Tuesday, July 12, 2011 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,

Boyd Lake Room, Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 West Oak, Fort Collins, 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.

Please call Deb at 619-4567 if you are unable to attend a meeting.  Votes require a quorum.  Thanks!


NOTE:  The group photo has been moved to August 9, since Gary will be absent from the July meeting.



Frank Cada

Mark DeGregorio

Glen Doughty

Russ Fruits

Ron Kainer

Linda Knowlton

Barry Lewis

Steve Schweitzer

Forrest Orswell



Shannon Barnes

Charlie Johnson

Dan Rieves

Debra Wykoff

Steve Johnson, Commissioner



Frank Gillespie

Rob Harris


The July 12, 2011, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Russell Fruits at 5:30 p.m.  The minutes of the June 14, 2011, meeting were approved.


The Board welcomed two new members:  Ron Kainer was raised in Larimer County, and has lived here 46 years.  He was a professional archaeologist for 9 years, and then taught high school and coached basketball for 20 years.  Glen Doughty has recently moved to Larimer County after a career in the oil industry.  He and his wife moved here for the outdoor recreation opportunities.  He lives in Timnath.  He enjoys hiking.


Rob Harris is returning to the Board after a 2-year leave of absence; he was unable to attend this meeting.  Linda Knowlton has been reappointed to another 3-year term.


PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda - None



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

  • Department Volunteer Boards summer picnic – 8/24 at Horsetooth Reservoir South Bay Swim Beach
  • Larimer County Environmental Stewardship Awards are due 8/31.  You can nominate on line at www.larimer.org/boards/eab/Awards/awards.htm The awards acknowledge individuals and organizations in Larimer County who have undertaken activities that demonstrate exceptional stewardship of the environment.  
  • Open Lands Small Grants for Community Partnering applications are due 3pm on 9/9/11 and are available at http://larimer.org/openlands/smallgrants.htm
  • COSA Conference reminder – Glenwood springs Sept 19-21, registration coming out soon.  There will be an emphasis on sessions for Board and Commission members and 2-3 OLAB members are encouraged to attend.
  • Belt Collins, a landscape design and planning firm out of Boulder, has donated 8-12 hours of pro-bono work to assist in designing the new wild zone at River Bluffs Open Space



Big Thompson Flood Parcels – Charlie Johnson, Sr. Land Agent
In 1976, after the Big T flood, Larimer County acquired 153 parcels on the Big T river.  The County is now in the process of disposing of some of the parcels, or trading them for fishing access, etc.  Many parcels have also been retained for public access.


Area 5 – Narrows: 


After the last meeting, Barry Lewis noted an error in the motions passed with regards to Area 5 – the Narrows.  Charlie presented revised language to correct that error.  The text of these proposals is attached to the minutes.


Public comment on Area 5, Recommendation #1:

Walt Graul, Berthoud, CO, Friends of the Big Thompson:  Although the original issue was the flood, the actual justification used for the purchase of these parcels by the County was to preserve fishing access; and Federal Land and Water Conservation Funds were used to acquire the parcels.  The proposed trade with the owner on the south side of the river is exciting.  The professional demeanor of all involved has resulted in a win-win situation, for which Walt, on behalf of the Friends, commends everyone.


Lee Evans, Ft. Collins, President of local Fly Casters, Trout Unlimited:  They were very concerned when the County  began selling these parcels, but they are very pleased with how the County is handling it, and protecting fishing access.  Their chapter has adopted the Narrows Park.  They have been cleaning and maintaining it for 6 years.  They mow it in the spring, chip dead branches and use the chippings to keep weeds and mud at bay, spray thistle, etc.  So they are very interested in the property.  They have tried to be very respectful of the neighbors next door and private property rights.  Moving the parking lot is very feasible.  If there is a place for volunteer help in moving the road, they want to offer help.  They are very concerned about all the properties.  The Big Thompson is famous for not having as much public access as other rivers like the Poudre, so they do not want to lose any public access.  Keep it up.


Jim _______, Loveland Fishing Club:  Commends Charlie for his work on these parcels.  Is there any possibility of gaining additional public access to the parcel on the north east side of the river?  [No.]


Area 5, Recommendation #2:

The adjacent property owner to the Narrows Park, Mr. Buna, proposes to a trade of a portion of the west part of the Narrows Park from the County in exchange for public access along the south side of the river, but not including the bank (he owns to the center of the river.)  He requests that the parking lot be moved further to the east, using the same access point.  See attached. 


Board and staff comments:

Linda Knowlton:  Will Mr. Buna fence his new property line?

Mark DeGregorio:  All the times Mr. Buna spoke to the Board, he was most opposed to the public in the river in front of his property.

Charlie:  This will provide a buffer for Mr. Buna.

Dan Rieves:  Charlie said that Mr. Buna suggested this early in the process, but it was stalled out because he wanted the access point moved, and there is no safe access point closer to the bridge.

