Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

MINUTES

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Natural Resources Administrative Offices

1800 S. County Road 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:

Steve Ambrose

Frank Cada

Frank Gillespie

Rob Harris

David Hattis

Ron Kainer

Linda Knowlton

Russ Fruits

Forrest Orswell

John Tipton

 

Staff:

Steve Johnson, Commissioner

Gary Buffington

Mark Caughlan

Chris Fleming

Dan Rieves

Debra Wykoff

 

Absent:

Mark DeGregorio

 

The August 14, 2012, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Russ Fruits at 5:35 p.m.  The minutes of the May 8, 2012, meeting were approved.

           

The Parks Advisory Board photo for the 2012 Annual Report was taken by Charlie Johnson.

 

Three new members joined the Board at this meeting.  Each briefly recounted their background and interests which are pertinent to their service on this board.

§   John Tipton, appointed to a 2 year term, is a grad student at CSU,  a PhD candidate in Statistics. He is recently engaged and planning to marry in May

 

§   Steve Ambrose, appointed to a 3 year term, lives in Ft. Collins.  He is married, with two daughters.  He spent 39 years with the US Forest Service.  His degree is from CSU in forest management.  He’s a master naturalist with the City of Fort Collins, and enjoys taking the kids out.

§   David Hattis, appointed to a 3 year term, has been a forester with the USDA Forest Service for 25 years.  Earlier in his career he was involved with recreation management; more recently, he has focused on managing campground vegetation.  His wife is also a forester.  He has two sons.  He is interested in learning about how the Board works with the department and the Commissioners. 

§   Two other Board members have been reappointed to 3 year terms:  Frank Gillespie and Forrest Orswell.

§   Barry Lewis has completed his service, and has left the Board as of June 30; but he has asked to remain on the distribution list, so that he can stay in touch with issues facing the department.

 

Current members of the Board also introduced themselves for the benefit of the new members.

§   Ron Kainer has been on the board one year.  He took the Larimer County 101 course, and that got him interested.

§   Frank Gillespie was also in Larimer County 101 last year, and found it very interesting.  He is just beginning another 3-year stint.  He volunteers for the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, and is a naturalist with this department (Natural Resources.)

§   Frank Cada lives near Carter Lake; he is a retired engineer from Hewlett Packard. 

§   Linda Knowlton is an original member of the Board, and of the task force which preceded it.  She worked for the USFS for 20 years.

§   Rob Harris was also an original task force and board member.  He and his family have been patrons of the parks for many years, waterskiing, etc., and he has a sailboat at Carter Lake.

 

§   Forrest Orswell is an attorney at CSU, beginning his second 3-year term.   He is an avid fisherman.

§   Russ Fruits is the Chair of the Board and beginning his sixth year with the Board.  He owns a brewery in Loveland, and used to be a lot more outdoorsy than he is now!

§   Steve Johnson, Commissioner, thanked everyone on the board for their volunteer service.  This board is a diverse group of people to help guide us as a department and a County.

§   Orientation activities will be scheduled for the three new members of the Board. The Board will be notified when the orientation dates are set as well as be invited to participate in the orientation activities.

BOARD MEMBER REPORTS – None

PUBLIC COMMENT – None

 

GENERAL INFORMATION: 

§  Natural Resource Events for this month: See website http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources.

  • New County Recreation Maps are available – includes slight updates/changes and is more durable.
     
  • If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, be sure to “like” or “follow” our pages.

  • 30 members of the Northern Colorado Climbers Coalition worked with the trail crew on the Fawn Hollow trail at Carter Lake Reservoir.

§  Board members are invited to attend the Colorado Open Space Alliance (COSA) annual conference on September 17-19 in Steamboat Springs, CO. The Colorado Open Space Alliance is a statewide organization of publicly funded local and regional open space programs, working cooperatively to share information, create public awareness and foster partnerships needed to protect and preserve the special places of Colorado.  The conference agenda and session descriptions online at www.coloradoopenspace.org. If any Board members are interested in attending, please contact Deb Wykoff, at 619-4567, or Zac Wiebe, 619-4534, for more information.

 

§  The Poudre River and Regional Trail Corridor GOCO grant partnership project ranked #1 in the state and was funded at nearly $5.1 million. Gary Buffington and other staff members attended a press conference hosted by Governor Hickenlooper at Confluence Park to announce the results on 6/19. The project is being initiated with agreements among the participating parties. A celebratory media event was held at River Bluffs Open Space in mid-July. 

