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Minutes - Open Space - November 12, 2008 Approved 12/10/2008. OPEN SPACE BOARD OF TRUSTEES Minutes November 12, 2008 BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT Pat Billig Kay Tauscher Bill Briggs John Putnam Allyn Feinberg STAFF PRESENT Mike Patton Dean Paschall Jim Reeder Ann Goodhart Delani Wheeler F,ric Stone Ronda Romero Cecil Fenio Steve Armstead Heather Swanson Mark Gershman Will Keeley Annie McFarland Chris Wanner Ann Lezberg Joe Nlantione GUEST PRESENT' Mathew Alldredge and Fred Quartarone, Colorado Division of Wildlife CALL TO ORDF,R The meeting was called to order at b:00 p.m. AGENDA ITEM 1 -Approval of Minutes John Putnam moved that the minutes of October 15, 2008 be approved. Kay Tauscher seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. AGENDA ITEM 2 -Public Participation Ray Bridge, Boulder, commended staff on the draft Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan that was recently released to the public. AGENDA ITEM 3 -Director's Update Annie McFarland, Visitor Access Coordinator, reported on the Classes and Standards for Trailheads, Access Points and Recreation Sites. The ultimate purpose of the document and monitoring process is to aid staff in accomplishing the Visitor Master Plan goal of providing a quality visitor experience while protecting the natural resources on the Open Space and Mountain Narks (OSMP) system. Annie's power point presentation showed the kinds of information gathered documenting the conditions of the trails on OSMP. Staff monitored the trails and identified where the trails were out of compliance with the established standards. "1'Ize inventory helps staft~target areas needing work and aids in the development of future work plans. Annie pointed out that this information can be accessed on the city's Wcb site. An innovative technique of mapping trail segments was utilized by the Resource I1lformation work group. Key staff' members who worked on this project include Jake Cseke, Jen Sherry and Donna Middleton. John Putnam suggested doing some public outreach. Mike Patton said that besides the information being available on the Web, a "Heads tJp" would be given to council. Delani Wheeler showed a poster produced by Boulder County in celebration of the 75'h anniversary of the New Deal program. The Sunrise Amphitheater was chosen as the main poster image because it was one of the CCC projects competed in Boulder County. Mike Patton updated the Board on acquisitions in general and specifically about the Shanahan property. He said that staff has significant concerns about the department's current financial AGENDA ITEM I PAGE 1 capacity. Due to the department's reliance on sales tax, the current revenue reports predict a drop in funding below projections. There were properties discussed at the annual retreat that staff believed could be financed if bonds were sold. There is a question no~v whether or not a bond sale will occur within the coming months. Mike said that at ]east for now the department does not feel it has the financial capacity to move forward with the Shanahan acquisition. He acknowledged that this is not to say it would not be considered in the future. I'he contract expires at the end of the day and it will be removed from the council agenda for November 2~. The department needs to wait through the February timeframe to determine il'bonding is possible. If anything is done now that restricts the ability to make bond payments, the department may have foreclosed opportunities that may not yet be nn the table or that staff has considered a priority. Mike spoke to council members and they are aware of the situation and a press release will be prepared. It is an unfortunate circumstance but it does not make sense to commit funds at this time. Staff can have further conversation with the Board at a later date. John Putnam asked if there were any plans to increase the frequency of financial updates from the city during this time and Mike said there were not. He added that the city will move forward with its "constrained" budget and will wait until after the first quarter to determine whether or not to release funding for the "action plan" budget. This process will continue through the year. Mike said he doubted that enough will be known by February to be able to bond at that time, as originally planned. Delani Wheeler added that the department's budget is based on the forecast revenues and is therefore following a conservative path. Mike assured Board members that they would be updated monthly as information becomes available. Responding to a question about how the Shanahans responded to this news, Mike said that city staff has been in contact with their attorneys, and he suspected the Shanahans would be disappointed. He added that the original intent was to buy only the second building site but the family wished to get full economic value of the land to distribute among family members and so insisted that the arrangement be all or none. Mike said that it would not be surprising to see a "For Sale" sign posted on the property although the family does value the land and may decide it can wait to see if the opportunity returns. Mike said that it may be six months out before the department can make any long-term commitments of any size. Bill Briggs asked if there was any earnest money involved. Ann Goodhart acknowledged that there was $25,000 nonrefundable earnest money, which comes from the acquisitions fund. She added that it is not a large amount compared to the purchase price. Mike said that it is better to pay that than to make a huge commitment for the future. AGF,NDA ITEM 4 -Matters from the Board None. AGENDA 1'CF,M 5 -Proposal from Colorado Division of Wildlife to continue study of cougars on OSMP property. Heather Swanson introduced Mat Alldredge, Colorado Division of Wildlife, to rcpori on the pilot study and also the proposed expanded study of cougars, Mat explained that because of the close proximity of cougars to human areas, Boulder is a particularly desirable study site. He gave a power point presentation and reported on the results of the pilot study. The primary objectives of the pilot study were to assess capture methods, evaluate the use of the GPS collars, review internal protocols, assess aversive conditioning, and evaluate local response to these activities. He explained some of the capture experiences and displayed a map showing the ranges and movements of several of the collared individual cougars. 