they typically get out of the river above the location of the canal.
Following the extensive discussion below, Chair Linda Knowlton recommended that the Board set aside the management issue until later because the Board lacks the information to address that issue. It was agreed that the topic for comment will be the recreational benefits or impacts from a potential Glade Reservoir. Chad LaChance and Russell Fruits will serve as a subcommittee to collect and compile Board comments. Board members will comment to the subcommittee by email by May 27, 2008. The Subcommittee will distill all the comments to the top 15 for discussion at the June meeting of the Board.
Board comments: (Northern Water responses appear in parentheses)
§ Where is the water coming from? (From junior rights on the Poudre River, which will only apply about 40% of time – the other 60% of the time, the water will come from 2 ditch companies who will pull from Galeton Reservoir in exchange for Poudre water.)
§ Where is this water going today? (To Nebraska.)
§ Will Glade Reservoir be similar to Pathfinder Reservoir, which has been low for a long time due to climate change?
§ CSU and the Poudre School District have rights to use of some land which will be inundated – they want non-motorized boating only in the “thumb” portion. (NW owns 2/3 of the footprint for the reservoir. Poudre School District may do a trade with NW for other land.)
§ The EIS estimates 439,000 visitor days per year, compared to over 500,000 at Horsetooth, which has multiple access points. If all the boat ramps at Glade will be at the south end of the reservoir, how will that work? Won’t there be significant recreation traffic congestion?
§ As water recedes along US 287, the long grade will be a challenge for recreation. (If people like Horsetooth, which receives very high use, Glade will have the same or better aesthetic quality.)
§ The main draw to Horsetooth is boating; this will also be true at Glade – but no marina operation will be allowed on the water. (Correct. Marina facilities will be located below the dam.)
§ The EIS discusses possible contamination of the fore bay wetland below dam. Won’t that negatively impact fishing and wildlife habitat?)
§ Is it possible to do a stream flush back to the river, to restore stream flow in riparian area? (Maybe.)
§ Occasional floods help restore the riparian area – can this be maintained? (The Poudre will still flood – NISP can only divert 1200csf – that isn’t sufficient to prevent flooding. Look at Chapter 5 re mitigation.)
§ Would the NISP system possibly enhance the Poudre corridor through Ft. Collins? (Possibly. This will provide an opportunity to manage water flows – e.g., to manage trout fishing by releasing water when river is normally low and recapture it at Galeton, which may be able to help maintain more even flow year-round. This Board can offer comments on mitigation you would like to see.)
§ Could the Board request a comprehensive recreational assessment?
Mark Easter: He is the Conservation Chair for the Sierra Club and also involved with the Save the Poudre Coalition.
§ See handout.
§ Poudre Coalition is made up of ten organizations, and was formed four years ago.
§ The project is designed to take the peak flow from the river – may see hydrograph on their website.
§ The peak flow (June, July, and Aug) is critical to the long term viability and sustainability of the river.
§ Peak flow will be reduced to less than ¼ the historic flow, which will have serious consequences from the mouth of the canyon. The peak flow is important to wildlife and vegetation in the riparian areas.
§ The Sierra Club and Save the Poudre want to protect and restore the river before it is degraded.
§ Recreation opportunities at Glade are overstated – the reservoir would rarely be full.
§ 2 of 10 years, there would be no fishing or motorized boating available, nor for the years following as fish rebound.
§ The Poudre River Trail is a cooperative investment which will be endangered.
§ The City of Ft. Collins has assessed the current economic value of the river much higher than stated in the EIS.
§ EIS assumes motorized boating would increase overall recreation in the County. But in fact, use may shift between reservoirs (Horsetooth and Glade) rather than significantly increasing overall recreation use.
§ There are many reservoirs in Larimer County available for recreation, but only one Poudre River.
§ The theory that 2-3 years is required for fish population to rebound following low water is not based on experience with other reservoirs. What is that assertion based on?
§ HT was taken down to dead storage during the Safety of Dams project, and the fish population is better than before.
§ The Colorado Division of Wildlife said it wouldn’t stock Glade for trout. But walleye, bass, etc., would do fine.
§ What is the dead pool of Glade? (Higher than Horsetooth.)
§ If we build it, they will come – there is a heavy demand for more fishing options.
§ What is the anticipated impact to existing opportunities for recreation - birding, fishing, tubing, etc.? (What might be done or could be done has been discussed, but there are no firm proposals.)
§ Is there a reason why there are no plans to do marina operations on the reservoir? (To protect the quality of the drinking water supply, it is better to keep such facilities off the reservoir.)
§ What about zebra mussel containment? (Very concerned about it – they are urging BOR to take action at existing reservoirs to prevent the infestation or spread of zebra mussels.)