 

§  AECOM, formerly known as EDAW, was awarded the Regional Land Conservation, Stewardship and Recreation Study RFP and a subcontract was awarded to Trust for Public Lands for the mapping and economic portions of the study. The informational study will cover topics such as public surveys, financial stewardship, conservation funding, and gap analyses. A partnership has been formed in order to fund the study to include Larimer County and the cities of Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park, Berthoud, Wellington, Windsor, Johnstown and Timnath.

 

§  A major re-route and redevelopment of the Foothills Trail at Horsetooth Reservoir associated with the State Trails/Overland Bike Grant was completed by the Natural Resources Trail Crew. The trail spans from the Rotary Park to the Sunrise Day Use Area.

 

§  Tim D’Amato, Land Stewardship Manager, led a State Weed Network tour with 50+ people in attendance. The tour highlighted numerous weed management sites in the county including the successful outcome of the most recent Rx Burn/herbicide treatment for restoration on the west side of the Indian Creek Valley (off Mildred Lane). The turnout for the tour was great and really demonstrated our efforts in controlling leafy spurge.

 

§  Estes Valley Land Trust hosted a breakfast meeting at Hermit Park on 7/15.  Kerri Rollins gave the keynote address, while our Education and Outreach staff organized and led activities for the estimated 100-110 attendees. The breakfast meeting included events coordinated to showcase the Hermit Park renovations, wildflowers and wildlife, a hike to Kruger Rock and activities for kids.

 

§  Commissioner Donnelly and staff will host public hikes at the Devil’s Backbone Open Space on 8/24, from 8:30-10:30, as community outreach efforts.

 

§  Dan Rieves reports that we started out early with hot weather, and heavy camping during the early season, followed by the High Park Fire, followed by the drought and low water.  It’s been a crazy year!

 

 

ACTION ITEMS

Election of officers

  • This business would normally have occurred at the July meeting, but was postponed because that meeting was cancelled.

  • Board Chair :  Russ Fruits was nominated by Linda Knowlton;, seconded by Rob Harris.  Nomination was unanimously approved.

  • Vice-Chair:  Rob Harris was nominated by Linda Knowlton; Forrest Orswell seconded.  Rob noted that he will not be going to Winter Park this winter, but may be going on a church mission next year.  Nomination unanimously approved.

PRESENTATIONS - None

 

DISCUSSION ITEMS

Big Thompson Flood Parcels – Charlie Johnson, Sr. Land Agent

  • Charlie explained for new members that these parcels resulted from the Big Thompson Flood in 1976.  Properties damaged more than 50% were purchased by the County.  We are now working to convey, trade or sell these areas which are inappropriate to bring into public use.

  • When we transfer parcels, we retain a 10 ft. buffer for public access along the river, and this requires surveying each parcel. For one parcel, we hired a surveyor, and it was very expensive.  Most are surveyed by County surveyors at no charge.

  • There were a 166 parcels totaling less than 120 acres.  Many parcels are just a small strip of land between two adjoining parcels.

  • Several local recreation groups provided a list of priority parcels to the Board; and it was decided to address those first.  Most of those have been accomplished and have been retained for recreation access.  Each parcel requires PAB review followed by Commissioner review.

  • Charlie has had no time available to work on this project, due to other priority commitments.

  • The Narrows :  Charlie reviewed the map.  We expect these parcels to be surveyed in September.

  • Charlie reviewed the parcels and the expected changes in ownership.  These properties are first offered to the current adjacent owners and the previous owners.  If neither wants it, then we go to a sealed bid process.  No building or camping is allowed on most properties.  Proceeds of sales go toward management of the remaining properties.

 

  • Indian Village :  Charlie reviewed the map.

 

  • Area 17:  There is one buildable 5-acre parcel here.  It will be sold on a sealed bid basis, retaining the river corridor in its entirety, along with a 10-ft. buffer. 

Board and Staff CommentS:

  • Linda Knowlton:  Noted for the benefit of the new Board members that this item has taken more time of this board over the past 5 years than any other topic.

  • Steve Ambrose:  Were there any limitations on the properties when the County acquired them?

  • Gary:  Yes, the Land and Water Conservation Fund conditions on the properties were transferred to other County open space areas to allow us to dispose of these properties.

  • Frank Gillespie:  Can the public go down the road on the south side of the road?

  • Charlie:  Doesn’t know for sure.  It’s private property.

