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1 - Draft Minutes - Open Space - October 15, 2008 OPEN SPACE BOARD OF TRUSTEES 1Vlinutes October 15, 2008 BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT Pat Billig Kay Tauscher Bill Briggs John Putnam Allyn Feinberg STAFF PRESENT Mike Patton Dean Paschall Eric Stone Jim Reeder Delani Wheeler Joe Montrone Ann Goodhart Sarah Hill Steve Armstead Mark Gershman Julie Johnson Annie McFarland Will Keeley CALL TO ORDER = The meeting was called to order at 6:01 p.m. 4~ AGENDA ITEM 1-Approval of Minutes John Putnam moved that the minutes of August 27, 2008 be approved. Bill Briggs seconded the motion. The oration passed unanimously. John moved to amend the minutes of September 10, 2008 an page 2, Agenda Item 4, line 6, changing the word "current" to "currently proposed" and on page 3, Agenda. Item 4, line 30, changing the word "Board" to "staff'. John moved to approve the minutes of September 10, 2008 as amended. Kay Tauscher seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously AGENDA ITE117 2 -Public Participation Richard Reynolds,lVlr. Reynolds reviewed the sustainable recreation monitoring document and wants to share his thoughts with staff. He said the document is a goad start, but that it is lacking a description of what it is trying to protect. NIr. Reynolds has not seen evidence for a comprehensive understanding of the resources OS~~' is trying to protect. He emphasized that compliance will not directly translate into resource protection because the presence of trails alone can disrupt wildlife. The work done by OSMP staff on wildlife monitoring has been excellent. ~u•. Reynolds wanted to alert the Board that he expected to see an inventory of the resources in the area first and then a management plan to protect those resources. AGENDA ITElV13 -Director's Updates Volunteer Raptor l~lonitoring Program Will Keeley gave a quick update on the raptor nesting success for 2008. There were 15 active nesting sites, 12 of which were successful. Five species of raptors were monitored that produced a total of 32 fledglings, including eight osprey fledglings from three different nests around the Reservoir. This is the first year that all three osprey sites at the reservoir were successful. Will emphasized that the raptor program would not be so successful without its large contingency of volunteers; this year there were 49 volunteers who made 587 site visits, totaling at least 1800 hours of effort. The volunteer raptor monitors have one of the lowest turnover rates of OSIVIP's volunteer programs; many return to the same site every year. Lisa Dierauf has been doing an outstanding job organizing this program, and Sarah Diefenbach collates the volunteer data sheets to deliver the information to staff in the wildlife program. One of the volunteers whom Ranger Rick Hatfield befriended passed away recently and bequeathed 20 percent of her estate for expansion of the raptor program equaling approximately $60,000. The volunteer requested that her name not be used. Delani Wheeler, Eric Stone, Lisa. Dierauf and Will brainstormed AGENDA ITEM 1 PAGE 1 ideas to spend the funds and came up with a few options. Staff would like to purchase some new scopes and tripods to give the volunteers easier access to better equipment. The other $55,000 or so could be used to set up an endowment fund and use the annual interest to reinstate the raptor internship through the Enviranrnental Studies Program at the University of Colorado (CU). Will started as a raptor intern with CU, and he has taken on working with CU to see if this internship can be worked out for either a stipend or class credit. Rick has hvo ideas for the internship: one would involve the student setting up an end of year project that would enhance public outreach and education on the raptor program, and the second option is to enhance the monitoring to include forest hawks. Ideally, staff would like to get the intern by this spring. Delani added that an important component of this program is that the climbing community has agreed to respect the climbing closures, and the monitoring is very important since nest success is a big factor in their cooperation. Will added that even after the young have fledged staff and volunteers have been monitoring to see if the fledglings have left the natal area. Bill encouraged Will to pursue the internship, and thinks the educational component is a good option. Eldorado Nlomitain /Doudy Draw Trails projects and Spri~ig Brook Trails ~%olunteer Project Annie McFarland gave a presentation on the trail work that has been occurring this year in the Eldorado Mountain /Doudy Draw area. The Prairie Vista trail is now open to pedestrians, bikes, horses, and is a voice and sight control trail. The portion of the trail that starts at the Flatirons Vista trailhead is ADA accessible. The Flatirons Vista trail has the same regulations as Prairie Vista, and is open to the public, but no portion of the trail is ADA accessible. Work was also done on the Doudy Draw trail to re-route the trail out of the riparian area. Mountain bikes, equestrians, and pedestrians are allowed on Doudy Draw and it is a voice and sight control trail. The new alignment required that the existing bridge over