Tuesday, October 14, 2008 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Bison Visitor Center , 1800 S. County Road 31, Loveland, CO 80537


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

Russell Fruits

Ivan Andrade

Rob Harris

Frank Cada

Tom Miller

Mark DeGregorio





Gary Buffington

K-Lynn Cameron

Mark Caughlan

Rob Novak

Dan Rieves

All Park District ranger staff

Debra Wykoff

Travis Rollins


Charles Gindler


Randy Eubanks, County Commissioner

Chad LaChance

Dave Coulson

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair

Rich Harter





The October 14, 2008, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton at 5:35 p.m.  The minutes of the September 9, 2008, meeting were approved.


PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda – NONE


5:40     GENERAL INFORMATION:  (Questions – 5 min.)

  • The Hermit Park Inaugural on September 13 was a beautiful day and a great success.  Thanks to Hermit Park Manager, Chris Fleming, as well as many other staff members, for much hard work putting the event together.
  • The 9th Annual COSA conference was held in Estes Park on September 15 – 17.  The sessions, keynote speakers and field trips were worthwhile.  Thanks to Kerri Rollins, JustinScharton and Windy Kelley for their work on this event.  Bill Newman (OLAB), Jean Carpenter (OLAB), Sue Sparling (OLAB) and Mark DeGregorio (PAB) all attended portions of the conference.
  • The Northern Colorado Birding Fair at Fossil Creek Regional Open Space on September 27, 2008, was again well-attended by an enthusiastic crowd of over 500.  Thanks to Education Coordinator, Rob Novak; Fossil Creek Manager, Travis Rollins; and many other staff for putting on another great event!

§   November 12-14, 2008 :  Peter Forbes of the Center for Whole Communities will be conducting a Whole Measures Work Shop at the Primrose Studio.  A diverse group of 25 will explore the question of how open space can better respond to community needs.  Gary, K-Lynn Cameron, Kerri Rollins, and OLAB Chair, Nancy Wallace, will be attending. 

§   Volunteer Program Strategic Plan – Linda Knowlton and Tom Miller will serve on the project team for the new Volunteer Program Strategic Plan.  The first meeting was a facilitated session on November 6.

  • Applications are available now for the Small Grants Program and are due Friday, November 21, 2008.  Grants will be awarded in March/April 2009.  Grant selection criteria, application, and other information about the Small Grants Program can be found on the County website at: http://www.larimer.org/parks/openlands/smallgrants.htm.  Grant applicants are encouraged to read through the selection criteria and to contact the Small Grants Coordinator, Sue Burke, if they have questions.

§  The annual Parks Advisory Board Appreciation event will be on December 17, for the Eagles vs. Oklahoma City Blazers hockey game.  The County suite will accommodate only 16 people.  After all Board members have RSVPed, we’ll decide whether guests may attend.


Policy to guide the level of facility development on open space areas: Update to planning process – Open Lands Program Manager, K-Lynn Cameron.

§  The department developed several specific processes to be accountable to the public for open space funding, one of which is the Management Planning Process, adopted in 2001.  K-Lynn reviewed the steps in that process.  (See flowchart.)

§  The change now proposed is to expand our evaluation to include information on infrastructure such as proximity to water, sewer, power, etc., and projected development costs.

§  The second proposed change requires more specifically addressing the level of service, facility, and infrastructure development which is appropriate at a particular area. 

Board comment:

§  Many properties now being developed are close to town, where expectations are much higher for the level of service that will be provided. 

§  It is important to document the original purpose of the acquisition.  In the future, people may want a higher level of service, but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate.

§  Do we have a portfolio of different type of opportunities which we want to provide, and for which we acquire specific properties, or are our acquisitions more opportunistic re whatever comes up?  (Combination of both.)  What about Hermit Park?  (It was an unforeseen opportunity.)

§  When the public becomes involved in the process, what they want may differ from the desired uses and values identified during the acquisition scoping process.

§  Continuity of service between areas may demand a certain level of service – e.g., City of Ft. Collins trail standards when our trail joins with theirs.



Draft Educational Plan for Natural Resources – Rob Novak, Education Program Coordinator

There were no comments from the Board on the final draft of the plan. 

Frank Cada made, and Rob Harris seconded, a motion that the Educational Plan for Natural Resources be recommended for adoption.  The motion passed.





