Thursday, November 29, 2007 – 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Loveland Library MP Room


The mission of the Larimer County Open Lands Program is to preserve and protect significant open space, natural areas, wildlife habitat, develop parks and trails for present and future generations.  These open lands provide opportunities for leisure, human renewal and protection of our natural and cultural resources.








Open Lands Board Members:

Ted Swanson

Sue Sparling

Don Griffith

Peter Kast

Bob Streeter

Nancy Wallace

Brian Hayes

Jim White

Bill Newman

Bill Pinkham

Ben Manvel




Kerri Rollins

K-Lynn Cameron

Meegan Flenniken

Windy Kelley

Gary Buffington

Charlie Johnson

Glenn Gibson

Lori Smith

Jeffery Boring




Jean Carpenter



Chair, Nancy Wallace called the meeting to order at 5:11 p.m.


Bill P. motioned to approve the October minutes.  Ben seconded and the motion passed unanimously.



No public comment



·  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.  Jean Carpenter

·  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 caretakers house.  Great job Jean!!

·  On Saturday, October 20th,  we celebrated the 100’s of people including the Open Lands Board that have volunteered over 25,000 hours this year to help us serve our visitors and protect our parks and open lands at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.  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.  Thanks to Windy and Kerri for such a great success!

·  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. Great job, Kerri!

·  Education Plan for Larimer County Natural Resources. Kerri provided an update on the progress of the Education Strategic Plan. The plan is expected to be completed mid-spring 2008.

·  Hermit Park Open Space Update.  See handout. Meegan noted several high priority improvements identified in the management plan (i.e. turning lanes from US Highway 36, bringing internal roads to County Road standard “G”, etc.), these improvements are required by state/county regulations’ to open the property to the public. The projected cost for the high priority improvements is approximately $1.1 million; the cost will be split in-half by the Open Lands Program and the lottery. She added the Special Review will be submitted to the County in December.



·  2008 Department of Natural Resources Calendar – K-Lynn highlighted a few features of the new calendar.



·  No comment.



·  Conservation easements and the Colorado Tax Credit Program:  A proposal to partner with Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT) to protect this important conservation tool.  See handout.


K-Lynn discussed the conservation easement (CE) tax credit program in the state of Colorado. Since the State approved transferring tax credits from one person to another in 2003 the numbers of conservation easements has significantly increased. Recently the Department of Regulatory Affairs issued 50 subpoenas to organizations holding questionable conservation easements.  The Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT) has reported none of their member organizations were subpoenaed. Alice Madden, House Majority Leader, has formed a task force to prepare recommendations regarding the tax credit program for the legislature to consider during their next session. Several problems/issues that have been identified include: 1) Appraiser misconduct (i.e. overvaluing property); 2) Misrepresentation of conservation values; and 3) Donor intent. The task force is looking into the following options to improve the tax credit program for conservation easements: 1) Certification of CE holders; 2) Certification of appraisers; 3) Consumer protection process for landowners; and 4) Prescreening of proposed CEs.


K-Lynn added the IRS is also reviewing 250 conservation easements from 2003 in Colorado. Recently, the IRS stated 90% of these easements are bad, with general findings that the CEs are over appraised. Senators of Colorado and several entities question the IRS’s findings.


Charlie noted the tax credit program enables landowners to donate a portion of, or all of the value of an easement. As a result, the County does not have to pay for the value of the donation.


K-Lynn added several land trusts are providing funding to CCLT to assist the statewide organization in its efforts to protect the Colorado Tax Credit Program. K-Lynn added she has contacted the County Attorney’s office to determine how the Open Lands Program can participate in these efforts which will benefit Larimer County.


·  Larimer County Natural Resources budget. See enclosures. Lori Smith, Senior Accountant

Lori explained projections indicate 52% of the 2008 revenue budget for the Natural Resources Department will be generated from taxes (i.e. Property and Sales tax), 22% revenue from permit sales, 15% from intergovernmental contracts (i.e. Bureau of Reclamation and state lottery funds), 4% intragovernmental (i.e. general fund, etc.), with the remaining 7% generated from other services and miscellaneous. The Department’s total projected revenue for 2008 is $8,700,560.


The total projected 2008 revenue budget for the Open Lands Program is $4,741,462. The sales tax will provide an estimated 85% of the revenue, while park and campground permits will contribute 7% (i.e. Soderberg and Hermit Park open spaces), with the remaining 8% generated from the City of Loveland, development fees and services and miscellaneous.


Estimates for the 2008 Parks Program indicate 49% of the revenue budget will be generated from park and campground permits, 19% from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, 17% from the Conservation Trust Fund (i.e. lottery), 8% general fund and the remaining 7% miscellaneous. The Park’s Program total projected revenue for 2008 is $3,292,870. Calculations indicate the total 2008 revenue budget for the Stewardship Program will be $666,228. Real property and specific ownership fees will contribute 72% of the budget, 19% from assessments and other services, with the remaining income from the general fund and solid waste.


Lori noted the Department’s projected expense budget for 2008 is as follows: 56% open lands & regional fees, 37% park operations & projects and 7% stewardship. The Open Lands Program projected expense budget breaks down as follows: 49% acquisition & development, 26% long-term management and 25% debt service. The Parks Program 2008 expenditures will be as follows: 63% park operations and 37% park projects & grants. Finally, the Stewardship Program projected expenses are as follows: 68% pest control, 20% weed enterprise, with the remaining 12% for forestry general and enterprise. She added the revenue and expense balances may not be equal due to carryover from 2007.