  • Gary:  We will try to get the no parking signs removed in the area near Big T Elementary.

Sail & Saddle (S&S) Club License renewal – Mark Caughlan, Horsetooth District Manager

  • The Sail & Saddle Club President briefly summarized the club’s activities.  There are presently 20 families that are members.  There were 10 boats last year, and 12 this year. Everyone helps maintain the club.  No new members have been brought in except when someone leaves, maybe five in the past five year.  They maintain their own docks and buoys, and do all the maintenance  required.

  • Mark Caughlan reviewed the history of the club:  Two guys, Elton Collins and Tuck Howell, started the recreation department, and also started the S&S Club.  Only 2  counties in the country do reservoir management.  It’s a small one-room building.  It has septic and water.  If the County took it over, the amount of improvements that would be required to open it to the public would be prohibitive,  just to get water and sewer there.

Board and Staff Comments:

  • Rob Harris:  What’s the ongoing fee? 

  • Mark:  Staff recommendation is to continue the current fee of $10,000 per year for the next 5 years.

  • Gary:  In comparison to the fee of the Carter Lake Sail Club, it’s on a par for per-boat cost.

  • Dan:  There are only so many slips and boats allowed in our agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation.  On a per-boat basis, we make more money from the sail clubs than from the marinas.

  • Gary:  We addressed the exclusive use issue with the club five years ago.  It is in their contract to allow community access to the area.

  • Linda Knowlton:  When water levels get low, how does that affect their facilities?

  • Mark:  It affects them before it affects us – their ramps are shallow and are already out of the water.

  • Steve Johnson:  What does the “Saddle” refer to?

  • The Club president explained that back in the old days, you could ride everywhere from that location.

  • David Hattis:  Sounds like a good working relationship with the club?

  • Mark:  We don’t even know they’re there – never need to respond there.  They are self-sufficient.

  • Dan:  They are a model tenant – the type we want to keep a good relationship with.  If we ever decided to put this out to bid, it would be difficult to figure out how to do that and what use that location could be put to.

  • Mark will bring a proposed license to the next meeting.

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager ; Mark Caughlan, Horsetooth District Manager; Chris Fleming, Blue Mountain District Manager

§   Staff is working on the annual permits to have them ready by the holidays.

§   Carter Lake monument signs have been installed – one at the entrance to the Marina, and one near Gate 1 for traffic coming up from the south.

§   High Park Fire:  Many rangers worked roadblocks, evacuations, etc., including delivering feed to livestock that had not been evacuated.  Horsetooth Reservoir was closed for a week; all equipment and staff were relocated.  Financial impact of shutting down was around $30,000 in revenue loss at Horsetooth.

§   Charlie Johnson is now working with up to 70 landowners to get permission to begin mulching and reseeding to prevent mudslides.

§   Horsetooth Mountain Open Space was also closed for a longer time.  We were fortunate to suffer no damage to the Open Space.

§   Automated pay stations :  There have been challenges at Horsetooth Mountain – it has been difficult to get connectivity there – we added an antenna.  When there is no connectivity, the data is stored until connectivity is restored.  Full implementation will be 11 additional machines – all stations will be installed by 10/31. The old vault has been removed from HTMOS.  The same system will be used at other locations – the old vault will remain for a period of time, with notice to the public that it will be removed eventually. 

Board and Staff Comments:

§   Linda Knowlton:  Will there be signs directing people where to go if they don’t have a credit card? 

§   Rob Harris:  How much will the entrance stations still be staffed?

§   Dan:  Hours may be reduced in response to demand.  But the lion’s share will be in locations without an entrance station.  We need to do a good job of communicating all the places and methods of purchasing various types of permits.

§   David Hattis:  Is there a service contract with the machines?  What is the value of this system for us versus the cost?

§   Dan:  The machines cost $8000.  The machine notifies staff when there is a problem.  We’ve received excellent customer service from Cale – they also supply CSU and other local locations. 

§   Gary:  The return on investment for us is customer convenience and time savings for staff in processing revenues.

§   Dan:  Estimates that 25% of permits in use at any time are bogus.  The machine has the ability to give a receipt for an annual permit purchase – we’re not using that feature at this time.


§   Field Manager:  This is a product of the Active Network reservation system company, which allows us to manage walk-in camping sales, and also to sell permits at the entrance station.  For 2013, we will expand to use the camper registration system at the reservoirs, but not the permit sales feature, to reduce the amount of staff training and implementation required.  Now working on connectivity issues, e.g., to enable camp hosts to register campers onsite.  Rangers will no longer sell camping permits or camping. 

