Tuesday, July 14, 2009 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Bison Visitor Center , 1800 SCR 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                                                                                  Frank Gillespie

Barry Lewis, Vice Chair                                                                                 Tom Miller

Frank Cada                                                                                                      Forrest Orswell

Dave Coulson                                                                                                  Vickie Traxler                                                                                      



Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director

Mark Caughlan, Resource Manager

Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager

Debra Wykoff, Business Operations Manager

David Lindsey, Park Ranger



K-Lynn Cameron

Family of David Lindsey



Chad LaChance

Mark DeGregorio

Russell Fruits          




The July 14, 2009, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton, at 5:40 p.m.  The minutes of the May 12, 2009, meeting were approved.  (There was no meeting in June, 2009.)


PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda - NONE



  • Horsetooth Park Manager Mark Caughlan recognized seasonal ranger, David Lindsey, for his heroism in saving the life of a suicidal woman at Horsetooth Reservoir.  David was presented with a framed commendation from the Larimer County Commissioners.

  • The Board welcomes new member, Vickie Traxler.  She is recently retired from her career as an environmental planner with the State of California; she was previously a water quality planner with the State of Idaho. 
  • Tom Miller noted that several members won’t be present for the August meeting.
  • The 2008 Natural Resources Annual Report is out and available for distribution.  Let us know if you need extras to distribute.
  • Sam Waldo, long time employee of the department has now retired at the young age of 83!  She will still be catering Parks Advisory Board dinners with her grandniece and nephew.
  • Jill Ozarski, Executive Director of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts is resigning and John Swartout, former GOCO Director will act as interim Executive Director. 
  • On May 19 and 20, the City of Fort Collins sponsored a cultural sensitivity training for Soapstone and Red Mountain for volunteers and staff prior to the opening of these two open spaces.  Approx. 150 people attended. 

§   On May 28, a sneak preview of Red Mountain for staff and media was held.  Colorado Getaways (Channel 4) filmed a spot for that program.  They intend to air it again on 7/18/09, 6:30 p.m.
See   http://cbs4denver.com/video/?id=58392@kcnc.dayport.com

  • The Lieutenant Governor visited Larimer County on June 11, to promote the Children in the Outdoors concept at the Mountain View High School in Loveland.  Larimer County and the Children & Nature Connection hosted.
  • Open Lands Advisory Board liaison to the Parks Advisory Board, Sue Sparling, is leaving OLAB and a replacement will be designated.

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

§   Parks Advisory Board did not meet in June; the July OLAB meeting is canceled.



Whole Measures:  Healthy People, Healthy Land, Healthy Communities – K-Lynn Cameron

K-Lynn Cameron, recently retired from her position as Open Lands Manager with Larimer County Natural Resources, introduced the Whole Measures program to the Board, and facilitated a discussion of several practices related to: “Relationships between Land & People.”  The Larimer County Commissioners have decided to use this program to assist the community in evaluating the uses of the Open Space Sales Tax revenues since its inception in 1996; and also to identify the needs and desires of the community for the future, in preparation for extension of the open space sales tax.  The County Commissioners appointed the Parks and the Open Lands Advisory Boards to participate in this program, along with Natural Resources staff, the Commissioners, and others.

The big questions typically asked of open space programs are:  How much land have you protected; and how much money was raised to acquire it?  Larimer County has protected over 40,000 acres, and has benefited from millions in matches from numerous partners.  But this does not address the issue of how people are affected by and interacting with these parks and open spaces.

Peter Forbes, founder of the Center for Whole Communities, developed this concept. The Whole Measures handbook distributed by K-Lynn to the Board members will lead the Board through six groups of practices, as an evaluation tool for identifying the needs and wants of Larimer County citizens for the next sales tax. The management staff of the department and the Commissioners are also participating in this process.  In September, Peter Forbes will be in Larimer County for a half day workshop which Board representatives will be asked to attend.  The Open Lands Program paid to print these booklets and is paying $1000 to Peter Forbes for the workshop.

