Tuesday, October 11, 2011 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Bison Visitor Center , 1800 S. County Road 31, Loveland, CO
The October 11, 2011, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Russell Fruits at 5:36 p.m. The minutes of the September 13, 2011, meeting were approved.
PUBLIC COMMENT: None
GENERAL INFORMATION: (Questions – 5 min.)
§ Natural Resource Events for this month: See website http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources.
- Attendance for campground programs was up 33% from 2010, continuing a trend of improving public participation over the past several years. In 2011, there were a total of 60 programs presented, of which 19 were at Hermit Park Open Space. The other 41 programs were at Horsetooth, Carter and Flatiron. Maximum attendance at all locations ranged from 30 – 80. New topics included Water Creatures (big draw for families); Professional Mountain Man Interpreter; Search and Rescue Dogs; and Cooking like the Pioneers, presented by Ranger Steve Gibson (very popular program with participants.)
- There was a prescribed burn at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space last week. The fire was under control at all times. There were numerous phone calls to the Sheriff about the smoke plume. Postcards were sent out to neighbors, along with press releases. We’re trying to improve the public notice process; for the next burn planned for Thursday, large orange signs will be posted on the road in the area.
COSA Starburst Award was awarded to our Department, and presented at the
Commissioners’ meeting this morning.
Big Thompson Flood Parcels – Charlie Johnson, Sr. Land Agent
- Area 3 (Upstream from Big Thompson Elementary)
The Leopards own to the center of the river on the south side, above the spillway. Sylvan Dale Ranch owns both sides of the river below the spillway. The state just signed “no parking” along the south side of the highway in the past year; the reason is not known. Charlie will try to find out. It is just west of the Big Thompson Elementary.
Board and staff comments;
Frank Cada: There is a curve along there, but the speed limit is 50, and is lower during school hours.
Linda Knowlton: Clarified with the Leopards what their interest is – they are interested in purchasing the land on the north side of the river across from their property.
Mr. Leopard: He gets the impression that getting access for fishermen is the board’s priority now – not selling to private owners. When Gary first told them about this several years ago, they understood that the County was planning to sell these parcels to previous or adjacent owners, and they have been waiting for this parcel to come up. Has something changed?
Dan: There has been a lot of public process in the past 5 years. We are now focused on areas with clear or historical recreation value. Several areas without recreational value or river access have been sold. Areas with high recreational value are being considered first.
Linda Knowlton: The Commissioners did say that if a parcel is sold, previous or adjacent owners have priority over others.
Mr. Leopard: The Board has a terrible job trying to make everybody happy. On the other hand, they as private landowners have to deal with people who come off the highway onto private property and make a mess. If there are problems, they have to deal with it, because the County doesn’t do much maintenance there.
Ron Kainer: He’s assuming it’s school property in front of the school; the school has a say on the use of their parking lot during school hours. We should check with the school district on whether public parking is allowed there except on evenings and weekends.
Frank Cada: A lot of fishermen use it on the weekends. It is possible to turn around there without pulling out into the road. Historically, it has had a lot of other uses by the community besides school use.
§ Area 17 (Downstream from Glen Comfort store)
Charlie displayed a map showing all the Big Thompson areas currently under consideration, and highlighting those parcels on which action has already been taken. He presented a slide show of Area 17, where the County owns to the center of the river. There is one parcel which is fairly level on top which might be buildable. There is an abandoned shooting range on adjoining USFS property. Next steps for this area: Research the access road to learn whether it is public or private.
Board and staff comments:
Frank Cada: What is the total length of river to which the County owns access?
Linda Knowlton: What kind of viable public access do you see? Even if people can legally drive in on the access road, would we want to allow public access there?
Charlie: He demonstrated on the map which parcels are accessible to the river. A lot of our property is accessible to the river. We would have to negotiate with other property owners to allow public access, because the access road may be a private right of way to which only the property owners (including Larimer County) have access.. Charlie has not been able to contact the owners of the house at the entrance to the access road, which is marked “No Trespassing.” But he will continue trying to do so.
Gary: Perhaps we can trade with other landowners for better access?
Charlie: It’s a possibility in this area. He will also research how much it would cost to engineer the buildable site.
Gary: Would we have to go through Planning to designate the one site as buildable/ (Yes)
Frank Gillespie: Why would there be a buildable site in this area which was condemned after the flood?
[The house was probably located on flat land next to the river. The higher area of the parcel is not within the floodplain.]
