Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Bison Visitor Center, 1800 South 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.


Parks Advisory Board Members:

Linda Knowlton, Chair

Rob Harris

Frank Cada

Tom Miller

Dave Coulson

Rich Harter

Russell Fruits

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair




Gary Buffington

Sue Burke

Mark Caughlan

K-Lynn Cameron

Dan Rieves

Lori Smith

Debra Wykoff

Sue Sparling, OLAB liaison




Randy Eubanks, County Commissioner

Ivan Andrade

Chad LaChance



The July 8, 2008, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton at 5:35 p.m.  The minutes of the June 10, 2008, meeting were approved.


Linda welcomed new Board member, Mark De Gregorio.  Mark is the Education Program Manager for Rocky Mountain National Park.  He has previously served on the Open Lands Advisory Board; and has also served on the Board of Directors of the Legacy Land Trust and the Larimer County Environmental Advisory Board.  Mark was on the Open Lands Advisory Board during the discussions about forming the Parks Advisory Board.





§  Update on Hermit Park Open Space.

  • Hermit Park Open Space Inaugural Year Celebration tentative date – Saturday, September 13, 2008.  (Linda suggested that PAB members carpool.)
  • USFS Kruger Rock trail special use permit has been signed.  Work has begun on the trail, in hopes of opening it by the September celebration.
  • GOCO grant for Camp Area 2 – Thanks to Kerri Rollins’ hard work, we have been awarded a $100,000 grant for the Camp Area 2, which will be open next year.
  • Camping reservations began slowly, but this is apparently normal in the Estes area until the July 4th weekend.  The past couple weekends have been full. 

§  All 15 cabins and about 50 campsites are now available.

§  OLAB and PAB comments on the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) Environmental Impact Statement (See enclosures.)

§  Interviews for a new OLAB member to replace term limited Peter Kast were held on June 13.  BOCC were to make a final decision on June 24.  Trudy Haines was appointed.  She was an HP employee.

§  The annual picnic for the Open Lands and Parks boards was June 14.

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

§  Park Managers, Mark Caughlan and Dan Rieves, reported lower use at the reservoirs on day use until the last 2 weeks.  They attribute this to a late spring.  Water temps were a month behind schedule.  The past two years were in the 90’s as early as May.  Typically Fathers Day is the busiest day of the year; but not this year.


BOARD COMMENT: Items not on the agenda

Tom Miller:  He was overwhelmed by the volume of budget information presented.  He can’t deal with that much information.

Rich Harter:  He understands Tom’s point, but thinks it is a due diligence obligation of the Board.  You don’t have to remember it all – just keep it on file for reference.

Linda Knowlton:  She also finds it difficult to comprehend or retain it all; but can always refer back to the handouts provided.

Deb Wykoff:  We were trying to bring the Board up to speed on the overall budget and financial system of the department – that level of detail should not be expected in the future!  The most important point to remember is that our funding is complicated, with many limitations on how each source of funding may be used.  There are very concrete reasons why we spend our money how and where we do.





Staff Recommendation:  Classification of scuba companies as short-term concessions

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.  All current scuba companies were notified by letter and were provided a copy of our short-term concession license.  No comments about the proposed change were received


Park Manager, Mark Caughlan, explained that any kind of outside activity which makes a profit in our park is treated as a concessionaire, required to pay fees.  Long term concessions such as the marina operations pay 5% of gross revenues generated at the reservoir per year; and short term concessions pay 7.5%.  Short-term concessions are year-to-year, small operations without permanent facilities at the reservoirs.  


However, scuba companies have been treated differently.  They have paid a flat rate of $50 per year.  In an effort to make our policies more consistent, staff proposes to treat scuba companies the same as all other concessions.  To obtain a diving certification, it is necessary to do an open water dive; and a portion of the fee which scuba companies charge to their clients covers the open water dive, which is often done at our reservoirs.  The fee will be assessed only on total open water dive fees for dives at our reservoirs.  


§  Colorado has a high percentage of certified divers nationwide.  There are currently 8 to 10 companies using our reservoirs for open water dives, and 50 to 60 divers per year are certified at our reservoirs.  Divers and scuba companies must check in and check out at the entrance station.  It would be tough to avoid this requirement.

Dive Rescue was established in Larimer County.  Dive Rescue contributions by the department are not related to scuba company revenues.


Mark hopes when the Sunrise group use area and swim beach is developed that diving features might be incorporated, such as sunken objects to create more interesting dives.


Board comments:

§  If any diving features are added, the risk of liability goes up.  In that event, companies should be required to indemnify the County.

§  Concern expressed about taking action and then having the scuba companies object, even though they were advised.

Tom Miller made, and Rob Harris seconded, a motion that the staff recommendation be accepted, 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.  Motion passed.









Staff Recommendation:  Big Thompson Canyon parcel in Waltonia.