November meeting date – Gary Buffington

  • The November meeting date of this Board falls on November 11, when Larimer County offices are closed in observance of Veterans’ Day. 
  • The meeting date will be moved to November 18. 
  • There will be public participation at that meeting, so the date change must be publicized. 
  • Space is not available at the Courthouse due to tax sales, so the November meeting will be at the Bison Visitor Center.


Ranger Program overview – Presented by Park Managers Dan Rieves and Mark Caughlan, and ranger staff Dillon Kirby, Cindy Claggett, Christine Fleming, Travis Rollins, Matt Kuehl, Steve Gibson, Jim Hawkins, Will Talbott, Vic Wilcox, and Charlie Gindler.  Each ranger introduced themselves with a brief synopsis of their training and experience.


Introduction – Dan Rieves

  • The reason the department has a ranger program is to preserve and protect the natural resources entrusted to the department.  Program priorities include safety, resource protection, visitor resource, regulation enforcement and program administration.  The manager’s number one responsibility is to provide the training staff needs to be safe in the job. 
  • We have high expectations of our officers.  This is a team-driven organization. 
  • The job doesn’t pay highly, but “you take your pay in sunsets.”  This is a service-oriented job.  “Stopping in the middle of the road to gaze in awe is not a felony – it’s what we’re here for!”  Rangers are encouraged to learn as much as they can about the natural resources. 
  • Rangering is a way of life, not just a job.  Rangers are trained in many different disciplines.  Their roles include regulation and law enforcement; emergency medical services, search & rescue, wild land fire, collection of fees, visitor management; back country management; reservoir management; education and interpretation; resource stewardship. 
  • Law enforcement is not an end in itself.  If a violator can be brought around by education, the contact has been a success. 
  • Future challenges will include: 

§  Specialization of rangers (ours are generalists, who can fill in anywhere.)

§  Image and mission

§  Funding

§  Greening of the agency – we need to be more conscious of our image and impact

§  Preparing a new generation of leaders

§  Maintaining relevancy (No Child Left Behind…Last Child in the Woods) and

§  Partnerships.

History – Mark Caughlan

  • The history of our ranger program follows the development of the department.
  • Colorado- Big Thompson Water Project construction began in 1938; Horsetooth construction began in 1940.
  • Elton Collins and Tuck Howell started the department.  The Larimer County Recreation Board was established in 1954 – it was a volunteer board without a budget.
  • The reservoirs opened to the public in1954; the first park workers were hired in 1956. 
  • There were no campgrounds, or boat ramps – people could park and camp anywhere.
  • Construction of boat docks and campsites began in the mid-70’s.
  • First full-time ranger was hired in 1988
  • Rangers began writing citations in the 80’s.
  • Title 28 and Lottery funding became available.
  • The Volunteer Program started in 1998.
  • By the 2000’s, there were 14 fulltime rangers and 40 seasonal rangers.


The Ranger Code of Ethics – Read by Blue Mountain Seasonal Ranger, Dillon Kirby


Recruitment and Hiring – Blue Mountain Ranger, Cindy Claggett

  • The department has 2-4 commissioned officers; 20-40 seasonal unarmed rangers who enforce only park regulations; 11 full-time commissioned officers; and 3 full time unarmed rangers. 
  • Work assignments and locations change with the seasons.  Our rangers share combined natural resource experience of over 100 years.  All of our fulltime rangers began in seasonal positions and moved up through the ranks.
  • Over the past few years, we have been converting seasonal staffing budgets to regular, fulltime, permanent staffing.  This means a reduction in seasonal positions. 
  • The department recruits heavily from CSU at career fairs, working closely with the Dept. of Natural Resources at CSU on internships.  We also recruit key people from among our seasonal staff.  The competition is keen, given the large number of park agencies in the state.  Seasonal positions provide a stepping stone to many types of careers in EMS, firefighting, rangering, medical, etc. 
  • The educational pendulum has shifted over the past 20 years – as the ‘boomers’ retire, many opportunities are becoming available for a much smaller pool of applicants.
  • Field Training Officer (FTO) training follows in the field, and lasts from 2 weeks to 2 months.  There are 4 phases from observing to handling situations independently.


Training, Education and Certification – Hermit Park Manager, Chris Fleming

  • Chris reviewed training, education and certification requirements for fulltime rangers and commissioned officers. 
  • Additional training available to staff includes DUI/BUI enforcement; ice rescue; red card; EMT; boat academy; boat accident investigation; verbal judo; etc.  The latter is the skill of handling situations by de-escalating through talking. 
  • Board members expressed interest in attending the Verbal Judo training (“Tongue-Fu”) 
  • We have in-house instructors in several specialties.