§ 11 Mile and Williams Fork reservoirs have been shut down to boating in the past week, because of the zebra mussel.
§ What is the basis for the visitation / economic impact as stated in the EIS?
§ Does the number of visitor days projected reflect new use, or a trade-off with Horsetooth?
§ This is a “growth/need” issue. Many of the comments which have been made assume that with population increase in Larimer County, increased services will be needed. The fact is that “if we build it, they will come.” Population is attracted to areas where amenities exist. For effective resource management, population should be encouraged to go where the amenities exist naturally – i.e., where there is a lot of water naturally available. If we want to preserve current conditions and quality of life as long as possible, then we should not be building new recreation facilities. In so doing, we are hastening the “California syndrome.”
This will not be a revenue-generator
for DNR. There is on average a 20-year lag in return of revenues to government
from the development of new, high-cost recreational facilities. The department
will not recoup it’s investment for many years. We cannot afford to assume management
of this project.
§ What about camping around the reservoir? (That will be part of the negotiations with the future recreation manager. NW isn’t in the business of managing reservoirs for recreation.)
§ With the possibility of drastic fluctuations, is it easier to manage a land-based marina than one located on the water? (Yes. It is also important to carefully monitor and maintain the quality of water in Glade.)
§ Would the pipeline flow both ways? (No, only from Glade to Horsetooth.)
§ The zebra mussel issue may result in no boating on Glade, which will change the recreation picture.
§ There are people who have stopped coming to Horsetooth and Carter due to excessive capacity. We are gravitating toward boat launch times and reservations. The demand for additional boating areas already exists.
§ If we were managing all of these reservoirs, and visitation were spread over 3 reservoirs, the visitor experience would improve.
§ We are full every weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The same is true with campgrounds, and with recreation in the Poudre Canyon. There is definitely a demand.
§ Fuel prices have an impact as well on recreation patterns.
§ We must also analyze the management costs involved and whether it can be done feasibly.
Chair Linda Knowlton explained that the management of Glade Reservoir is not currently on the table. So what does the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) want to hear from this Board? Can the Board comment on whether this is a good recreation opportunity for Larimer County?
§ From the Parks Advisory Board perspective, the issue is the recreation potential of the project. This is the voice from which we must speak, not from our personal perspectives.
§ The BCC may want to hear input on the overall recreational impact of Glade – not focusing just on the advantages of Glade, but also on the impact to current recreation on the river through Ft. Collins.
§ We can look at this as purely another recreation opportunity which we may decide to manage or not. The analysis may be: If the reservoir is built, then this is our analysis of the recreational opportunity for DNR.
§ Don’t base the decision on today’s population. This project will accelerate the rate of population increase. Demand for services will increase - a demand which we cannot afford to meet. We must first know where the funding will come from. People will never pay the full cost – the public will never be willing to pay the full cost. That is the role of government, to provide those services which the people cannot or won’t pay for themselves.
§ This is the California experience: Bring more water to LA, and you bring more people. Do we want to accelerate that trend in Larimer County? We should not focus resources to meet population – let the population go where the resources exist. The question, from the point of view of preserving a quality experience in the County, is this: Should there be another reservoir? The answer is no.
§ On balance, does it make sense to add another reservoir? The increased population in the communities using that water will come here to recreate on their water, where the cost of recreation facilities will be paid for with our money.
§ Build or don’t build? Manage or don’t manage? Discuss which or both? If the BCC has no control over the project, does it make sense for this Board to recommend that Glade should not be built?
§ Would it be a boost to recreation in Larimer County – a benefit or detriment overall?
§ What does the BCC want us to decide? What does the public want us to do? This Board represents the recreational public. Will Glade Reservoir be a benefit or detriment to recreation for Larimer County?
§ A list of bullets – opinions, concerns, or questions – seems like a good idea. (Carlson: If there is not sufficient information, or if inadequate analysis has been done, the Board may also request more.)
§ To build or not to build and why – those are the pertinent issues.
§ Benefits/gains vs. losses should be assessed.
§ What is the net impact to recreational opportunities, weighing the $17 million in new recreation value vs. $2 million in lost recreation value (using money as just an indicator – not as a relative indication of value.)
§ We don’t have enough information to answer the management question.
§ Open Lands: Acquisition & Development – Presentation by Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant – DEFERRED
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Park District Managers, Mark Caughlan and Dan Rieves
§ Youth/Mentor fishing tournament was a great event with 7 teams. It is expected to quadruple in size next year.