Mark DeGregorio: He would like a board field trip scheduled before the next meeting to look at the buildable site, after Charlie has more information about it.
Gary: We will have a recommendation for the Board at the next meeting, when the 60 day public comment period ends. A field trip will be scheduled. Gary thanked Charlie for all his work on this.
Dwayne Leopard: They have lived in their residence for 8 years, and own to the middle of the river, just above the spillway. They are interested in Area 3, in the 25-30 yards above the spillway. They would like to have the extended front yard. They understand the use will be restricted. It’s been several years, and they are wondering about the status. Fishermen have to come onto their property to get around the spillway. They would like to buy it. As far as public access, it isn’t great right there, where the State put up “no parking” signs. They cut the grass along the river front.
Walt Graul: Representing the Friends of the Big Thompson River. For the benefit of the new Board members, he notes in his written comments, FRIENDS OF THE BIG THOMPSON RIVER includes angling businesses in Loveland, Ft. Collins, and Berthoud; The Loveland Fishing Club (80+ members) and Rocky Mountain Flycasters ( the local TU chapter with about 850 members); and many individual members (mostly from the Front Range ). Following is the text of the written comments submitted:
Before getting into our detailed comments, we would first like to express our appreciation for the progress that has been made relative to the County staff and the Parks Advisory Board addressing the areas that have been recommended for retention for the benefit of the anglingpublic. In 2005 we supported the retention of angling access on12 areas – about half of the areas under consideration for disposal. When action is taken on areas 3 and 17, the only area left for action on the list of 12 is a day use area on the North Fork - and the latter area is understandably a lower priority than the others from an angling viewpoint. Furthermore, it is greatly appreciated that regarding the actions to-date, fishing access has been retained appropriately for the angling public. This reflects highly on the credibility of the County staff and Board members associated with this process.
AREA 3 comments: At the last Board Meeting there was discussion of the limited parking opportunities adjacent to Area 3 – created by the ‘no parking’ signs currently in place. However, it should be noted that even with the parking restrictions anglers find a way to park elsewhere and fish the area. In fact, some of us visited the area last Thursday and there was a gentleman fishing - during a weekday in October. So, although parking is limited, it should not be a reason to lose the angling opportunity that clearly exists now and has existed previously. With the close proximity to Loveland, this fishing opportunity will only become even more valuable in the future.
Concern was also expressed about potential problems with people tubing. We appreciate this issue and understand that it might require specific attention, but again it is not a reason to eliminate fishing.
We did note that the Larimer County sign on the property is confusing. Specifically, it says “riverbottom and banks are private property…” Obviously this does not apply to the bank that is owned by the County. So, this needs some clarification. Also, the fence along the bank on County property does not seem to serve any purpose and could be removed to help improve access. We do agree with Mr. Jessup’s suggestion that the property does need to be clearly marked and signed to avoid any trespass problems.
It might also be of interest to note that the County land here is not grazed and represents healthy riparian habitat. This is not a focus of our angling access interest, but might well be of interest to the County Open Lands Board, since the latter program’s master plan classifies riparian habitat along the Big Thompson River as a “priority area” with an objective of “continued protection efforts”.
AREA 17 COMMENTS: From an overview perspective the area 17 parcels are of high value for fishing, since they are in the ‘catch and release’ upper section of a wild trout river on the Front Range. This section is heavily fished. In fact, on most good days, especially on weekends, all the available pull-off parking sites are occupied by anglers. As we have mentioned previously, what helps create the high angling use of this whole river system is the presence of multiple, small parking sites all along the river. In this vein, it is important that the County retain the fishing access and parking spot on the Mangnall parcel if it is sold as a building site. Certainly, the area above the river bluff could be sold under these conditions with no loss of angling opportunity.
Fishing access on the other parcels in Area 17 should likewise be retained and well-marked. Additionally, access along the 2-track on the south side of the river should be clarified. Specifically, where the 2-track leaves the highway there are ‘private property ‘signs? Re Area 17: This is a wild trout basin, which is rare and hard to find anywhere – a very important fishing area.
Tom Miller: He does not come with selfish interests – he is too old to fish it; he doesn’t want to own it. But people who want to fish should be able to fish it. It is a good fishing spot. Population is blossoming along the Front Range. This is not a time to be getting rid of public access to the river. Take the fence down, and create a safe parking area on the river side of the highway, so people aren’t walking across the highway from the school parking. On Area 17, re the potential building site: The view of the bluff from the river is beautiful – please protect it.