The Ranger Corp Concept – Blue Mountain Open Space Manager, Travis Rollins

  • All rangers train as a team, whatever their specific assignments. 
  • Professionalism, Unity and Image are emphasized as key values for the program.


Diversity of Activities & Challenges – Horsetooth Ranger, Matt Kuehl

§   Situations faced by rangers in our park areas run the gamut from assisting visitors, to making arrests and high risk stops, to talking to fisherman, to fixing fence and moving cattle on open space areas.


Methods of Patrol – Blue Mountain Open Space Ranger, Steve Gibson

  • Methods of patrol include trucks, boats, bikes, horses and on foot. 
  • The department’s objective is to be identifiable to the public as county rangers, and to be known for our professionalism. 
  • Our program uses the strengths of each person on the team, e.g., boating skill, mountain biking, emergency services, etc.
  • Acquisition of new park or open space areas does not necessarily result in a staffing increase.


Partnerships – Blue Mountain Open Space Ranger, Jacob Wells

  • The department is involved in many partnerships, from joint trainings, to tree plantings with volunteers, controlled burns, the Colorado Open Space Alliance, etc. 


Boat Patrol and Boating Safety Programs – Blue Mountain Ranger, Jim Hawkins

  • The primary areas of concentration include:

§   Distributing information to the public,

§   Public education through safety fairs, individual contacts and safety inspections on the boat ramps;

§   Enforcement of BUI statutes and safety regulations.

  • In addition, boat rangers are trained to handle accidents, rescues and fatalities. 
  • The goal of our program is to become the first agency to achieve a zero boat accident rate on our reservoirs.  We’ve come close (only one accident in one year)
  • Boat rangers work shifts from 8 am to midnight.


Field Operations and Statistics – Horsetooth Ranger, Will Talbott

  • In the past year, our rangers have issued 1,249 citations for violations of park regulations, based on 2.5 million visitor days.  These included 95 citations for possession of drugs; 77 minors in possession; 132 fishing license violations; 94 swimming in on-designated areas or cliff diving; 133 for safety equipment violations; 41 for children without PFD’s; 35 for waterskiing without an observer; 24 for pets off-leash;.
  • For the past year, rangers also issued 3319 windshield tickets, mostly for no park permit.  This is a $20 fee.
  • Commissioned officers have a 2008 case load of 66 cases involving crimes and offenses, including no driver’s license, domestic violence, 8 DUI and 4 BUI.  The latter two are down, which we hope represents the impact of education and enforcement.  There is a long list of other offenses which have been encountered.

Emergency Services – Blue Mountain Ranger, Vic Wilcox

  • Our rangers are often the first responder to medical situations in our park areas. 
  • All rangers have basic first aid and CPR training.  All full-time rangers are First Responders. 
  • We also have several career EMT’s and firefighters on staff. 
  • Our rangers also may respond to traffic accidents in the general area. 
  • Seasonal rangers are trained every year in helicopter response.
  • Visitors’ expectations of rangers in medical situations is high – rangers are expected to effectively help them. 
  • During the 2008 season, we responded to numerous medical calls, including trauma, heart attacks, etc. 
  • Within the past few weeks, rangers have responded to a child bitten by a rabid bat, a fatal heart attack, and a car accident.  Another unusual situation involved a helicopter crash during a forest fire.
  • TVAS has generously provided much of the medical equipment used in our parks.


The Ranger Legacy – Laramie Foothills Open Space Manager, Charlie Gindler

  • The first national park rangers rode out into the wilderness 100 years ago – they were strong characters, and their job involved every aspect of land stewardship. Over time, the skills and abilities required of a ranger have continued to increase and expand. 
  • Some of the more unique aspects of our ranger program include:

§   Managing agricultural leases for grazing and farming,

§   Working with ranchers,

§   Construction of range facilities like spring development,

§   Fencing to control livestock,

§   Administering hunting leases,

§   Monitoring and collecting data for CSU and CDOW for wildlife, fisheries, geology, paleontology and forestry. 

§   Stream bed restoration and erosion control projects and reseeding,

§   Conservation easement monitoring.

§   Weddings,

§   School tours,

§   Research projects,

§   Interpretative programs like eagle watching and CSI - Critter Scene Investigations.