§   Relationships between Land & People

Practice:  Increasing Direct Access to Land 

K-Lynn asked each Board member to rate where our parks and open space programs are now, and where members would like it to be in the future.  Board members are asked to look at each practice as a member of the Parks Advisory Board, rather than their personal perspective, or that of specific population groups.  Board discussion followed, with K-Lynn capturing the gist of their comments on a flip-chart.

§   Dave Coulson:  There tends to be a ‘disconnect’ in the belief that humans must be kept off the land to preserve it – we forget that humans are part of the natural world.  He believes that neither government or private ownership have the right to deny access to the land to anyone.  The land should belong to all the people.  The most desirable state would be full, unlimited access by humans to all land.

§   Barry Lewis:  The County should focus on offering more recreation opportunities – not on acquiring more land, because we can’t afford to keep expanding.

§   Frank Gillespie:  In Germany, you can walk all over the land on public paths.  However, somebody must take care of the trails, or they will deteriorate until they are unusable.  E.g., Homestead Meadows – the USFS can’t afford to maintain it and it is deteriorating badly in spots. 

§   Forrest Orswell:  Stewardship suffers as a result of direct access by humans.  We need to increase stewardship of what we have.

§   Vickie Traxler:  She is concerned about the lack of connection which young people have to the land; we need to encourage and strengthen this connection.

§   Tom Miller:  We are currently in negative territory, moving toward neutral.  The larger the population, the more the need for access to nature.  We need to provide access, but must look at significant acquisitions – not political acquisitions that do not benefit the public.  We may now be close to having maxed out the significant acquisitions.  Once we reach that point, we must shift focus to taking care of it. 

§   Frank Cada:  Right now we don’t have farms or gardens where we can take kids out to experience that.  We are confined to public land.  Has Larimer County provided additional access to lands previously not open to public?  Or was all this land already in public ownership?  He thinks we have made improvements.  It is really important for people to be able to see working farms, farm animals, historical sites, etc.

Practice:  Providing Learning and Inspiration   

Practice:  Respecting Long-Term Relationships to Land

§   Linda Knowlton:  She really likes the idea of providing lands which will be there for multiple generations to experience sequentially and together.  She is inspired by the vision of 3 generations sharing an experience.

§   Frank Gillespie:  Unfortunately, this is not realistic.  The transitory character of our population makes it unlikely that multiple generations will continue to share a relationship to the same land.  Even the Amish, who have long connection to their land, are migrating to new areas, thus losing that connection.

§   Frank Cada:  He and his wife bought their land in the 1960’s, and now their kids and grandkids also love coming there.  They do not live on the land, but they love to visit. 

§   Forrest Orswell:  Using conservation easements to save people’s farms is an example of this.  Should it be a goal of the County to use public funds to keep people on their farms?  What about public access to private lands which are in conservation easements – what is the County’s responsibility in this regard?

§   Barry Lewis:  Does this mean people staying on land that has been in their family for generations?  Or public land to which people may have access over generations?

§   Frank Gillespie:  He feels saddened by the discussion of this practice.  In the northeastern US, all the family farms are gone and all the farmland is now subdivisions.  It’s no longer profitable to have a farm or ranch.  It seems unrealistic that we could ever achieve these ideals.  Unless it’s a museum piece – these are interpreters of history, not real farms.  It’s cultural – our transitory society.

§   Frank Cada: The Department has met several of the criteria for how people connect to the land:  Recreation, spirituality (on trails without ATV’s), and inspiration when hiking.

§   Dave Coulson:  We can’t have generational connections until there is a community of people who have a shared connection over years.  It requires continuity of the community, which doesn’t happen much.  To achieve this, we must go way beyond parks – it’s a community project – developing a sense of community because people want to stay here their whole lives.  People must have a sense of belonging. 

§   Barry Lewis:  We are preserving public land in perpetuity, which is one requirement to achieving this.

§   Tom Miller:  Two hundred years ago, Europeans didn’t know this country was out here.  Subdividing the land is promoted by our society.  Land ethics which promote destruction of the land are typical of this country.