Community Ditch be moved to the new ditch crossing location, and a new pedestrian bridge was also constructed on upper Doudy Draw to help keep people out of the creek bed. Staff had originally proposed that the Spring Braak Loap area be in the Eldorado Mountain Habitat Conservation Area (HCA), but the designation was changed to a natural area due to feedback from the community and Cit<~ Council. OS~~ has put special protections in place by requiring bikes, equestrians, and pedestrians with dogs to be an trail, with dogs an leash; and only pedestrians may ga off trail. OSMP had two volunteer days this fall to help construct part of the Spring Brook Loop North trail and the volunteers accomplished about 1,400 feet of trail work. Mountain bikes, equestrians and pedestrians will be allow°ed on the Spring Brook Loop South, but dogs will not be allowed. The entire Spring Brook Loap system should be complete by the end of November. The Goshawk Ridge trail is in the HCA so everyone is required to stay on trail unless they obtain an ofl=trail permit, and mountain bikes and dogs will not be allowed on the trail. Construction did not start until the end of September when the wildlife monitoring pellet plots were cleared. A contractor is building a bridge to go over Community Ditch to access the Goshawk Ridge trail although installation cannot begin until November 1. None of the trails in the Spring Brook area will be opened for public use until the sustainable recreation monitoring has been implemented. OSA~IP is holding a public meeting tomorrow night an the monitoring. John asked what happened with debris that was left behind after the first volunteer trail day. Annie said staff did look at the trail afterward and felt that about 80 to 90 percent of sail and rocks were dispersed in the way staff had asked. A portion of the debris was not dispersed to OSMP's standards so the trail crew went out and cleaned up the area. Staff recommendations were taken into account for the second volunteer day and a staff member gave a presentation on proper debris dispersal and why it is important and more people were also working on a shorter section of the trail in easier terrain so the project went better. Annie said staff realized the two most important factors were briefing the volunteers at the start of the project and working in easier terrain. AGENDA ITEM 1 PAGE 2 Cultural Resources Program Delani said that 2008 is the first year OSMP has had funding for a Cultural Resource Coordinator. Developing a cultural resources program was identified as a legacy program as part of the Strategic Operating Program {SOP). OSMP did an internal search and Julie Johnson is the new Cultural Resource Coordinator. Julie has extensive experience working with cultural resources and staff feels they are very lucky to have Julie leading this program. Julie gave a brief presentation on cultural resources and explained that cultural resources are physical manifestations of a society's past, and that it is important not to lose those resources. Julie went through examples of cultural resources that have been both saved and destroyed in the past, including the discovery and looting of 1Vlesa Vercle National IVlonument, which led to the passing of the Federal Antiquities act. There is a rich history of paleontological resources, archeological resources, and prehistoric cultures in the Colorado Front Range. OSR%1P project lead Paul Rovnak worked closely with preservationists on the Sunrise Amplitheater to do an adaptive retrofit that added an ADA ramp. Now, Julie's first priority is the West TSA. There are many historic structures in the ?Vest TSA and some are in need of some work. A local contractor has been hired to do current condition assessments and recommendations for treatment of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) buildings. Julie is also working with some members of the community, such as the Hogan's, to do oral history intei-~,~iews. Julie went over some cultural resource vocabulary, explaining that restoring a resource means rebuilding a structure with historic authenticity in mind whereas rehabilitating means returning a structure to a state of utility. OSMP will mainly focus on rehabilitating structures. Julie reminded the Board and staff that it's best to assume that cultural resources are everywhere, and that if something is found, to leave it where it is found and contact Julie. If a cultural resource is found, but taken from the location, it loses its context. Bill asked Julie if she feels it's a compromise to rehabilitate rather than restore a structure. Julie said that she does not feel it's a compromise since rehabilitation takes advantage of some modern amenities, and restoration can be very expensit%e and difficult to maintain. Rehabilitation can bring structures up to date and guarantee their continued use. Pat asked if interpretation is part of the cultural resource program and Julie that it is and she will be working with Education and Outreach staff on interpretation programs. John said that it would be useful to leverage with same schools to do oral history interviews before those resources are no longer around, and Julie agreed that oral history interviews are a great idea. Julie also said she is happy to take any Board members on field trips to sites on OSA•~IP. Monitoizng Protocol for Eldorado nTomitain /Dowdy Dra~~ Mark went through the sustainable recreation monitoring presentation that staff will give the public at the public meeting tomoiY-ow night. n%Iike added that the goal for tomorrow is to gather information from the public on their reactions and interest in the monitoring proposal. Staff would also like to come back to the Board once the monitoring protocol has been finalized. The area between Dowdy Draw and the Denver Water Board (DWB) w°as proposed as a HCA, but feedback from the community and City Council was considered and the area was designated as a natural area. Staff also committed to being cautious and watchful of the resources in this area so, in recognition that human activity can have undesirable impacts, OSMP is requiring that cyclists, equestrians, and dog walkers stay on trail, with dogs on leash. The monitoring efforts will try to answer how effective these regulations are at keeping people on trail. OSMP is also introducing new activities to the area and staff wants to monitor how the visitor experience is in the area. OSMP also did a few things in trail design and construction with the Goshawk Ridge trail that staff might not have done if they were not so concerned about natural resources in the area. An existing section of social trail is being used rather than building a new trail and staff will be monitoring that to see if it is sustainable, and if the trail can hold up to equestrian use. Mark described the monitoring approach, and the development of objectives and thresholds. For example, if monitoring for on-trail travel shows that compliance is above the set thresholds, staff will continue monitoring, but are likely to tone down the efforts. However, if the results show compliance is below the thresholds, the proposal outlines a number of least restrictive responses, including more signage, AGENDA ITEM 1 PAGE 3 enforcement, and education to encourage people to stay on trail. OSMP may also work with community groups to address users traveling off trail. Seasonal or temporary access restrictions could be used if there is a seasonal sensitivity, such as wet trails or wildlife use. Monitoring will continue after responses are taken to determine if they worked, and if they did not, OSMP will move on to a more restrictive response, and will continue to respond using adaptive management cycles. Bill asked Mark to clarify what segment observation means and Mark explained that staff is trying to treat the observations from one segment as an entire trip. This method will probably underestimate what is measured, but will provide an estimate of the average person's behavior in the observed stretches. Eric said it is not a compliance rate, but more of an index of compliance. Mike said staff knows that some data will not be statistically or scientifically reliable because of the landscape constraints on monitoring in this area. Pat inquired about the timing and frequency of monitoring. A similar method to what was done for the High Plains study will be used by observing both weekdays and weekends and moving around seasonally. Allyn asked if staff will use anecdotal information passed along from people out on the trails. Mark said that will be taken into consideration, and explained that there is anecdotal information in monitoring as well, since monitors take notes on their observations. 1Vlike said that the ranger staff will dedicate two seasonal rangers who will be on board by mid-November to the monitoring process for enforcement and education. These rangers will provide a presence in the field to help people understand the rules and regulations and to issue citations for flagrant violations. At the outset, staff really wants the public to understand what the expectations are for using this area. John asked if staff had any initial reactions to the public comment received tonight from Mr. Reynolds. Mark explained that with this monitoring protocol staff is looking at the broader perspective that off trail travel is not desired in this area and whether the strategies put in place are effective in keeping people on trail. Bill knows there has been an inventory initiative far wildlife monitoring and asked if that inventory has informed the monitoring protocol or if they will be joined at some point later on. I~•~ike said that this is not all of the monitoring, but only the recreation monitoring planned far this area. Will Keeley is heading up the biological monitoring that is currently underway. Pat likes the approach to recreation monitoring and asked if there is something similar for the biological monitoring. OSA%ff has collected a years worth of baseline data on wildlife monitoring, but that data does not lend itself to the kind of least restrictive approach to enforcement that is being proposed here. Staff continues to collect data on wildlife monitoring anch will look to see whether there are effects from the trails being opened, but it is hard to determine what impacts are likely. Pat realizes quantifying wildlife data. is different than recreational data, but she would like to see same analysis and interpretation of the wildlife data. John added that this is only one piece of the overall monitoring work, and that it would be nice to have a sense of how the biological monitoring fits in with recreation monitoring. Eric said that the problem with biological monitoring is one of inference; it is hard to determine whether there is correlation or a direct cause and effect. Dean said there will be information about the wildlife monitoring at the public meeting tomorrow night, in addition to the discussion on recreation monitoring. Kay asked where the 95 percent rate came from in the thresholds and response tables, and if it is a reasonable number compared to compliance levels at other parks. Mark said staff wants high levels of compliance because they are serious about this being an effective strategy and that standard was included in the Visitor Master Plan (VMP). It is also likely that if staff sees 95 percent compliance on one segment, that the actual number is probably far less because staff is only seeing part of the trail, so the high number is also trying to address methodological issues. OSMP has information from the trailhead leash and voice and sight programs an compliance, but these types of studies are not widely done. Kay added that with the way the chart is set up, the most significant outcome is subjective rather than quantitative. Mark said staff wants to give visitors every opportunity to succeed, and did not feel that making the decision to discontinue a particular use should be made only on a numerical threshold. Mark thinks if staff sees something very dramatic through the visitor or biological monitoring that requires immediate action that AGENDA ITEM 1 PAGE 4 the Boarcl will hear about it and be involved in the decision. Kay suggested calling the thresholds, "thresholds and guidelines" instead of "thresholds". Mike asked the Board to consider moving their next meeting from Nov. 19 to Nov. 12 so that staff can bring the monitoring protocol back to the Board without holding up the opening of the trails. Mike thinks it may be advantageous to meet on Nov. 12 to have enough time to digest the information received from the community. The trails are scheduled to be open sometime in the first two weeks of December. Nov. 12 works for all of the Board members so the next meeting will be held then at the Cherryvale office. Other Updates Mike Patton gave an update on the budget and sales tax numbers. OSMP is over ninety percent sales tax funded, so the law sales tax revenue is felt immediately. The department has already frozen external hiring, except the two seasonal ranger positions, which are filling a standard vacancy and are critical to the monitoring program. The city is discussing phasing in the 2009 budget. Next year will be critical if the base is lower and the sales tax is below current projections. Allyn asked if OSh,IP would still sell bands and Mike said it's still on the table at this point, but it will be discussed further befare the scheduled sale in February. Without the bonds, OSMP's acquisition budget will be down to around $3.~ million a year; Mike is confident that Shanahan will be able to go through, but some larger purchases will not be an option without bonding. Ann Goodhart added that OSA,1I' does not have enough information right now to go forward with a number of purchases that are in the works, and that they will have to be put on hold for the time being. Jim Reeder gave a quick update on the Boulder Caunh' Planning Commission Board meeting that was held this afternoon. The Planning Board agreed to approve the special use review for the IVlarshall Mesa trailhead that opened almost two years ago OS11%1P started building the trailhead under a site plan review, which is at a lower level of scrutiny than a special use review. One of the triggers that cause a project to need a higher level of review is haw many daily vehicle trips occur into and out of the area. OSMP worked with the County an a traffic study at both Flatirons Vista and Doudy Draw trailheads and those results were extrapolated to the ~-larshall Mesa trailhead. The numbers showed that if the trailhead was built to the maximum number of 61 parking spaces there would be over 150 vehicle trips per day so staff agreed to fence off 15 parking spaces. A new County employee encouraged OSMP to go through a special use review, «°luch requires a traffic study. The study was conducted in May and OSMP received the report in August and finished the application process for the special use review. The report indicated that if a1161 spaces were opened that there would be 93 vehicle trips per day. The Planning Commission recommended that the County Commissioners approve OSMP's request to open the 15 fenced off parking spaces. There are four conditions included in the recommendation, astorm water permit, grading and building permits, and to abide by all CDOT requirements. Jim wanted to publicly thank Ann Fitzsimmons for all the work she has done with the Cauntv~. AGENDA ITEM 4 -11Tatters from the Board Bill asked why the website only has Board minutes through June. Mike said there is no reason the July minutes are not posted and will check on that tomorrow. ADJOURNMENT -The meeting adjourned at 7:52 p.m. These draft minutes were prepared by Sarah Hill. AGENDA ITEM 1 PAGE 5