  • Other duties of the modern ranger include:

§  Weed control,

§  trail maintenance,

§  mapping,

§  brochures,

§  management plan development,

§  public outreach at festivals

  • Dangers encountered by rangers include rattlesnakes, tornadoes, floods, heat, cold, hostile visitors and injuries far from help.
  • Ranger staff  represent a wide range of experience and strengths.  A few examples:

  • Seasonal Ranger Dillon Kirby, a local boy who returned after his military service, talked about his experience first as an unarmed seasonal ranger, then as a certified law enforcement ranger for the department. 
  • Chris Fleming, Hermit Park Manager, was formerly the Sr. Ranger for the Blue Mtn. District.  She is responsible for the seasonal training program which involves 60 hours of classroom and interactive training, with 20 instructors from more than 10 agencies, covering 32 topics. 
  • Steve Gibson did two tours in the Persian Gulf with the Navy before going to CSU.  While there, he worked construction, fought fires, worked as a seasonal ranger.  This agency has provided great support and training, which is very important.  Steve was the first ranger for whom the County paid for Police Academy training.  The cost of sending an employee through the Academy totals close to $10,000 ($3000/student plus transportation, equipment, and wages.)  Steve is under contract to the department for a period of years in return for his training.
  • Jim Hawkins is a native of Loveland who worked for the department for six years in seasonal positions.  His degree is from UNC; he also has two years’ experience with local fire departments before joining the department. 
  • Will Talbot, Horsetooth District ranger, had a 20-year career in retail management before becoming a park ranger.  He had always dreamed of being a ranger, so he finished his degree at CSU and worked seasonally and completed police academy. 


  • Vic Wilcox has been with the department for 12 years, following many years as a career firefighter.  Vic has been an EMT for 30 years. 
  • Charlie Gindler, Laramie Foothills Open Space Manager, manages 15,000 acres in the north county.  Charlie grew up on a ranch on Horsetooth Reservoir, and worked for several Federal agencies, all over the west, including Hawaii.  He has been with the department in various positions for 10 years.



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

§  Shower house bids will be going out on October 15.

§  Campsite plans are almost finished; construction should begin by the first of the year.

§  It’s been a busy fall with good weather and high visitation through September and October.

§  Concessionaire inspections and ADA audits with the BOR have been completed.

§  End of season campground closings are underway.

§  Hermit Park visitation continues to increase.

§  Water predictions for next year:  Expected to be higher than recent past at Carter; Granby is almost full, which looks good for our reservoirs next year.

§  Quagga mussels have been found in Granby, but little is known about their lifecycle at high elevation.  More information on the impacts to our reservoirs may be available in the spring.



            Monthly update to the Board – Natural Resources Director, Gary Buffington

§   Gary pointed out the display posters of the departments in the Public Works Division, and the Annual Report, which has just come out.  The annual report is required by the open space sales tax language, but is also a good marketing tool for the department.

§   Gary distributed the current Concession Policy for review.





Dave Buck:  Reported on problems with rangers during the 2008 season:

a)   A ranger spotlighting with flashlight inside a camper’s tent during a 50th birthday party – the park visitor was so offended that she will never return.

b)   At a Sail Club race, when rangers were checking permits on windshields of vehicles parked along the road, the rangers were looking into the back seats and rear of SUVs. 

c)   Should have a provisional permit for people who have other annual permits to bring up a different vehicle to get their boat out of the water without having to pay for another permit – Rangers gave a guy a ticket on a pick-up parked overnight at the boat ramp while he slept on his boat. 

d)   Maintenance concerns about restroom conditions, lack of power, etc.

Board comment:

§   There is a one day permit available to address the need described in “c” above.  This appears sufficient to meet the need. 

§   The boat owner who left his truck overnight would have been covered by the one day permit, which is good until noon the day after it is purchased.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.




§   Implementation update on Hermit Park Management Plan – Chris Fleming, Hermit Park Manager

§   Big Thompson Properties – Proposed plan for Drake area parcels – Charlie Johnson, Land Agent,
Charlie will present the results of the surveys done on these properties, and identify those parcels which are proposed for retention and for sale.

To be scheduled:


Next regular meeting: November 18, 2008, Bison Visitor Center, 1800 SCR 31, Loveland, CO


Respectfully submitted,


Debra Wykoff







Linda Knowlton, Chair