ACTION ITEMS – None
PRESENTATIONS - None
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report
§ CSU Homecoming Parade – we had a horse and mounted ranger and also a boat with candy and kids and staff in matching T-shirts in the parade, which was all a big hit with the crowd.
§ Horsetooth was full every weekend up until last weekend when it rained.
§ They are removing buoys from the reservoirs and cleaning campgrounds – just as busy now as during the summer.
§ 568 boy scouts camped at Horsetooth last weekend, and did a service project. They removed 2000 trees and shrubs from the shoreline at Inlet Bay, along the south half of the campground. Small trees become big trees, so it’s important to get them out.
§ The Canadian Olympic canoeing and kayaking team needed a high-altitude place to train. They will be at Horsetooth for two hours every morning for the next two weeks.
§ Blue Sky Marathon, 26 miles, through Horsetooth Mountain Open Spae and the Blue Sky Trail, with 200 runners, went well.
§ September 24, was the Horsetooth 8 rowing event. Very successful.
§ Water levels are still high. Water is coming in.
§ The forestry project at the “Torture Chamber” climbing area to remove pine beetle kill trees near private property will happen in October.
§ Chris Fleming and Will Talbott, Sr. Ranger, attended the COSA conference in Glenwood Springs.
§ Fishing is Fun project at Flatiron will begin this fall to improve shoreline access.
§ Boy Scout project scheduled at Carter Lake next weekend.
§ Climbing Coalition came in and worked on trail issues at Fawn Hollow, in the climbing area.
§ Colorado Wedding Magazine is running a full page ad for our wedding venues at Hermit Park and Horsetooth.
§ Estes Convention and Visitors’ Bureau magazine is also coming out with an ad.
§ The Estes area campgrounds will close on 10/15.
§ Stan Gengler, Director of Estes Valley Recreation and Park District, has retired.
§ Hermit’s Hollow campground construction is going well. Road work and new campsites will be done this week; our in-house crews will upgrade existing sites and finish the new sites.
- Construction of the Phase 2 parking lot at Carter Lake Marina will begin soon.
- S. Bay campground construction is awaiting the outcome of the grant.
Christianson met with Dan yesterday about the idea he presented to the
board last month for a riverboat / Education and
Cultural Center on Horsetooth Reservoir. He has a lot of interest
from various stakeholders, but everyone is waiting to see whether the idea
gets traction before committing. Dan discussed the size and scope of the
proposed vessel and its appropriateness for Horsetooth Reservoir.
Steve Schweitzer has
resigned from the board, and will be moving out of state. He will not be
replaced until next April. The board concurred.
· Gary solicited opinions from the Board about the summer picnic and holiday party. Attendance from the Board has been fairly low.
Russ Fruits: The picnic was interesting, but kind of turned into a ranger party.
Gary: The intent was to introduce the new Horsetooth group pavilion.
Frank Gillespie: Great event and enjoys it if he can attend – good idea to combine the staff and boards.
Ron Kainer: He thought it was a good opportunity to see all the staff, as a new board member. It was a good introduction to staff.
General sentiment was expressed that the Christmas party last year at a private home was fun. However, the same individual will probably not be able to host it this year.
Russ Fruits: His new brewery will open
soon, and he could host the holiday party.
- Gary also asked board members to provide feedback on the Commissioners’ reception for Boards. Attendance at that event was also low.
· Several people did not attend due to schedule conflicts.
· The food was excellent.
· The Commissioners should have some kind of program - give a speech or something, in addition to just having the members of the boards stand up.
· The entertainment at previous receptions was a bit silly sometimes, but some kind of entertainment is needed as a focal point for the event.
· The best event was one year when board members went next door after the reception to see a final rehearsal of a play at the Lincoln Center - that was very enjoyable.
· The location is fine.
· Most board members have attended at least one of these receptions, but aren't interested in returning every year.
· Attending a reception is not a high priority in most people's busy schedules.
· The board as a group appreciates the effort and intention to show appreciation, but most would prefer not to attend a reception.
· Gary distributed 2012 pocket calendars as a gift from the Commissioners for board members.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:04 pm.
Russell Fruits, Chair
Next regular meeting: November 8, 2011, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., in the Boyd Lake Room at the Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 W. Oak, Fort Collins, CO
Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks