Tuesday, December 8, 2009 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak Street, Fort Collins, Colorado
Parks Advisory Board Members:
Dave Coulson, Chair
Mark De Gregorio
Barry Lewis, Vice Chair
Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director
Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Program Manager
Debra Wykoff, Business Operations Manager
Mark Caughlan, Horsetooth District Manager
Chris Fleming, Blue Mountain District Manager
The, December 8, 2009, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Dave Coulson, at 5:30 p.m. The minutes of the November 10, 2009, meeting were approved.
BOARD MEMBER REPORTS
Public comments on permit pricing structure
Dave Coulson reported that he attended the public hearing on park permit increases for 2010. Two members of the public were there to comment. One comment was that the second vehicle permit ($40) costs more than the first permit for Senior Vehicle Permit ($35.) He also suggested that we should consider discounted use for seniors on weekdays.
Russ Fruits heard a discussion of making the cost of permits or park use more accessible to low income families – maybe a free day, or a low cost park area or something similar.
Gary suggested that these types of permit issues be discussed at a planned time in the year (June for annuals; September for camping)
Carter Lake Marina license
Linda Knowlton thinks the Board made a very serious error last month in approving a 10-year license for the Carter Lake Sail Club, because the RMP and Master Plan both state that our policy is to phase out exclusive uses, and this action is in violation of that policy. Linda stated that this should be brought back for another vote. The impetus to get away from exclusive, private uses is the right thing to do, and is a national trend, as illustrated by Ken Burns’ series on the national parks. She doesn’t want this to become an issue during the sales tax extension.
Gary Buffington assured the board that he will hold off on taking the license to the Commissioners for approval until he hears from Reclamation and from the County Attorney.
Dan Rieves reported that preliminary feedback from Reclamation is that the license would be ok if it reads “five years, renewable for another five years.”
Mark DeGregorio stated that we shouldn’t have a policy on the books if we’re not going to follow it. It can be an embarrassment if someone in the public raises that issue. If it’s a bad policy, get rid of it. But don’t violate it while it is on the books.
motions to change the former action, Dave stated that it will be left to Gary
to consult the County Attorney and make a decision.
PUBLIC COMMENT: None
Events for December. See website http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources.
§ On December 10, the Natural Resources holiday party for all advisory boards will be held from 6pm - 9pm in the Champion Executive Club at The Ranch.
S TANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report –Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager; Chris Fleming, Blue Mountain District Manager; and Mark Caughlan, Horsetooth District Manager.
§ In 2010, there will be limited big game hunting on Red Mountain. The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) big game limited license drawing starts in February and the results will be announced in June. For Red Mountain, applicants will fill out an application with a $10 fee, for up to 3 different permits (bull elk, cow elk, and bucks.) Then the seven winners must also apply for the CDOW license and participate in that drawing. Unit 9 is entirely private land, and has been under-subscribed for the past 10 or 12 years. So anyone who wins our drawing is likely to draw the license from CDOW. There will also be a pre-hunt meeting with our staff to discuss the parameters of the hunt. Thus, the hunter who gets our permit will pay far less than others hunting on private land, where typically very high fees are charged. CDOW wants to see our tag number increase to 20 in the future. Gary noted that CDOW contributed $1 million toward the purchase of Red Mountain; hence their vested interest in hunting on the property.
§ ANS restrictions on boat access since October have resulted in a number of complaints.
§ Chad LaChance: One problem has been that Boyd Lake is allowing boaters to leave their tag in a drop box and go on the lake without inspection. But they can’t do that at our lakes.
§ Dan: Unfortunately, that is prohibited by the state ANS regulations; we hope that will change by next season.
§ Blue Mountain Sr. Ranger position will be advertised soon.
§ There have been problems with frozen pipes at the Hermit Park (HP) office, due to inadequate insulation.
§ 4 of 5 new restrooms are in place at HP.
§ Tomorrow the Reserve America reservation system goes live. The transition process has been very challenging and slow.
§ We are looking at point of sale system options for Hermit Park and the Estes campgrounds for next year.
§ Construction is being planned for the Blue Sky trailhead in the spring.
§ Work has begun on the swim beach projects. Fill will be added to expand picnic facilities, and the slope will be reduced. The South Bay group use facility will be moved to the swim beach.
§ The shower houses generated about $10,000 in revenues this year during the one month that they were open for use.
§ The shower house at Carter Lake Eagle Campground was slated to be a winter project. But a leach field will be required; and finding a suitable site for that is proving difficult due to the rock. There is no electrical to that site, which will also be difficult. Alternate sites are also limited – the entrance to Eagle Campground is a possibility, but not aesthetically pleasing.
§ Utility requirements may make it not feasible to put a shower house at South Shore at Carter Lake.
6:30 DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Big Thompson Public Access – property status.
Charlie Johnson is working on contracts
with the various landowners involved in the Drake area.
Fourth Quarter Department Business Activity
§ Gary shared this list as an example of all the many things on his plate, and being addressed by the department.
6:40 ACTION ITEMS:
Estes Valley Campground Partnership-Final Contract approval and recommendation – Gary Buffington
- Gary reviewed the summary
sheet of the pros and cons. Exit strategies for both parties have been
made more specific. Either party may terminate annually. Both
departments are concerned about covering costs from other operating
budgets. All improvements are required to be funded by revenues generated
on the properties. It could take 2-3 years to generate enough revenue to
fund capital improvements required by their master plan. The Town has
agreed that code violations will not be addressed until work begins on
master plan improvements.