§   Vickie Traxler:  We should focus on encouraging younger generations to improve their connection to the land – and their access to recreation and resources – by providing learning opportunities.  Preserving lands in perpetuity is one valuable step we are taking.

§   Forrest Orswell:  We’re doing well at preserving public lands to ensure that future generations have access.  But he is not sure it is a smart way to spend County money, to use it to keep people on their private land.

§   Barry Lewis:  Our job is to represent the average County resident – does the average resident know about all the resources that are available and have been preserved? 

§   Frank Gillespie:  This community is a lot more effective than many in encouraging the public to use recreation resources.

§   Dan Rieves:  The people who don’t hear about our programs aren’t plugged in, so don’t know about it.

K-Lynn asked all Board members to finish this practice, and then go to the next practice.  Do them in the order listed below.  Bring your comments to the next meeting, or email them to Kerri Rollins at rollinkl@co.larimer.co.us. Keeping going. At the next meeting, a County facilitator will be present. 

§   People and Land

§   Healthy Ecosystems – will be discussed at the August meeting.

§   Community Building

§   Healthy Habitat for People

§   Stewardship

§   Economic Vitality

§   Justice and Fairness


The goal is to develop a group snapshot of how we’re doing, and what we need to do in the future.  The compiled results will then be shared with the public and tested to see how accurate our perceptions are.  The results will go to Peter Forbes, for the September workshop.  The Board is not expected to finish the entire workbook by September; this will be an ongoing discussion over the next several months.


Open Space Sales Tax Review – Gary Buffington, Director

Gary is cross-pollinating the boards by sharing ideas, concepts, and budget information. The Open Lands Advisory Board has heard a summary of Parks program budgets.  This is a summary of funding and budgets of the Open Lands Program and the open space sales tax.  Gary distributed the sales tax initiative and a summary of how the funds have been spent since 1996, as well as a pie chart illustrating allowable uses of the sales tax. 

The Boards must evaluate the needs and priorities of the County in determining how the next sales tax should look.  There are many needs to be met.  We must also compete with numerous other funding needs within the County – the Justice Center funding will be a major priority for the County.  We need to know how the Commissioners rank parks and open space as compared to other funding needs.

§   Linda Knowlton:  Educating the public is critical.  How much land is realistically going to be available for acquisition in the future?  Long term management costs must also be addressed.  The public must be educated.  Maybe the next tax will need to focus on long term management, more than continued acquisitions.

§   Tom Miller:  The Friends group was intended to promote support for the department and to build a constituency. 

§   Frank Gillespie:  What is the plan for educating the public? 

§   Dan Rieves:  Demographics have changed a lot since 1996 – we need that data.  And we need to sell what we have accomplished with the current tax.

§   Gary:  User fees are another issue which must be addressed.  Most of our public open space areas currently are free to the public; will we be able to continue that into the future?

§   Deb Wykoff:  For 20 years, the parks program has struggled with inadequate funding.  The next sales tax must provide funding for taking care of what we have and addressing long term management costs for the entire department – our parks as well as our open spaces.  Our focus must not be limited to additional acquisition and development of open space.

§   Dan Rieves:  World class parks around the country are free to the public – these facilities have a secure long-term funding source.  That should be our goal as well – to secure the future of our parks and open spaces.

§   Tom Miller:  If we start talking about increasing fees, we will lose public support.  It costs money to run parks.  There is always support and funding for buying new parks; but no money for management.



Election of Officers for Parks Advisory Board, 2009-10

§  Chair Linda Knowlton encouraged the Board to vote for new officers, to promote the continued vitality of the Board.  She briefly reviewed the primary responsibilities of the Chair before calling for nominations.  As Chair, she sometimes meets with Gary in advance to set the agenda and discuss items coming up.  The Chair must be present for meetings; familiarity with parliamentary procedure is key; keeping the meeting moving; reading and correcting the minutes before they are posted; managing public comment; speaking carefully to the media when required; representing the Board when needed in other public venues.