§ There was a drowning at Horsetooth yesterday. A fisherman tied off his boat to the ramp; it began to drift. He tried to swim out to it. Hypothermia sets in after 4-5 minutes. Other fishermen retrieved him, but CPR was unsuccessful. The cold water in these reservoirs makes it unsafe to do free swimming.
§ Revenue is up for both reservoirs about $30,000 so far this year over last year.
§ Annual permit sales online already exceed all of last year.
§ 56 hours of training has been invested in seasonal ranger staff, in preparation for Memorial Day weekend.
§ CAST event for handicapped kids is June 7. Volunteers welcome! Chad is recruiting volunteers with boats. This will be our 11th year hosting it at Horsetooth. It is sponsored by the Bureau of Reclamation.
§ Cabins have been booked up for the third weekend in a row. This is in line with our plan to extend shoulder season recreation.
§ Monthly water scheduling meetings with BOR have begun – the objective is to get more consistent and accurate info on water levels, etc. We are able to get more water into the reservoirs by direct communication with water schedulers. There will be a net gain until the first week of July, then the water level will begin going down at Carter. Horsetooth is at its maximum level for the season right now.
§ Rangers have been busy on serious issues – fatalities, wrecks, etc. This seems to be the trend for the future, especially for regular rangers. That’s why the seasonal rangers become the “front line” with visitors.
§ The Carter Lake Marina project is progressing quickly now.
DIRECTOR’S REPORT: Monthly update to the Board – Gary Buffington
§ Gary sent the Board a response to the Loveland Daily Reporter Herald editorial on the Marina cost overruns. There was no effort made by the newspaper to contact any staff before that ran in the paper.
Gary also sent out the Budget Questions and
Answers for the Board’s review.
§ You have stated that staff estimated the project at a certain cost for budget purposes, and then after work had begun and the old marina had been demolished, got the real numbers in April. It is difficult to understand how there could be such a great disparity in the numbers? How did that occur?
§ As soon as that number – rough estimate or ‘placeholder’ though it may have been – was plugged into the County budget, we became stuck with it. That was the original budget of the project.
§ What happens if you run into rock or other unanticipated difficulties – are you covered under the contract?
§ The decision to enter into that project was something that occurred outside the Parks Advisory Board process. The same is true of Hermit Park. The Board had no input on either of these projects – but the Board is inheriting the responsibility for it.
§ It was a design and build agreement. There isn’t really a bid process with that – you select the firm and then work with them to establish the price. We won’t do a design/build contract again. We’ll use an architect to design the project and then put it out to bid.
§ For almost 2 years, there has been a ‘placeholder’ in the budget (a rough estimate, no more) of $1.5 million. Staff lack the necessary expertise to prepare construction estimates, but had to set aside funding for planning purposes.
§ The old building had to be replaced or condemned. To do that required that other issues like parking and road alignment also be addressed. Given the cost involved in rehabilitating the old building, it made more sense to build new.
Capital Improvement Budgets and Construction Schedule – Update by Deb Wykoff, Administrative Services Manager
§ The updated budgets for construction projects were reviewed.
§ $600,000 in Lottery funds has been moved from the Hermit Park budget to the Carter Lake Marina. Open Lands sales tax funding will cover 100% of the development costs at Hermit Park this year.
§ An additional $500,000 in ADA funding may be available from the Bureau of Reclamation; and the requirements for ADA retrofits have been significantly reduced, which may free up another $500,000.
§ An internal loan through the Public Works Division will also be requested to fully fund all projects. The total required over a three-year period is currently estimated at approximately $1.76 million. However, if the additional funding becomes available and/or freed up from BOR funds, the loan amount may be up to $500,000 less.
§ Gary asked the Board to comment on his decision to borrow if necessary to match the $695,000 in GOCO funds for the Master Plan improvements at Horsetooth, rather than risk losing those funds. He solicits Board input.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.
Approved: ____________________________ ______________________
Chair, Parks Advisory Board (Date)
FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
June 10, 2008:
Presentation by Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant, on the Open Lands Program – Long Term Management – 45 min.
Staff Recommendation: Classification of scuba companies as short-term concessions – 30 min.
Staff recommends that all
repetitive, commercial uses on department-managed properties (including scuba
company operations) be classified as short-term concessions, subject to the
department short-term concession policy, procedure and fees, effective January 1, 2009.
To be scheduled:
§ Presentation by Northern Water (NCWCD) about the Windy Gap Firming Project and Chimney Hollow Open Space– Jeff Drager, Project Manager, and Jill Boyd, Communication Specialist
§ Implementation update on Hermit Park Management Plan – Meegan Flenniken, Open Lands Specialist, and Chris Fleming, Hermit Park Manager
Next regular meeting: June 10, 2008, in the Boyd Lake Room at the Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak Street, Ft. Collins, CO.