MINUTES

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, Boyd Lake Room, 200 W. Oak St., Ft. Collins, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Please call Deb at 619-4567 if you are unable to attend this meeting.  Votes require a quorum.  Thanks!

 

PRESENT:

Parks Advisory Board members:

Frank Cada

Russ Fruits

Frank Gillespie

Rob Harris

Ron Kainer

Linda Knowlton

Forrest Orswell

John Tipton

Steve Ambrose

David Hattis

 

Absent:

Mark DeGregorio

 

Staff:

Dan Rieves

Chris Fleming

Deb Wykoff

Gary Buffington

Mark Caughlan

 

Public:

Walt Graul

Jim Rood

 

 

The November 13, 2012, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order at 5:31 p.m.  Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

 

 

 

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda

Walt Graul, Berthoud, representing Friends of the Big Thompson River:  His message is that they are still here, and appreciate the progress made so far to keep fishing access in the Big Thompson canyon.  This started in 2004, so it has been a long process.  In the past year, not much has been done; and they are aware of the reasons.  But they want to encourage the Board to jumpstart the process for 2013 and get something accomplished.  They have tried to help out financially; they appreciate the budget issues involved.  They hope we can get over the survey hurdles, and move forward.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION: 

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

  • The Plug in to Nature (PIN) project was supposed to be presented at the Land Trust Alliance’s annual National Land Conservation Conference in Salt Lake City, UT, Sept. 29 – Oct. 2, but unfortunately Rob Novak was ill and unable to attend the conference. Heather Young presented the project in Keystone for the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association. The PIN project also received an award from the American Planning Association at their conference in Snowmass.

 

§   The 8th Annual Northern Colorado Birding Fair was Saturday, September 29th at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space, and attracted nearly 600 people.  The Fair is a collaboration between the County, City of Fort Collins, Rocky Mountain Raptor Program and the Audubon Society, as well as many local sponsors.

§   On September 9th, the Horsetooth Mountain trail race was hosted at Horsetooth Mountain with about 100 participants.

§   We hosted the second annual ‘40 in the Fort’ mountain bike race at Horsetooth Mountain on September 15th. The event was organized by Overland Mountain Bike Club and in partnership with Lory State Park. The race is considered an endurance race and the course is two loops over very difficult terrain. Peter asked how many people participated. Entry is capped at 200 participants. The event generates about $1500 - $2000 in Special Event revenue.

§   A mountain biker was bitten by a rattlesnake at Devil’s Backbone OS. It was reported in a few of the local newspapers.

§  Archery and muzzle loading season has started at Eagle’s Nest Open Space. Hunting is allowed on the weekdays, but not on weekends. We receive funding from the Division of Parks & Wildlife to help support this program.

§  Hunting season began at Red Mountain Open Space on Oct. 15. The season allows pre-scouting and nine permits this year.  Two really nice bucks have been taken; one bull elk was shot but not recovered.  He is being watched, but seems to be strong.  There were close to 300 applicants, a bit more than last year.  The elk stay in that general area all year long; right now they are in the corn. 

 

Frank Cada:  Who determines the quotas?  (The Division of Wildlife would like us to shoot more elk up there, but we’re still being cautious.  No ATV’s are allowed.)

§  A competitive bid process for agricultural lease at Long View farm has been completed. Harry Sauer has been recommended by Larimer County, Fort Collins and Loveland for a five year lease on three different parcels between Taft/Shields and Hwy 287.

 

  • The Small Grants for Community Partnering subcommittee has completed all necessary site visits.  There are 15 eligible applicants requesting a total of $26,000.

 

  • The Weed District received a $50,000 grant from the State Emergency Services and will use it to provide free weed management on private lands within the High Park Fire burn area this fall and spring 2013.  Landowners can call the Weed District to schedule a free site visit. 150 people have signed up for the service for next spring so far.

 

  • The County Forestry Program is partnering with the City of Ft. Collins to provide a site at the County Landfill for drop off of walnut trees infected with Thousand Canker disease.  Anyone, including contractors, can take the trees to the drop off location and private companies will then transport the infected timber and will treat the wood for it to then be used as marketable products. It will be a starting point for Dutch Elm disease, too.