7'he annual summary report of the pilot study is contained in Attachment B of the memo. Mat also explained various research topics of the long-term study: to collect natural history information, to study predator-prey relationships, to estimate the population, io evaluate cougar AGENllA ITEM 1 PAGE Z response to aversive conditioning and to evaluate cougar relocation. The study proposal was included as Attachment A in the memo. He said that, overall, the public supports the study. He acknowledged that there were some problems with the radio collars and hoped that switching to a different collar would improve data collection. He described activities that would occur on OSMP: capturing and recapturing cougars using bait and reports from hikers, capturing kittens together with mothers and possibly using OSYIP for release sites. Mat answered various questions from Board members regarding specific capture incidents, harvesting cats, use of hounds, aversive conditioning techniques used, genetic testing and information extracted from the radio collars. Kay Tauscher said she was impressed with the information gleaned from the study. Public Participation None. Return to Board & Staff Mike Patton said that council would be updated about the proposed long-term study. He asked Board members if they endorsed continuation of the study. Allyn Feinberg responded that the kind of information that was being generated was worthwhile. Ileather Swanson added that the study has been a positive experience for OSMP staff involved and has provided new information. Pat Billig asked how information would be relayed to staff from CROW. Mat said that if a cougar is captured, staff is contacted and annual reports, which are public record, are sent to Heather. He said he would he happy to update the Board on an annual basis. Heather also introduced }red Quatarone, CROW Wildlife Manager, who is familiar with the land system and OSMP staff. MOTION This was an informational item, no action was requested. AGENDA ITEM 6 -Monitoring in the Eldorado Mountain/Doudy Draw Trail Study Area. Steve Armstead reported that staff is finalizing monitoring plans for the Eldorado Mountain/Doudy Draw Trail Study Area (EM/DD TSA). Careful monitoring was directed by the City Council due to the sensitive landscape and its important natural resources. it is also important that staff discover how effective its strategies are for the new activities that will be allowed. Mark. Gershman described the goals of sustainable recreation monitoring and explained the objectives, methods and thresholds. Bill Briggs stressed the importance of being very clear with the public because they would be following staff's work. The credibility of the document depends on accuracy and believability. He thought the second bullet on page 17 was unnecessary. IIe questioned the validity of the assumption that if compliance for a small part of the trail is below 90% then the trail-wide compliance is also below 90%. Bill is concerned with the language and the impression it might make. Mark said that staff hopes to get enough samples to be able to make an appropriate estimate. Eric Stone encouraged Bill to assist staff with wording that would be a more accurate reflection of the study. Bill recommended eliminating the second bullet point and removing the last sentence of the first bullet. John Putnam said he felt that this language is shoehorned in on the policies and may be better contained in an appendix. Mark acknowledged the importance of having an explanation of how the monitoring results would be interpreted and used by staff. Pat Billig noted that the presence of rangers changes visitors' behavior and asked why their presence would have to be obvious. Mark said staff wanted to create a situation where visitors are successful in complying with regulations. Pat brought up a valuable concern from a member of the public about the potential of certain groups being displaced on some of the multi-use trails. She said that staff's response to that was not definitive. She thought it would be an important thing to track. AGENDA [TEM I PAGF. 3 John Putnam suggested that staff not lose track of the fact that this monitoring plan is something being done over and above what staff normally does to watch over conditions and activities on the trails, for example, tracking the physical sustainability of the trails. He suggested including some kind of reminder about these day-to-day activities. Mark said that a cover sheet may be a good place to include this information. John encouraged Mark to include the Web link. where members of the public can access all of this information. Will Keeley gave a power point presentation showing the wildlife monitoring accomplishments of 2007 and 2008. He described the target species, the study designs, the sampling methods used by staff and expected future products of'the monitoring. 