During their July 2 regular meeting, Chaffee County Commissioners voted unanimously to endorse a document prepared as the Sustainable Alternative for Management of Browns Canyon National Monument. Commissioners had postponed endorsement action during their June 25 meeting, so they had more time to review the document prepared by Friends of Browns Canyon and a coalition of stakeholders.
The document was submitted June 20 to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the Browns Canyon National Monument Resource Management Plan. It follows a management option designating management zones for the monument, similar to that done for other recent national park designations such as Bears Ears.
Before their endorsement, the commissioners discussed their impressions of the document, prepared by a team including Joe Stone, who attended the commissioners meeting the prior week to present the material.
“I thought it was a well-done document,” said Chair Greg Felt. “The grazing areas, the wild and scenic designations…I don’t know how [federal officials] will take it, but it could carry a fair amount of weight.”
“They worked through some contentious issues,” said Commissioner Keith Baker. “I think it’s a good, balanced approach and with that, I move we endorse [it].”
“I had some concerns about a couple of trails – where people want to connect them,” but I second the motion said Commissioner Rusty Granzella. “We addressed our concerns about parking areas and such already. It’s in here.” Those concerns near Turret had involved creating a separate horse and boot hiking trails, but not allowing motorized trails.
Felt raised a question, asking if it was the hope that this will be adopted as the preferred alternative, or it was simply an initiative to influence the plan. Baker responded that it was a combined approach, skewing more toward the environmental and recreational aspects of the monument designation.
“I think calling it the ‘sustainable alternative’ is a good choice of words,” said Felt.
In other business, commissioners approved the release of phase two lots (lots 10-19) for the Broadview ROSI, being developed by Jeff and James Ince in the Chalk Creek Canyon just southwest of Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort.
Staff confirmed that the developers have met the requirements for purchase of water augmentation certificates and that Sangre de Cristo Electric has finished the installation of electric lines.
A proposal to disband the Unmanned Arial Systems (UAS) Advisory Board was brought forward by Director of General Administration Bob Christiansen, who has severed as the local government representative on that county board. He indicated that “the committee felt like there wasn’t enough substantial items to attend to – some of their activities could be handled through the drone club up north.”
Baker pointed out that from a legal standpoint, the county had passed an ordinance that created a UAS charter and tasked them with supervising certified operating areas. “We got those permits – the FAA is now dis-establishing those [operating areas]. So really they have no official mission. They felt the [drone] club and EDC [Economic Development Corporation] can more than adequately handle everything. Wendell agreed, with support from the county and EDC membership.”
Granzella asked if the advisory board should be dissolved, or just placed in hiatus or on a sabbatical. Baker responded if terminated and reinstated in the future, a new charter would need to be developed.
“I don’t know the resolution that created it. We could just suspend it, rather than dissolve it,” said Assistant County Attorney Daniel Tom.
In the end, Baker moved to prepare a resolution to dissolve the UAS Advisory Board, Granzella seconded and it passed unanimously.
Commissioners moved to go to executive session. The first executive session regarding the county’s participation in the opioid class action suit resulted in no decision requiring any votes.
The second executive session concerned a water case and Felt recused himself from the discussion and vote due to his position on the Upper Ark Water Board. Commissioners voted to disengage and drop it’s opposition to a minor water case on Cache Creek involving the Gold Basin Mine (case number 18CW11).
“Our water attorney described it as so minor and not worth our time,” said County Attorney Jennie Davis describing the decision afterward. “We were trying to get more information, but once we did and the water council indicated it was such a small usage, commissioners decided it wasn’t worth it to proceed.”