 

  • Implementation of the GOCO Youth Corps grant to remove Siberian elm trees along the banks at River Bluffs Open Space is complete.  Next steps for 2013 will include additional elm removal as well as potential planting of willow and other native replacement trees in the riparian corridor.

 

  • Bank restoration and plantings at Lion’s Open Space are nearly complete.  The planting has been completed and the contractor will continue to water and maintain the shrubs on both sides of the Poudre River for the next five years as part of the contract.

  • Trails staff hosted other Natural Resources and City of Fort Collins staff, and the Overland Bike Club for a walk-through of Sawmill Trail. Approximately 25 attendees braved the cold to hike the new route. The trail crew also completed a short re-route around an unsustainable section of Nomad Trail.

 

  • The Department submitted a letter to WAPA requesting a trail easement along any new utility easements secured for the Estes-to Flatiron Transmission Line Rebuild Project. Numerous recommendations were also made to suggest the minimization of impacts to scenic and natural resources along the utility corridor.

 

  • Russ Fruits and Linda Knowlton are representing the Parks Advisory Board on the Our Lands – Our Future advisory committee.

 

  • OLAB Board Chair, Peter Kast, invites all Advisory Board members to his home for the annual Holiday Party on Dec. 13, from 6-9 PM. Invitations will be sent out via email and spouses are invited to attend. Please RSVP.

 

 


DISCUSSION ITEMS

 

Pinewood Master Plan Chris Fleming, Blue Mountain District Manager

  • Chris gave a Powerpoint presentation on the Draft Pinewood Renovation Project.  Pinewood is a gem, just 20 minutes from Loveland, located 4 miles above Flatiron Reservoir.
  • Improvements will be focused on the Windy Pines and The Launch areas.
  • The Ramsay-Shockey Open Space lies on the west side of Pinewood Reservoir; the campgrounds are located on the east side.
  • The desired visitor experience includes:
    • Fishing opportunities (trout, tiger musky)
    • Non-motorized boating, no-wake motorized boating
    • Rustic camping experience, including walk-in tent sites and rustic cabins
    • Picnicking
    • Trail use
  • Desired managerial conditions include:
    • Safety through limited staff presence
    • High quality faciliteis and cleanliness
    • Moderate level of visitation and revenue.
  • Current conditions:
    • Newest addition was vault restroom 15 years ago
    • Crowded conditions and eroded sites
    • Multiple entrance/exit points
    • No utilities besides water, which makes recruiting a camp host impossible
    • Trail incomplete
    • Water level fluctuations are dramatic and occur daily
    • Gorgeous viewshed, great fishing and hiking, but old facilities
    • No turn-arounds – makes traffic difficult
    • Old wooden picnic shelters; old tables
    • Due to switchbacks in the road up the mountain, we are not trying to cater to 40 ft. motor homes at Pinewood
    • Pinewood Launch area:

·   Two shelters are located between camp sites, which causes user conflicts

·   Campsites are located side by side, right next to the parking lot, with no privacy or shade

·   These sites fill up last

·   Boat ramp is too short to reach the water when the water level is low

·   Very limited parking for boaters

    • Windy Pines :

·   Most sites are on the hillside, and are not level

·   Must walk through other sites to reach some sites

·   The vault restroom is the oldest in the system – almost 35 years old.  The vault is not leaking.

·   The campsites are in the trees, with a view of the water

  • Draft plans from the Parks Master Plan were displayed, which utilized the existing footprint and failed to address some of the management concerns at Pinewood.  Features of the Master Plan included:
    • Individual paths to each camp site at Windy Pines
    • Camp host site at the Windy Pines campground
    • Improved traffic flow at The Launch
    • Separate entrances to each campground
    • Extended trail around the east side of Pinewood, through the campgrounds
    • Cabins at Blue Mountain, where there are currently two campsites.

 

  • Proposed plans:

·   Create limited access point, and one road for both campgrounds

·   Extend trail through the campgrounds

·   Possible paving of Windy Pines loop and connecting road

·   Separate day use area for shoreline fishing

·   Improved trailer parking beside the boat ramp

·   Extend the ramp

·   Replace the vault restrooms, and add one

·   Create a beach area where kayaks and canoes can be pulled up on shore

·   New camphost site with utilities, located at the entrance

·   Electrical service to the Launch sites and to the pull-through sites at Windy Pines

·   Natural amphitheatre for campground programs

·   Natural playscape and interpretive displays along the trail.