§   New Short term concessions :  Stand up paddleboard rentals, classes and yoga at the reservoirs, will be in operation as soon as next week.  The concession process ensures that vendors have proper insurance, and controls access.

§   Master Plan:  Drawings and concept designs for Pinewood Reservoir will be the next project brought to the Board.  We will be going for a spring GOCO grant cycle application.  Next will be South Shore at Carter Lake, which will involve adding camping loops, parking for Chimney Hollow future access, etc.

§   Water levels:  Our largest concessionaire sits in Inlet Bay, which loses water early.  There is a 100% quote this year, and a lot of water going out.  We try to give the Marina a 2-3 week window to get his boats out.  Only the South Bay ramps are still in the water at Horsetooth.  The problem is managing the public perception that the reservoir is dry, when there is still 6 miles of water at Horsetooth.  Our fisheries endure the water fluctuations very well.  Carter Lake will be about normal; may keep all ramps through Labor Day. 

§   Revenues:  Really strong March and April recreation has balanced out the fire and low water losses.  The Carter Lake Marina has had one of its best years ever.

§   Airstream travel trailer :  We haven’t taken possession yet.  We are purchasing a 1976 Airstream, rebuilt with all new interior and exterior, for around $36,000.  It’s 34 feet long.  It will rent for $100-120 per night.  It will be stationed at different parks throughout the summer, to attract different visitation.  It will be a marketing tool. 

§   Hermit Park:  There will be some cow elk hunting there this fall.  We are working with the Division of Wildlife on this.

 

Board and Staff Comments:

  • David Hattis:  How were closures and public concerns addressed during the fires? 

 

  • Dan:  The Sheriff’s public information website was very through, including park closures, road closures, etc.  Our campground reservation system also did notifications on camping closures and handled refunds.

 

  • David:  What has been the impact of the power lines that were replaced in the campgrounds last year?

 

  • Dan:  There were already power line poles in the campgrounds; the new ones look different, are larger, etc. 

  • Mark:  From an operational standpoint, the footprint is smaller than before, and the lines are higher, which is better.

  • Chris:  There will also be lines replaced at areas in the Blue Mountain district as well.

  • Gary:  The cost of taking them underground was significantly higher, so not feasible.

Blue Mountain District

  • Arrests are up.  A ranger saved a young girl from the jaws of a pitbull.  Another ranger saved an 8 year old in anaphylactic shock.  A major fish hatchery had to dump all their fish – 30,000 at Carter, and 20,000 at another reservoir.

  • Fishing is Fun grant project : New fishing access at Flatiron is completed and receiving rave reviews!

  • Cheyenne Day Use Area:  Hope to re-open to public access in the next month.

  • Bears are active in Hermit Park.

  • Utility issues at Mary’s Lake continue.
     
  • New EVRPD Director has been fantastic to deal with.

  • Equestrian campground at Hermit Park will be started within a month.  This will be one of only two in northern Colorado.

Horsetooth District :

  • Sunrise swim beach has been phenomenally busy.

  • Stroke and stride program – 40-60 people participating.

  • Triathlon was cancelled due to the fire – hope to do it in 2013.

  • Yoga on the beach – 30-40 people per class.

  • Fishing has been great at Horsetooth.

  • Some trees were moved at S. Bay – it didn’t work.  They will be replaced with smaller trees.

  • This was the first year we saw the new beach at S. Bay.

  • There is a new metal palm tree at the entrance to the beach.  People line up to get their photos taken with it.

DIRECTOR’S REPORT –

·   Master Plan improvements:  We’ve made millions in improvements since 2007.  We borrowed $1.2 million from Solid Waste, and are currently making interes- only payments at .9% interest. Gary thanked and congratulated the Board on their help with that.

·   Appreciation events for the advisory boards:  Gary asked for feedback on what type of events are appreciated.  He asked the board members to email him with input.  Rob Harris commented that he enjoyed the hockey games.

·   Orientation for new board members and tours will be scheduled soon.  All members are welcome to attend.  Information will be sent out.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Debra Wykoff

 

 

Approved:

 

 

 

 


Russell Fruits, Chair

 

 

 

Next regular meeting: September 11, 2012, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 W. Oak St., Fort Collins, CO

Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks

 

 

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