·  Transfer of Horsetooth Mountain to the Open Lands Program.

K-Lynn reviewed the Board’s discussion during the October meeting. Nancy asked the Board if anyone had additional comments they wanted to share regarding the possible transfer of Horsetooth Mountain Park to the Open Lands Program. No comments were added.


·  Results of Open Lands Prioritization Exercise for 2008-2012.  See enclosure.

K-Lynn presented the results from the October prioritization exercise the Advisory Board completed. The number one priority is the regional trails, with the Poudre River Trail as the highest priority. The Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains Project is the second priority, followed by Hermit Park Open Space. She noted as we move into 2008 the priorities will be taken into consideration along with funds available and projects that are ready to move forward. We will likely begin to move forward on the Laramie Foothills Project and Hermit Park as the Poudre River Trail may not be ready until 2009 or 2010.


·  Regional Trail Program.  See enclosures.  Jeffrey Boring, Open Lands Resource Specialist and Charlie Johnson, Open Space Land Agent

Jeffrey recapped the history of the County’s Regional Trail Program beginning in 2001 when the Open Lands Master Plan identified approximately 200 miles of trail corridor. In 2005 a trail prioritization of these 200 miles took place, identifying 7 trails as high priority. In 2006 these high priority trails were assessed for feasibility (i.e. timeline, partners and funding). Poudre River, Boxelder, Duck Lake and Long View trails rose to the top of the priority/feasibility list.


Jeffrey said the Boxelder Trail is expected to be longer than 6 miles though the exact route still needs to be identified and the land acquired. This trail is expected to be natural surface and provide a connection between the town of Wellington and Natural Areas managed by the City of Fort Collins.


The Duck Lake Trail will connect the Cities of Loveland and Fort Collins and is part of the Front Range Trail.


The Poudre River Trail is the County’s highest priority trail. Jeffrey and Charlie are meeting with area landowners discussing prospective trail easements. They anticipate the Poudre River Trail alignment will be identified and secured by the end of 2008 with construction beginning in 2009. Jeffery noted along the Poudre River Trail they would like to create an adequate buffer zone between the trail and riparian areas to protect vital habitats (ex. Bald Eagle). The ideal route will provide great views and have less noise from traffic, providing a positive user experience, accommodating a variety of users and preserving the natural features/resources of the area.



·  Colorado Tax Credit Program:

Jim White moved to authorize an allocation of up to $10,000 from the Acquisition and Development fund to support continuation of the Tax Credit Program, which is of great benefit to Larimer County. Bob seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

·  Poudre River Trail:  Engineering design of SH 392 trail underpass – Town of Windsor requested Larimer County split the required match for the CDOT engineering design grant with the Town of Windsor.  See enclosure. Melissa Chew, Director Parks and Recreation and John Effinger, Civil Engineer

Melissa explained the City of Windsor was awarded a $120,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to develop an engineering design of SH 392 trail underpass. A 20% match is required. The Town of Windsor has committed $15,000 towards the match and is asking area partners to also dedicate funds.

John shared photos of the present trail, where it ends and a map showing the trail location. He noted approximately 16,000 vehicles per day drive this section of SH 392 where the trail presently ends and will eventually need to cross. John stated sufficient cover exists for a 10 foot high tunnel. A tunnel crossing is preferred for public safety and mitigating impacts to the riparian habitat associated with an “at grade” crossing (i.e. longer ramp for ADA requirements). John added an environmental analysis will be conducted to meet CDOT and Federal standards per grant requirement. Bob motioned to allocate $15,000 towards the match stipulating we are not committing to build the underpass. Don seconded and the motion carried unanimously.


·  Platte River Power Authority requests an easement for an underground power transmission line. See enclosure. This action item was not discussed; a final recommendation for the transmission line was made by the Advisory Board in May.

·  Romans Conservation Easement: City of Fort Collins requests acceptance of a conservation easement on the Romans property which received funding from GOCO and is a part of Soapstone Prairie Natural Area.  See enclosure.

K-Lynn explained the significance of the Roman Conservation Easement to the City of Fort Collins and in the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains Project. The south end of the Romans CE was acquired with GOCO dollars; therefore a third party must hold the CE. It does not cost the County anything to hold a CE, other than once a year when an employee will have to conduct a site visit to monitor the property. Sue moved to recommend the County hold the Romans Conservation Easement, Bob seconded and the motion carried unanimously.



Gary noted he and Charlie have sold three Big Thompson parcels. Additionally, they are looking at the feasibility of retaining several Big Thompson parcels, opening them to the public for day-use and fishing access. Once staff conducts a feasibility assessment the Parks Advisory Board and BOCC will have to approve the action.


EXECUTIVE SESSION: (24-6-402(4) (a) C.R.S. Purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any real or personal property interest.  Ted moved to go in to Executive Session at 7:43 pm, Bill seconded and the motion carried unanimously.


The meeting was adjourned by a motion from Ted.  The motion was seconded by Brain and carried unanimously.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:16 pm