·   Parking for horse trailers.

  • Three options are possible.  We prefer Option B.

·   Option A:

·   Incorporate a camping loop and more campsites in the Launch area

·   Would require a lot of cut and fill to create the building pad for the extra campsites – this may be cost-prohibitive

·   Cabin opportunities

·   Electrical pull-through camp sites

·   Option B: 

·   Fewer sites, higher quality

·   Lollypop campground loop with a turn-around at the end in the Launch area

·   Steeper grade road connecting the two campgrounds

·   Option C:  Master Plan as designed – but it incorporates nothing new.             

·   Budget

·   Option A:  over $1,000,000

·   Option B:  Around $868,000 is a preliminary number for the construction portion, with a 20% contingency. 

·   Next steps:

·   Bureau of Reclamation approval is pending.  We cannot decrease water storage through use of fill.  Another possible issue is archaeological potential.

·   GOCO grant application due in February 2013.

·   Fishing is Fun and Motorboat Access grants are possibilities.

·   Public Process;

§   Open House scheduled for January 15, 5-8 pm at the Administrative Office

§   Postcards will be sent to all residents in the larger area

§   Web page comment section and press releases

·   Targeting Fall 2013, construction start date.

 

Board and Staff comments:

Rob Harris:  Does the Bureau inform us of planned water fluctuations?  (Yes, we receive daily updates.  But the timeline is so compressed at Pinewood that it does not allow visitors to plan ahead.)  How are the trees doing in the Pine Beetle epidemic?  (No spraying has been done yet, but so far, so good.)

 

Ron Kainer:  Is there a low water ramp? (No.)

 

Frank Gillespie:  Why do we want a trail all the way around (Public input has requested it.)

 

Russ Fruits:  Looks like a lot of earthmoving.  Would we retain the entrance to Windy Pines for maintenance access?  (yes)

Steve Ambrose:  Would the current entrance to Windy Pines be closed to public access?  (Yes)

John Tipton:  How many sites are gained with Option A?  (7)

 

Rob Harris:  Is it necessary to add fill to create space for the campsites at the Launch under Option A?  (Yes)  What is the total change in campsites?  (Adding 7, but removing a few at Windy Pines.)

 

Frank Cada:  Will the planned benches for fishermen be accessible to the water only at high water?  (Yes)  What about Chimney Hollow future development – should that be considered in determining what facilities are appropriate at Pinewood?

Dan Rieves:  We’re not planning camping at Chimney Hollow.  It will have a trail and become a small sailing and paddling destination.  Along with Flatiron and Pinewood, the three reservoirs will complement each other very well.  The electricity up on Windy Pines may be cost prohibitive due to bedrock close to the surface.

 

Linda Knowlton:  What was the figure in the Master Plan for this area?  ($360,000 for the “facelift” project.)

 

Mark Caughlan:  The improvements at Horsetooth and the shower houses have set the standard for quality which the public expects now.  We try not to underbuild or overbuild.

 

Dan Rieves:  The pull-throughs at our other campgrounds are 100 feet; these will be 70 feet – scaled to the appropriate use of these sites, by smaller rigs which can make the trip up the mountain. 

 

Frank Cada:  Is the project contingent on receiving grant funding? 

 

Gary Buffington:  We are committed to making these improvements – the first improvements in 35 years.

 

Linda Knowlton:  Does the cost include paving the road within the campground?  (No.)

 

Dan Rieves:  We want to leave all three options on the table for now – we could do any, depending on public reception, funding, etc.  This viewshed deserves a better camping experience.  Just because we can rent the sites in their present condition doesn’t mean we should.  We can’t expect to recoup our investment, based on use at Pinewood, but we still owe it to our visitors to provide a better quality experience.  Public feedback has been that they expect unpaved roads.  But the connecting road will be a 12% grade, and needs to be paved for maintenance purposes.

 

Gary Buffington:  In 10 years, with Chimney Hollow online, use may increase.  He would like to hear the Board’s comments and recommendations.

 

Linda Knowlton:  It would be better to present Option B as a contrast to the Master Plan.


Rob Harris:  Agrees.  No point in presenting an option we’ve eliminated due to excessive cost.  Show them the status quo, the Master Plan and our recommendation.