Staff recommends that a parcel located in Waltonia, on the north fork of the Big Thompson River, which was viewed by the Parks Advisory Board during the Big Thompson field trip, be offered for sale to two adjoining property owners. 


Gary briefly reviewed the history of this parcel, which was toured by the Board in May.  This parcel has no river access.  There are 2 encroachments:  one neighbor’s sewage system; and also on the other side from the other neighbor.  The original house was lost in the flood.  The prior owners have not been located, despite efforts to do so.  The adjoining neighbors have reached an agreement on dividing the property between them.  There is a private road between the property and the river.  It has not been surveyed, so there is no guarantee that it does not reach the river.


Public comment:

§  Larry Rogstad, Division of Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager for southern Larimer County, southern Weld County and Boulder County:  He expressed his interest in working with the Department.  He and Gary toured the Big Thompson properties recently in the lower Canyon.


Board comments:

§  It is not easy to get to this property – can’t imagine it ever being useful for public access.

§  What is the purchase price?  ($9,000 more or less.)

§  The riverbank is so steep, that river access is not practical at this point.


Chair, Linda Knowlton explained that the 60 day public notice period will not be used because this parcel has already been advertised for a long time.  Gary Buffington confirmed that this is the only parcel which will not be subject to the 60 day public comment period.

Rob Harris made, and Barry Lewis seconded, a motion that the Board support the sale of the Waltonia parcel to the adjoining property owners, as recommended by staff.  Motion passed.







Open Lands Long Term Management Cash Flow – Presentation by Lori Smith, Sr. Accountant

Lori presented the 5x5 annual financial report format (just 3 of 37 pages.)  Several members expressed appreciation for this level of detail.  Others expressed interest in seeing more detail on the Parks Fund.


Lori then gave a PowerPoint presentation about the Long Term Management Fund of the Open Lands sales tax.  These are the funds used for ongoing operations, through 2018, when the tax expires.  This tax represents 30% of the total sales tax revenues over the life of the tax.  In 2008, actual costs exceeded 30% for the first time. 


Board comments:

§  No operations subsidy is included after this year at Hermit Park.  This seems too optimistic.  Maintenance costs may exceed current estimates.  (Gary:  He is hopeful that Hermit Park will come close to breaking even after revenue potential from special events, weddings, etc., is developed.)

§  What happens if revenues do not cover operating expense?  (Gary:  Excess operating costs will be split 50/50 between Open Space Sales Tax and Lottery for 2008.)



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

§  Day use is down; camping and cabin reservations are normal.  Dan thinks gas prices may be affecting how long people stay out on the water with their boats.

§  It was really busy at the reservoirs on July 4. 

§  Carter Lake Marina:  Punchlist walk-through on the Marina store and building occurred today and went well.  There will be an open house on July 17, 8 am to noon, for staff, boards, and others involved in the project. The marina operator will begin moving into the building on July 17.

§  Repeated testing of samples from Carter Lake have found no evidence of zebra mussels.  The current focus is on outreach and education through signage, literature, and visitor contact.  We are not currently under any mandated requirements.  We have the authority to inspect, quarantine and decontaminate suspect vessels.  The public has been very receptive to control efforts.  We are not doing reactionary management. 

§  The Bureau of Reclamation and Northern Water have control of the situation.  The Bureau recognizes the political and practical limitations.  Northern Water would prefer no boating on any northern Colorado reservoir; but recognizes that this is not a realistic solution on these reservoirs.

§  Efforts at Pueblo Reservoir to control or prevent zebra mussels has been very expensive and labor intensive, with limited effect. 

§  Back country restrooms on the west side of Horsetooth are boat-in restrooms, which have been well-received, and help control sanitation.

§  Camper Services buildings at Horsetooth should go out to bid in the next 2 weeks.

§  Construction on South Bay campground improvements will begin in October. 


DIRECTOR’S REPORT: Monthly update to the Board – Gary Buffington – 5 min.

§  Gary shared a thank you note for our rangers; Dan noted that ‘thank-you’ comments have increased.

§  The sign for Hermit Park quote came in at $18,000.  So we won’t be doing an entrance sign; instead we’ll do an information kiosk, paid for by the Friends’ fund raising.  We’ll keep the existing entrance sign.

§  Regional Park Fees:  Since 2000, $1,357,000 have been spent on open space acquisitions.  Future revenues from this source are projected at $75,000 per year from a shrinking area, as cities in the County expand their urban growth areas.

§  Gary referenced the attached document, Board Action Taken in 2008, and thanked the Board for their hard work and complimented them on decisions taken.



Linda Knowlton reminded the Board that the County Commissioners’ public hearing on the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) will be tomorrow.




Next regular meeting: August 12, 2008, at the Bison Visitor Center, 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO


Respectfully submitted,


Debra Wykoff