§  Director Gary Buffington expressed his appreciation for the strong leadership which Linda has provided to the Board during the first 18 months of its existence.  These sentiments were echoed by Board members.

§  Frank Cada nominated Barry Lewis as Chair.  Barry stated that he would prefer to remain as Vice-Chair, due to other demands on his time, including his children. 

§  Frank Gillespie nominated Dave Coulson as Chair. 

§  Dave Coulson was elected as Chair and Barry Lewis was re-elected as Vice-Chair, both by acclamation, there being no other nominations.









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

§  Staff is working with neighbors of Big Thompson parcels, who are bringing maintenance needs to our attention.

§  Red Mountain Open Space is now open, and the parking lot is often full.  Visitation has exceeded expectations, due to high public awareness.

§  Zebra mussel inspection program is up and running and working well.  Funding is finally coming through from the Division of Wildlife.

§  Storm water audits are being performed.

§  Mid-year performance evaluations of seasonal employees are also underway.

§  Hermit Park Campground 2 (now named Bobcat Campground) opened last week.  Hermit Park was sold out last weekend.  The grass is high and wildflowers are going crazy!

§  The Carter Lake Marina store is being run by Dave Buck, hired by the Waldburgers, and is doing very well with the public.  It’s encouraging to watch the public responding positively to the new facilities.  The rangers have moved to offices in the lower level of the marina building. 

§  It has stopped raining, after the second wettest June on record.  Water levels are high, and revenues are bouncing back.

§  There hasn’t been full capacity yet on the reservoirs on weekends, but weekday use is picking up. Water levels are still rising in mid-July.

§  New facilities and hot weather, combined with good water levels should build momentum.

§  Great staff this year – they make it all happen on the ground. 

§  Camper services buildings are hugely popular.  Doing a survey this weekend to find out what people want in the facilities, amenities, etc.

§  New full-service sites at S. Bay are several weeks behind schedule.

§  The new swim beach projects can’t be done until low water – maybe not until next year.



Big Thompson Land Sales – Status report – Gary Buffington, Director

§   Charlie Johnson has been staking the fence line we committed to install.  He will solicit contract offers for the work and bring them back to the board.  He is also working with the church and adjoining landowners on those parcels.



      Estes Valley Campgrounds – Gary Buffington and Dan Rieves

The draft contract wasn’t ready for review, because some significant changes were made in the last round.  It will be available for the August meeting.

§   Gary and Stan Gengler met with the Estes Park Planning Dept. and the Wastewater Dept., to be sure we can open the campgrounds without making any improvements.  These commitments were secured.  They recommended that we plan for the first two years to operate at status quo, and then begin making the improvements.

§   Dan addressed Mark DeGregorio’s questions, which Dan noted reflect “the Hermit Park Effect:”  What will it cost to open the facilities?

§   The initial cost will be limited to getting the campgrounds onto our County system (reservation system, permits, maps, brochures, etc.)  The real costs are not clear, since most of the cost involved will be staff time to get the campgrounds up and running. 

§   We are still negotiating on how to handle the reservations – whether to move to our reservation system, or stay with their current system.

§   $50,000 is earmarked for initial start-up costs.  Additional costs would be paid back from first-year revenues.  Dan commented that, “We’re going to try to make the money before we spend it,” setting aside some for future match on improvements.  Estes Valley Recreation and Park District has approximately $250,000 set aside for ADA improvements.  EVRPD will be responsible in the management agreement for all compliance issues.  We anticipate excess revenues of around $100,000 from the operation of these campgrounds.

§   Frank Gillespie: Will the Estes Park town shuttles will provide transportation from these campgrounds to Hermit Park and other local destinations?

§   Barry Lewis:  What is the worst case scenario?


The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.



      August 11, 2009 :

  • Whole Measures:  August meeting
  • Draft contract:  August


Future meetings:

  • Concession Manual – Final Approval
  • Pine beetle update.
  • Process to evaluate needs in preparation for the renewal of the opens space sales tax.

Next regular meeting: August 11, 2009, Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building.


Respectfully submitted,

Debra Wykoff







Linda Knowlton, Chair