Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The question of who should manage (and who should pay the costs) for the Frantz Lake and Sands Lake State Wildlife Areas is central to both locals and visitors alike.  Of the four items on the Salida City Council work session on Dec. 6, Parks and Recreation Director Mike “Diesel” Post’s presentation generated much back and forth discussion and requests for more information.

Payton Bondurant from Lakewood, Colorado fishes with her Grandmother at Lake Frantz at the 2019 Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited Fourth of July Kids Fishing Derby. Photo By Taylor Sumners

In 2019, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) issued a directive that their lands (including Franz Lake in Salida) are to be managed by the CPW specifically for the benefit of wildlife. The result meant that all people who use state wildlife land must possess a hunting or fishing license in order to be on CPW land.

With high community use of Franz Lake and nearby Sand Lake for hiking, picnics and other non-wildlife related uses, this placed an unexpected burden on the community.

Since then, city and local CPW staff have been exploring options.  While CPW will continue to own these lands, if management stays with CPW, they will be forced to issue tickets to users who do not possess a license geared to their primary focus on wildlife.

On the other hand, if management shifts to the City of Salida, it poses both benefits and costs to Salidans, many of which are not yet fully known.  Parks and Recreation Director Post outlined some of the key line items, notably the ongoing costs of hiring of two additional employees plus one-time costs for equipment.

While relatively small, these costs were not included in the 2022 budget.  Council members discussed possible ways to recover some of the costs, including a potential increase to the Occupational Lodging Tax (OLT), which is not yet at its approved maximum.

A larger potential issue concerned known ongoing, but perhaps deferred maintenance of the grounds.  The lands would be transferred in an “as-is” condition, so Post was directed to perform due diligence on these items so they could be planned for.

Councilperson Dominique Naccarato called upon her prior experience in related areas and asked how the city might need to protect wildlife as additional users (and their pets) continue to visit the area.  Naccarato also asked about the need for noxious weed control on both bodies of water.  It was learned that CPW works with “the county” on this, but no further details were revealed.

Other council members asked about the possibility of engaging the public as volunteers to work alongside city staff and other partners to keep up the grounds.  The example of the Chaffee County Rec Adopters program was brought up as one idea as well as Salida-area Parks, Open-space and Trails (SPOT).  With more questions asked than were answered, council members still felt support for the city taking on the management and providing an amenity to its residents and visitors.  Further information will be upcoming at a future Council meeting before any decisions are made.

In other business, council members voiced support for adding four holidays to the city schedule, subject to their final approval.  Council members also expressed their preferences for serving on various boards in 2022, like the Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST) and the Colorado Housing Authority (CHA).  Final assignments for these and others will be made in early 2022.

The meeting concluded with an annual orientation for new and returning Council members, given by City Attorney Nina Williams.  Her presentation provided a refresher on the nuances of open meetings law, avoiding conflicts of interest, and the meanings and rules for “quasi-judicial” matters (like liquor board hearings).