Reclamation has been consulted and is performing inspections on the existing facilities before we assume responsibility. The motivation for the agreement is to serve the public and generate additional revenues in the process. Our agencies are more oriented to public service than a private concessionaire. This is a proactive opportunity to prepare financially for the future.
Dan: Revenues are still projected about the same as previously indicated. Estimated revenue from retail sales has been reduced. Day permit fees were increased from $6 to $7, which increased revenue projections for that. The day permit option has been retained to be consistent with other park areas, to increase the value of the annual pass, and to encourage use of Hermit Park by Estes campground visitors. Departmental literature will be available at the entrance stations to advertise HP. EVRPD recreation facilities (golf course, etc.) will also be advertised.
- Stan Gengler, EVRPD Director, and Mike Richards, EVRPD board member were present to answer questions. Mike noted that there are two families who are losing their livelihoods as a result, but it is still for the best overall. Neighboring property owners are excited about the possibility for future improvements to these campgrounds, with regular patrol. Stan stated that our agencies share similar visions of providing quality, economical, assessable recreation opportunities for all. The strengths of EVRPD are complementary to Larimer County’s. This will be a partnership that benefits both entities. EVRPD is negotiating to purchase the name, website, and mailing lists of the concessionaires. Matching funds in the amount of $250,000 are available for capital improvements.
Board comments with staff response included:
- Mark DeGregorio: What were
the safety issues identified by Reclamation? [Stan: Minor issues, which
have been addressed; a written report has not been received from BOR, due
to staff turnover at Reclamation during this time period.]
- Russ Fruits: What about
marketing? E.g., there is little marketing to rock climbers even though
this is a huge potential market, because of the climbing opportunities
nearby. An ad in an industry magazine would reach up to 100,000 climbers.
[Dan: We use Google key word advertising. Filling these campgrounds is
not a problem. Marketing has not been needed to fill them. If visitation
dips temporarily, that will help accommodate a “soft opening” which will
give us time to work out the kinks.]
- Linda Knowlton: Will
staffing increase? [Some increase, primarily seasonal, has been built
into the budget.]
- Frank Cada: With existing
staff, will we be able to provide the same level of service at these new
areas? If you spread yourself too thin, level of service will suffer. [Dan
and Chris: These areas will not be as management-intensive as our park
areas. The seasonal workforce can be expanded or contracted easily; these
employees can also be moved around with great flexibility. We are hiring
someone to focus on getting these two campgrounds off the ground.
Camphosts and volunteers will also supplement the work force.]
- Mark DeGregorio: Reclamation
is the unknown in this situation. If new leadership comes in which pushes
aggressively for implementation of the Master Plan/RMP, that could be a
lot of money. Also, not addressing code violations gives the County an
unfair advantage over private business. Section VIII of the agreement
requires compliance with all laws, rules and regulations. To deliberately
operate in violation of code is contradictory to this requirement, which
is unwise. For these reasons he will vote against this agreement.
- [Dan: To his knowledge,
the BOR has never dictated any specific improvement, except for ADA
retrofits. He does not foresee that changing at these campgrounds.
Rather, the potential for improvements to be made is increased by this
partnership, where 65% of the revenues are earmarked for master plan
improvements. Gary: The master plan presents the “Cadillac” version of
possible improvements, but actual improvements will be far more practical.]
- Linda: How long will code
violations be ignored? [Until master plan improvements begin.]
- Russ Fruits: Would a
private campground owner be required to comply with code? [Stan:
Definitely, when they put in new improvements. They would not necessarily
be required to comply with code in order to sell/buy an existing business.]
- Frank Gillespie: He has a concern about traffic issues. Will the Town provide shuttle service to these campgrounds? [Stan: The town shuttle bus does go past both campgrounds, with stops there. But this is not in the control of either EVRPD or the County. It is managed by the Town, which can make route changes.]
2010 Regulations – Proposed Changes
explained some of the reasons for regulation changes: Something new arises or
too many exceptions are being made to a regulation, indicating that a change in
policy is needed. For off-season camping, it makes no sense to turn people
away who want to stay longer.
Knowlton: Is there unlimited camping off-season? [Yes.]
Knowlton: What is the reason for the change regarding tying animals to
trees? [This eliminates a redundant provision in the regs. You can tie a
dog to anything but a tree.]
DeGregorio: Can people tie a horse to a tree? [Hasn’t arisen.]
LaChance: Is it permitted to take horses off trail, into the water?
[Yes. Dixon Cove is popular for this use.]
Lewis: Why is it ok for horses to defecate anywhere without any
requirement that riders clean up, even though we make that requirement for
dogs, etc.? He suffered a serious injury on a mountain bike when he slid
on a pile of horse manure. [It is an accepted, historical, traditional
use, although hotly debated by mountain bikers.]
Knowlton: What is the reason for the regulation prohibiting human
urination/defecation – how does that apply to hikers? [It does not apply
to reasonable, responsible acts. It applies primarily to activities in
campgrounds; and replaces a citation for indecent exposure, which has the
excessively harsh requirement that the offender register as a sex
Meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m.
Dave Coulson, Chair
FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
- Marina concession @ Carter Lake
- Commercial Use of DNR Lands – Final approval
- Whole Measures – Continue discussion
Next regular meeting: January 12, 2009, Bison Visitor Center, 1800 South County Road 31, Loveland, CO