For the first time in six years, Park County will partner with Colorado Parks and Wildlife on a habitat improvement project. Six years ago, it was trout habitat and stream improvements in the Dream Stream between Spinney and Eleven Mile Reservoirs.

This year it will be Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep winter habitat adjacent to Forest Ridge subdivision in the Deer Creek headwaters. It’s on the northeast side of County Road 43 in the northeast corner of the county.

The project is one of three the commissioners approved using sales tax revenue from the Land and Water Trust Fund Aug. 31.

The sheep habitat improvement partnership also includes the United States Forest Service who owns the property. Together the two completed Phase 1 of the project in 2016 and 2017 by reducing conifer stands on 48 acres. Sheep prefer aspen and shrubs in rocky areas.

The area south of the proposed project was prime sheep habitat before Forest Ridge was approved in the mid-1990s.  This project’s second goal is to reduce bighorn sheep and human conflicts in the area.

The application states the project will treat 120 acres of conifer stands that are encroaching on aspen and shrubs, which is preferred bighorn sheep habitat.

Habitat loss is the greatest threat to wildlife in Colorado and bighorn sheep are a sensitive species in Colorado according to a letter from Brian Banks, USFS District Ranger.  

As such, Banks states, the sheep warrant special consideration in habitat planning and management. This project will create better winter habitat for the sheep.

The LWTF advisory board unanimously recommended approval with CPW Area Wildlife Manager Mark Lamb abstaining from the vote.

The total project cost is $122,939. The LWTF will contribute $107,500 to the project. CPW will contribute $5,000 cash and $1,684 in-kind services. The USFS will contribute $7,500 cash and $1,505 in-kind services.

Dam removal engineering

The second project approved is also on USFS land. It is phase 2 of a Coalition for the Upper South Platte three phased project to remove the Lake George dam that is no longer being used to store Colorado Springs Utility water rights.

It was built in the 1950’s by Colorado Springs Utility.  The utility moved their diversion rights elsewhere and in the process of transferring ownership to the USFS.

The USFS will be able to help fund dam removal once it has ownership.

This dam is the only fish impediment between Eleven Mile Reservoir and Cheeseman Reservoir, according to CPW Aquatic Biologist Tyler Swarr.

Habitat for all three stages of a trout’s life is in that area. Removing the dam and restoring the stream above and below the dam will increase habitat quality as well as water quality in the area.

Besides LWTF, CUSP, USFS and CSU, other partners for the project are CPW, South Platte Enhancement Board and Trout Unlimited. Denver Water sent a letter of support stating they look forward to collaboration as the project continues. DW owns both of the referenced reservoirs.

This phase two will finish the engineering drawings and being funded by the LWTF at $138,583 and the USFS South Park Ranger District at $70,000, with $40,000 of the $70,000 from South Platte Enhancement board.  

In-kind funding is being contributed by CUSP for $3,541 in salaries and USFS in the amount of $52,738 including obtaining the NEPA permit.

London Mill Stabilization engineering

The third project is money for engineering work needed to stabilize the London Mill.

This is part of a greater project of restoring the London Mill area and buildings on site for backcountry huts, summer and winter backcountry activities, including archeological classes, mining history and avalanche training.

Besides the LWTF, other funders include Colorado Historical Fund, South Park National Heritage Area and Gates Foundation.

MineWater Finance, LLC owns the land and North London Mill Preservation, Inc. is leasing the site and acquiring funds to restore what buildings remained for use as backcountry huts and NoLo’s programs.

The mill stabilization is the third project funded by LWTF, History Colorado and the Gates Foundation. The first project was building a bridge across North Mosquito Creek for about $18,000.  

The second is restoring the Mill’s office to use as a rental back country hut. Mechanicals and interiors were funded by the LWTF for about $78,000 to date and authorized up to $109,000.

Matching funds of $135,000 are from three foundations.

The exteriors of the office/backcountry hut were restored by historical preservation grants.

This third project, stablizing the mill, is funded mostly through a $125,000 grant from Colorado Division of Mining Reclamation and Safety.

The commissioners approved $10,980 in LWTF to cover engineering for the project. NoLo will contribute $1,220 for engineering and in kind of $3,000.

The design and construction documents were funded by History Colorado State Historical Fund and The Gates Family Foundation.

The mill will be a partially open pavilion with recreational and interpretive activities and education.  The second floor could be rented for overnight stays and/or meetings.

Executive session

An executive session on pending valuation appeals was held for two reasons. 1. Determine positions and strategy; instruct negotiators. 2. Receive legal advice on specific legal questions.

Consent Agenda

The consent agenda had four items, but none were attached to the agenda.  Normally, it consists of the minutes needing approval and the voucher summary.

This week included two additional items with no discussion or explanation. They were “Approval of award to Bailey Cleaning Services” and “Approval…. to ARPA Management Services.”

Vouchers in the amount of $231,500 were approved. Numbers were rounded by The Flume.

The general fund spent $97,500 and public works spent $63,000.

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