Frank Cada:  What about the estimate of cost to do this transaction?  The river is pretty narrow there.

Charlie:  The work will be done in-house, and fairly inexpensively.

Steve Schweitzer:  Has there been any discussion of signage, since this will be a sweeping change from the past?  Mr. Buna would appreciate that.

Charlie:  Yes – appropriate new signage will be developed. 

Linda:  She is encouraged by the support we’ve gotten from the Friends of the Big Thompson, and feels they will help make this work.

Dan:  We’re proposing a fee simple transaction, but it’s possible that Mr. Buna has something else in mind.

Steve:  A lot of great work has been done on this.


Linda Knowlton made, and Frank Cada seconded, a motion that the Board support Recommendation #1.  There was no discussion.  The motion passed.


Barry Lewis made, and Steve Schweitzer seconded, a motion that the Board support Recommendation #2, authorizing staff to move forward with negotiations on this proposal.  Following discussion, below, motion passed.


Board discussion

Linda Knowlton:  If we don’t know exactly what Mr. Buna wants should we be voting on a motion?  [This motion authorizes staff to move forward with negotiating the specifics of the agreement.]














Area 12b – Drake – South of the bridge over the North Fork of the Big Thompson River

Area 20 – Glen Haven Road – Large flat area


Charlie has heard from 2 previous owners of Area 12b who are interested in buying if the opportunity exists.  No response on Area 20.  The 60 day public comment period on 12b and 20 will expire at the next meeting, and there will be a staff recommendation at that time.  There is a signed contract on the Bartels parcel. 



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

§   East Portal and Mary’s Lake campgrounds are very busy.  We have seen much higher usage at these campgrounds.  There are still many infrastructure issues.  Things are going well.  The staff at Rocky has  been very supportive in sending referrals our way. 

§   The partnership with Estes Valley Recreation & Park District (EVRPD) – Stan Gengler is retiring, and is transferring to a consulting role during the interim.  Dan has been working with Stan on a capital improvement plan for the next 5 years.  The primary focus of improvements will be the main hub at Mary’s Lake for RV’s.  The remaining shower buildings will be upgraded next winter. 

§   Commissioner Donnelly held a public meeting in Estes Park.  Before we took over these areas, there was a lot of public opposition to the master plan, and to fires in Mary’s Lake campground.  Tom was extremely supportive of our efforts and our staff.  Dan and Chris are also meeting with homeowners at their next meeting.  Prior to the master plan, local residents did not know the properties were managed by EVRPD, and not private campgrounds.  Dan feels we are now doing a good job of building bridges with local constituents.  Dan and Chris also made a presentation to the EVRPD board.

§   Field Manager is performing well, with few glitches.  The next conversation at the end of this season is what a rollout to the entire park system would look like.  If we go forward, that will require an entire year to occur.

§   Horsetooth and Carter are both full.  There is no below-high-water parking. 

§   Capital improvement projects for 2011-12: 

§ Additional marina parking at Carter Lake and electrical service to the marina docks

§ Forestry project at Horsetooth

§ Horsetooth S. Bay, additional full-service campsites.


  • Annual inspections at the marinas went well.  There were no major problems.  Relationships between the marina staff and the county have been admirable.

  • July 4th weekend was a total zoo, but relatively without incident.  Usually we are in competition with many other recreation opportunities.  But this year, with temperatures in the nineties, we were extremely busy.  Dan is really proud of the seasonal park crew this year.  He credits our superb training program.

  • S. Bay campsite project open house:  Turnout was light – 5 or 6 people showed up.  They had met in advance with one neighbor, and had a private meeting with one person who could not attend.  One person was concerned about sewer smell, which has never been an issue.  Another person was concerned about the impact on property values.  One person and his son would prefer no expansion at all at S. Bay.  They intend to pass a petition in opposition.  Dan encouraged them to bring it to the next Board meeting.  The two-tier concept is off the table at this point.  The issue with the neighbors is that their elevated decks will look over the camper tops.  Statistics show that we are out of campsites to meet demand.  We used to have 10-12 temporary campsites below high water, which was high maintenance and low quality camping experience.  Now we have established campsites along the east side.  We do not charge differential fees for waterfront properties.  We will have final numbers for the cost of this project by the next meeting.  It may be an action item at the next meeting. 


Board and staff comment:

Steve Schweitzer:  Is there room for another campsite at the west end of this loop?  [No – steep topography.]

Glen Doughty:  What is the estimated cost of doing the project? 

Dan:  The project cost is approximately $200,000, with $93,000 from the BOR and $100,000 for GOCO being requested.  Capital projects are funded through grants, etc.  Potential revenues will never cover the construction cost on top of the management cost.  We are meeting public demand.  These are full-hook-up sites, which are in short supply and high demand. 