Gary:  Chris will return to the Board with a further report after the public open house.

 

ACTION ITEMS

2013 regulation changes/updates – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager

  • Changes proposed for 2013:

·   Addition of the word “mineral” to existing regulations to allow us to deal with gold panning issues.  We don’t have a problem with recreational gold panning.  But on some of our properties, we do not own the mineral rights.  The regulation will also allow us to deal with commercial type operations.

·   Adjusting regulations at Hermit Park to permit equestrian camping and to stipulate that weed-free hay is required.  The regulations will address how horses are handled, and limit the number allowed.  We don’t want someone free-grazing the meadow at Hermit Park, for example.  We want them to use the corral structures provided. 

·   The food storage regulation is expanded to allow hard-sided locked containers.

 

Linda Knowlton moved and Rob Harris seconded, that the regulation changes for 2013 be adopted as proposed.  Following the discussion below, the motion was approved unanimously.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 


Discussion:

Steve Ambrose:  Where do we have issues with mineral rights and gold panners? 

 

Dan Rieves:  We’ve had people panning at Glade Park and River Bluffs.  We could have issues in the Big Thompson River.  There was one guy with a sluice box and a Briggs & Stratton motor.  We need to find an appropriate location for this activity, and we can’t afford to research the mineral rights on all our properties.

 

Another topic that will affect us is Amendment 64.  What is/is not drug paraphernalia and other issues must be determined before the new law can take effect. 

 

Russ Fruits:  What is “not in public”?

 

Dan:  Expectations of privacy come into play – inside a motor home or a tent may be considered as “inside a private residence” – not yet defined. 

 

David Hattis:  Do the fines return to the department?  (Yes, 100%, except for $5 per water-based ticket, which goes to Dive Rescue.)  Also, what about terrestrial invasive species management?

Mark:  Most fines are $50; a few are $100.

 

Dan:  Our Land Stewardship Program manages weed control for the county and for the department.

 

STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:

Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager

§   Hermit Park is wrapping up.  Pinewood will begin in 2013.  S. Shore improvements will begin in 2014.

§   Automated pay stations have been up and running since the end of October.  Programming glitches are being addressed.  We’re also planning to make a change to allow purchases by 1, 2 or 3 days of permits.  There have been zero complaints.

§   Field Manager will be implemented system-wide for camping registrations in April, 2013.

§   The new annual permits will go on sale in December.

§   In addition to the Sheriff’s commendations presented at the last PAB meeting, Howell Wright and Bill Schultze received commendations for their actions in the Estes Park fire and Kyle Williams for rescue of the little girl from a pitbull.

Horsetooth:

§   Eagles Scout project at Inlet Bay.

§   ANS inspections Thu – Sun in November; half a day on the weekends in December.

§   Maintenance staff is just as busy in the winter, getting the parks ready for the next season.

§   Fishing Expo is March 9 and 10, 2013.

Blue Mountain:

§   Two rangers in the FTO program have completed training and are now POST-certified. 

§   Estes campgrounds are closed for the season.

§   Hermit Park closes on 12/15.

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

·   We wrote the Parks Master Plan in 2007; we’ll be finished before 2017.

·   Horsetooth offices and shop are scheduled future projects; a nature center will be deferred until the sales tax is renewed.

·   Carter Lake Marina store:  Usage of sewage capacity has been very low, so we could significantly increase capacity on the outside deck and in the store.  We are looking at expanding the food service offerings at the Marina store.

·   2012 was a low-water year, and 2013 is a question mark.  We are meeting with the Bureau of Reclamation monthly to review what happened with the water this year.  For us to explain to the concession operators and the public what is happening, we need more inside information.  Without that we cannot be proactive.

·   Conservation Trust Fund fund balance will allow us to make all improvements and pay off the Solid Waste loan of $1.2 million, and still make it to 2020 with a positive fund balance.  No subsidy of operations is expected to be required during that time, based on current projections.

           

The meeting was adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

 

The December meeting has been cancelled.  Next meeting will be in January.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Debra Wykoff

 

 

APPROVED:

 

 

 

Russell Fruits, Chair

 

Next regular meeting: January 8, 2013, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, Boyd Lake Room, 200 W. Oak Street, Ft. Collins, CO  

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