1n 2008 baseline monitoring was completed. The next steps include analyzing baseline data and identifying high-use areas so staff can manage sensitive sites. Staff will have a better picture of what the natural range of variation is once the data are analyzed. Public Participation Ray Bridge, Friends of Boulder's Opcn Space (FOBOS), expressed his appreciation of staff's work and the public process. He was concerned that a lot of the information on wildlife monitoring was not in the plan and he thought it should be. The list of future products and possible adaptive management activities should be included. FOBOS agrees with the comment that multiple seasons of monitoring are needed. FOBOS is concerned that issues associated with plant monitoring and inventorying are not being addressed. There should be more information about the transect data. Regarding the problem of displacing users, it would be beneficial to know what percent of users are hikers, etc. and this information should be reported in order to be able to judge if multiple use is working. Anecdotal information shows that in the county, hikers have quit using some of the trails heavily used by bikers. Karen Hollweg, Boulder, suggested that staff develop some system to accurately assess the types of users on the trail in order to determine potential displacement. Ms. Hollweg pointed out that in the document staff does not respond to the question "What are the natural resource goals for the TSA?" She voiced her concern about the impact of recreation on habitat. She also pointed out that the document does not address how the data collected about wildlife will he used. Ms. Hollweg added that there was no mention of how the information gathered by the ESCO monitoring project was used to help staff when planning the Spring Brook and Goshawk Trails. Mary McQuiston, Boulder, asked staff to consider monitoring night use in the area. Richard Reynolds, Boulder, asked two questions: How can natural variation be understood when the area monitored has already been impacted`? Which impacts arc acceptable and which are unacceptable? Werner Neupert thanked staff for an impressive job at establishing baseline conditions. He stressed the importance of monitoring after the trails are in place and including an educational component for visitors. He said it is important to record what the acceptable limits are and asked how you establish when compliance is being met. Chris Morrison, Boulder Area Trails Coalition, said it is good to see the focus on impacts for wildlife and it should also include plants. IIe said that there are a couple of places on Goshawk Ridge trail where a short spur would lead to a very nice overlook. He recommended using signs to direct people. Mr. Morrison suggested plant enhancements for wildlife noting that the pond is not a natural feature. Regarding getting off trail, sometimes it is necessary for a user to step off the trail to give another user the right of way and he hoped that would be considered reasonable. AGENDA ITEM 1 PAGE 4 Mike Patton responded to several of the comments. He told Mr. Morrison that when monitoring the High Plains `frail, stepping off trail to yield to another visitor was acceptable and he also assured him that staff wilt find ways to determine if displacement is occurring. Regarding nighttime use, during the VMP staff proposed a ban on nighttime use and it was not seen as an issue of substance. Steve Armstead said that time-stamp counters will be able to collect some night use information. Mike said that staff will monitor weeds along the trail and will proceed to eradicate them when found. Staff expects to be able to make judgments concerning wildlife as monitoring information comes in. It is a difficult thing to do ahead of time. 'There are wildlife management options if impacts are detected. Will Keeley said that the data gathered in the control areas will help supplement the pre-trail information. In regard to nighttime use, he said that the presence of an owl near the frail could add to the decision to limit night use. Regarding vegetation monitoring, Eric Stone said that it is not an effective use of staff time to monitor weeds -they will be managed, not monitored. Chris Wanner said the RAM has provided the most comprehensive data about weeds systemwide. Ms. Iiollweg asked if any staff members knew how the ESCO study informed trail planning. Chris responded that it is coarse but does show trends by trail construction and use. Eric said that staff is using asystem-wide monitoring protocol. Ms. Hollweg said that she would like to see some statements in the plan about using that information to inform adaptive management decisions. Pat Billig said that it might be beneficial to convene a technical advisory group once or twice a year to interpret wildlife data and brainstorm with staff what. the data reveal and if modit?cation of plans is necessary. Will agreed that this is a difficult task but his recommendation would be to see the first year's data and compare it with the second year because with two years of similar confidence staff could extrapolate what the natural range of variation is. Will said he believed that there was enough technical expertise in the department to make appropriate assessments. He said that talking with some of the experts at CtJ would be invaluable but thought they would support the value of getting information over time. Will suggested another way to get their input would be to ask those experts to review an annual report. Pat agreed. John said that the discussions have been helpful and it would be important to capture the recommendations made. As for natural resource goals, including qualitative standards or goals, for example, not losing a certain nesting species, would give people an idea of what the department is aiming for. Bill Briggs asked Mr. Bridge if this was the kind of information he was looking for. Mr. Bridge said it was and that quantitative goals would also he nice to know, eventually. Return to Board & Staff 1-leather Swanson reminded the Board that the grassland portion of the TSA would be covered in detail in the Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan. ~~oTlo:v This was an informational item, no action was requested. ADJOURNMENT -The meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m. These minutes were prepared by Cecil Feniu. APPROVED BY•~ ! / - L, Allyn Feinberg Board Chair DATE AGENDA ITEM 1 PAGE $