Frank Cada:  What size of RV will fit?  [45 ft. rigs will fit]


  • It is July 12, and HT is 6 ft. from full, and still going up.  Visitation has caught up with 2010, or a bit higher, with the hot weather.  Horsetooth  is the busiest reservoir in the state, second only to Pueblo.  The coves on the west side are unique, and are packed.  Why do we keep adding campsites?  Because we are full, and the demand is there.  The biggest challenge is lack of flat land. 

  • HT Reservoir has some of the most spectacular cliff-diving in Colorado.  Two people have almost died this summer.  This is why we don’t allow it – water levels fluctuate 50 feet vertically, and the water is murky – you can’t see what you’re jumping into.  The water level can drop fast without being visible to divers.

  • Swim beaches are hugely popular – the new one at Sunrise and the remodeled S. Bay.  The smaller shelter at Sunrise is reserved almost every day.  The beaches are packed.

  • Yoga on the swim beach at S. Bay has also been very popular, every Saturday, 8 – 9 am, free with a day permit.
  • Deer Trail forestry project completed, for $25,000.  Second project below the homes on Spring Canyon Dam will address beetle kill trees. 

  • The current seasonal crew is fantastic.

  • Road races are increasing.  A lot more special events every year.

  • We identified several years ago that special events is one area where we can grow.  One issue is road races on the county parks, which we do not control.  This is a sore spot for neighbors (bicycle traffic around the reservoirs.)  This is a complex issue, involving several County departments.  The County Manager has been supportive of our efforts to manage the impact of these events on our parks.  The quantity of cyclists that go by HT and Carter every weekend is in the thousands.  It’s difficult to drive in the area; difficult for our staff to do their job.  Big RV’s and pontoon boats, large groups of motorcycles, and no shoulder along 38E and CR 31.


  • Mountain Bike race last weekend went off without a hitch.  They were not on foot-traffic only trails.  It was very well organized.  Our staff was impressed with the quality of the event and the racing.  There was only one medical incident.  Lory State Park also had 150 additional vehicles there – more impact there than at HT Mountain.  The organizers did trail repairs this week.

    Board and staff comment:
  • Linda Knowlton:  In the newspaper, it said the trails would be closed during the race.  [True.  The race was on Horsetooth Mountain; the parking was on Lory.]

  • Steve Schweitzer:  How is the new reservation system working?  [Well – no major problems.]  He is concerned about cliff diving – should we barricade them to be inaccessible?


  • Dan Rieves:  There is a contingent that wants to legalize it.  Another group wants to control it more strictly.  There are about 4 prime places to dive under normal circumstances.  With high water, it’s the whole reservoir.  Barricades would not be effective.  Signs have been set in concrete, but still disappear.  We treat it as a high priority because it is a safety issue, but it is extremely difficult to catch them.  How much time do we allocate toward enforcement?  Recreational liability:  We do our best to get the word out via regulations.  The other view is if you can’t beat it, legalize it.  Even if we built a sanctioned cliff diving facility, people would still do it other places.  

  • Russ Fruits:  Encourages Board members to do a ride-a-long with a ranger – it’s an eye-opener.

  • Dan Rieves:  Two of our seasonal rangers did the rescue on the woman who was severely injured two weeks ago.  They begin to lose their sense of humor with people violating safety rules.

  • Steve Johnson:  Liability would be higher if it were legalized.  We have regulations – people know it is illegal.

  • Ron Kainer:  He did it himself years ago, so he understands both the appeal and the inherent risks involved.

§   Steve Schweitzer offered autographed copies of his newly published book on hiking and fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park to all Board members.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:15 pm.


Respectfully submitted,


Debra Wykoff







Russell Fruits, Chair

Next regular meeting: August 9, 2011, at the Bison Visitor Center, 1800 S. County Road 31, Loveland, CO.

Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks




Staff Recommendations - Big Thompson Flood Parcel Project:  Area 5 - Narrows


Recommendation #1


  1. Offer the 1.95 ac Cornelius parcel to the Hansons first.
  2. After the Hanson sale, conduct a sealed bid auction open to all previous and adjacent landowners to the .58 ac Colorado Properties LTD parcel.
  3. After the Colorado Properties LTD parcel sale, conduct a sealed bid auction open to all previous and adjacent landowners to the 8.25 ac McCargo parcel.
  4. Both bid auctions will have a minimum amount established.
  5. All sales will have be deed restricted, non-buildable and the County will retain a 10’ wide fee simple strip along the entire length of its ownership adjacent to the river corridor.


Recommendation #2


Trade a deed restricted non-buildable portion of the west part of the existing day use area to Mr. Buna in exchange for a portion of the BT River that Mr. Buna owns. The County will retain a 10’ fee simple buffer between what we trade to Mr. Buna up to the center of the river. The land traded by Mr. Buna to the County will be from the top of the bank to the center of the river and the entire length of his river ownership. As part of this trade, we will abandon the existing parking area and move it to the east away from Mr. Buna’s home. We will continue to use the existing park entrance adjacent to the portion traded to Mr. Buna.