North London Mill Preservation Inc. received a wildlife habitat 1041 permit from Park County commissioners Nov. 19. The permit addresses mitigation of wildlife impacts for NoLo to operate an outdoor recreational facility on mining zoned land in Mosquito Gulch.
The facility will also need a conditional use permit from the county. That will be scheduled later for the county commissioners to hear. The planning commission has already recommended a CUP approval.
Currently, NoLo is operating with an outfitting company under a temporary outfitters and guide permit from United States Forest Service. NoLo has applied for a 10-year outfitters permit that is renewable.
NoLo’s website states they were pleased to host a four-day back country ski and snowboard trip that 100 persons attended in March.
The plan is to rebuild or rehabilitate five remaining buildings at the London Mill near Mosquito Pass, about eight miles west of Alma.
The restored buildings will be used as backcountry huts to house participants in the company’s various programs. They will also be rented to recreationalists when programs are not being held. Maximum occupancy will be 25 persons.
The outhouse will be converted into a vaulted toilet and the coal house will be a common bathroom and shower house with running water.
The mill’s office building was restored with money from several historical grantors including History Colorado. It will house 10 people, with three bedrooms, a living room, kitchen with running water and a full bathroom.
Summer programs include local history and archeology. Winter programs include introductory backcountry experiences, avalanche awareness and rescue certification.
During the summer months, access will be by a four-wheel-drive road that follows the north side of Mosquito Creek for one and one half miles up the mountain to the mill site.
Elevation at the mill site is 11,400 feet. The two parking lots are at 10,935 feet and are at the bottom of two avalanche chutes.
Winter access will be by skiing or snowshoeing across nine acres on the south side of Mosquito Creek to the site.
NoLo has a 50-year lease on several mining claims owned by MineWater, LLC. Activities will be on both private mining zoned land and the United State Forest Service, covering a total of 31 acres.
The 1041 hearing was held Nov. 12 with several USFS rangers and Colorado Park’s and Wildlife managers testifying about the animals and habitat that will be impacted by the project.
Both the federal and state agencies were most concerned about cumulative impacts from more people recreating in the area.
Animals of concern include bighorn sheep, white tailed ptarmigan, elk, moose, wolverine and lynx.
County Manager Tom Eisenman asked Mark Lamb, Colorado Parks and Wildlife area wildlife manager, if mitigation measures would be effective.
“It is very worrisome what is happening up there now. Add more people and we will need to think about capacity. The impacts will be great,” Lamb said.
U.S. Forest Service South Park District Ranger Josh Voorhis agreed with Lamb, saying if the number of people and impacts increased too much, the USFS would have to consider closing the area to the public.
Lamb and Voorhis were also concerned about impacts from NoLo blasting to control avalanches.
The county’s expert, Colorado Wildlife Science, was present to answer questions, but the wildlife impact report was not provided to the public.
The county staff report listed 10 mitigation conditions it said were from the report.
Commissioner Mike Brazell was absent from the hearing on Nov. 12 and did not participate in the deliberations on Nov. 19.
Commissioners Dick Elsner and Ray Douglas agreed that some of the mitigation would not apply to the permit because it concerns USFS property, not the private mining claims.
Elsner said most mitigation would need to be addressed in the USFS outfitters and guide permit or through the county conditional use permit process.
Mitigation approved included bear proof trash cans, no composting, no dogs, no disturbance to beaver dams and that avalanche control is coordinated with the local USFS and CPW.
Another mitigation strategy is to keep all activities on the five-acre building complex site from May 15 to June 30 to protect big horn sheep and elk production areas.
2021 budget hearing
Assistant Manager Cindy Gharst presented a 2021 proposed budget presentaiton. It focused on the four largest funds. They are general, public works, human services and sales tax funds.
All numbers were rounded by The Flume.
Fund balances totaled $16.4 million at the beginning of 2020 and are expected to increase by about $400,000 by the end of 2020. Total revenue and expenditures for 2020 are projected at $36 million and $35.7 respectively.
Taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR) limits property tax collection to last year’s amount plus additional amounts for growth and inflation.
The county will be able to collect about $371,000 more than in 2020, for a total of $9.96 million in property tax.
Sources of revenue other than property taxes include state and federal funding, grants, the county sales one percent tax, county fees, licenses, surcharges, permits and fines. These individual revenue sources must be used for specific funds and programs.
For 2021, revenue is expected to go up by $400,000 with expenditures increasing by $4 million. This brings all 14 funds’ total to $36.4 million in revenue and $39.7 million in expenditures for the 2021 proposed budget.
The total fund balances are projected to drop to $13.54 million by the end of 2021. About $3.3 million from fund balances will be needed to balance the 2021 budget.
The general fund covers most departments and elected officials offices. The sheriff and jail account for about $5 million of the $15.87 million in expenditures.
The county administration department costs about $1.78 million. Development services costs about $1.29 million and maintenance costs will run about $1.25 million.
Public works fund projects revenue is at $6.04 million, of which $5.21 million is from highway users taxes.
Total expenses are projected at $6.89 million, with salaries and benefits using about $3.52 million.
Payment of equipment debt will cost about $280,000 and capital expenditures are projected at another $880,000.
Human Services is mostly funded by state and federal programs. Total expenditures are projected at $6.87 million; with $6.95 million in revenue.
The food assistance program is expended to increase by a million dollars to $3.5 million in 2021.
The sales tax fund continues to collect more sales tax than the previous year. This year that is partly due to the requirement that internet sales charge sales tax.
Revenue is projected at $1.69 million with expenditures of $3.38 million. Sales tax revenue can only be spent on outdoor recreation, open space, water resources and wildlife resources.
Conservation easements on agriculture producing ranches tying the water to the land and stream restorations increasing water quality and fish habitat account for a large portion of the expenditures.
A million dollars is also set aside to defend against a similar water court case to the one that the county helped win in the late 1990s. It would have sent more water to the Front Range and drained wells of ranches and residential homes in South Park.
Gharst said the 2021 budget may change slightly before adoption on Dec. 17.