CITIZEN ACTION: Final Wildlife Management Plan to Go to City Council

Longmont City staff have completed a final draft of the Wildlife Management Plan (WMP) update. This draft can be read here. This final WMP will be voted on for approval by City Council on Tuesday, September 24th.

Stand with Our St. Vrain Creek is pleased that staff has revised the WMP to provide further protections to riparian areas by adopting Fort Collins’ criteria for allowing variances to the current 150-foot riparian conservation buffer. While the WMP is not regulation, the language in the WMP will be used to inform the protections for wildlife and habitat and riparian and stream protections within Longmont’s Land Development Code.

We strongly urge you to write to City Council urging them to approve the WMP and are asking for people to show up wearing green to the City Council meeting on 9/24 at 7pm to show their support for the revised WMP. 

Please follow and like us:

ACTION ALERT: Comments Needed on Left Hand Brewing’s Cultural Event Center

Lefthand Brewing Company has put in their development application for a “cultural event center” adjacent to St. Vrain Creek. (Supporting documents for the application can be found here.) This facility is planned to consist of a beer garden and temporary stage that will be designed to accommodate up to, but not limited to, 1,500 people per event. Though this development is not planned to encroach upon the 150 foot riparian conservation buffer, Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek is concerned about the noise pollution resulting from this facility.
The acoustic study done for the proposal anticipates that concerts at the venue will likely be 95 DBA at the back of the audience, or occasionally 100 DBA for larger events. This is based on volume readings done at Lefthand Brewing concerts currently held at Roosevelt Park. While sound tapers off the farther away from the source, it is anticipated that the noise from the facility could be as high as 77 DBA for residences across St. Vrain Creek to the south. Per Lefthand Brewing’s own acoustic study, 77 DBA is louder than a large dog barking 50 feet away. Lefthand has not provided any proposed mitigation of this noise pollution.
Water carries sound and, with most of the vegetation being removed from the river channel as part of the Resilient St. Vrain flood mitigation project, the noise pollution from the unspecified number of events at Lefthand’s proposed event center each week will carry up and downstream. While residents nearby are likely to be annoyed, such noise pollution could be much more damaging to wildlife using the river corridor. Wildlife tends to move at night, when it’s most likely that concerts will be happening. That means that the area around this new facility could become a bottleneck along a proven wildlife movement corridor. For resident animals, such as birds, studies have shown that noise pollution increases stress levels and shortens lives.
As mentioned, Lefthand has not provided any proposed mitigation of their noise pollution. We expect they will try to get new code requirements instituted that will allow a higher threshold for noise pollution. The Longmont municipal code currently restricts noise in residential areas to 55 DBA during the day and 50 DBA at night. Because the decibel scale is logarithmic rather than linear, this means that 77 DBA is over 4 times as loud as 50 DBA.
Please send your comments to Brien Schumacher at Brien.Schumacher@longmontcolorado.gov, the Longmont City Planner assigned to this project and tell him that Lefthand Brewing must mitigate the noise from their events rather than changing the rules to suit them.
Please follow and like us:

Draft Wildlife Management Plan Update

Longmont City staff have completed a draft of the Wildlife Management Plan update. This draft can be read here.

Because the Wildlife Management Plan directly informs the protections for wildlife and habitat and riparian and stream protections within Longmont’s Land Development Code, it is crucial that the Wildlife Management Plan update “get it right.” Therefore, we’re asking that the following changes be made before it is adopted by Council. Our full comments can be found here.

We strongly urge you to consider writing to City Council in support of the below recommendations and/or to speak during public invited to be heard when the Wildlife Management Plan update is scheduled to be discussed at an upcoming city council meeting. We’ll announce when that is as soon as we hear when that will be.

Table 1. Suggested Changes to the Draft Action Table
 
Draft Action from Wildlife Management Plan Suggested Change Rationale for change
1.1.c/2.1.g For any project in which the City is the applicant/proponent (e.g., road or utility crossings of streams, construction of greenway trails), design the project to avoid or minimize habitat loss to the extent practicable, even if such loss could be permitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (pages 95 and 97 of WMP) Currently the action type for this recommendation is BMP (best management practice).

 

We recommend codifying this language by placing it into the Land Development Code.

We believe the City of Longmont should be held to the same standard as private developers.
5.2.a. Adopt a BMP for City lands that establishes a minimum setback of 150 feet and a preferred (where practicable) setback of 200 feet or greater for trails, roads, and other facilities within or along riparian corridors, including ditches that support riparian trees and shrubs. Exceptions may include crossing points of bridges and portions of soft-surface, pedestrian-only “nature trails” that may approach more closely in limited areas for wildlife viewing. Lighting shall generally be discouraged on trails near riparian areas or other high-quality habitat areas. However, if there is an expressed community need for lighting, the city should install lighting that meets the community’s needs while also being as “wildlife friendly” as is feasible given the trail location and project budget. (page 112 of WMP) 5.2.a. Adopt a BMP for City lands that establishes a minimum setback of 150 feet and a preferred (where practicable) setback of 200 feet or greater for trails, roads, and other facilities within or along riparian corridors, including ditches that support riparian trees and shrubs. Exceptions may include crossing points of bridges and portions of soft-surface, pedestrian-only “nature trails” that may approach more closely in limited areas for wildlife viewing. Lighting shall generally be discouraged on trails near riparian areas or other high-quality habitat areas. However, if there is an expressed community need for lighting, the city should install lighting that meets the community’s needs while also being as “wildlife friendly” as is feasible given the trail location and project budget. Artificial lighting disrupts animals’ breeding and foraging behaviors, increases the risk of predation, impedes navigation and migration patterns, and may even lead directly to death (some evidence suggests artificial lighting may increase mammalian roadkill; insects become disoriented by lights and may die in light fixtures). Because of this, artificial lights should not be installed near our wildlife habitats.
5.2.d. As funds and staff resources allow, gather baseline data on wildlife presence and use throughout Longmont. This may include, but is not limited to, species inventories, presence/absence surveys, habitat suitability assessments, citizen science BMPs, pre- and post-project monitoring, etc. With such foundational data, the City will better understand wildlife and habitat conditions prior to impacts by a project or a natural disaster and will be able to use these conditions as a reference or baseline for restoration. (page 113 of WMP) 5.2.d. As funds and staff resources allow, gather baseline data on wildlife presence and use throughout Longmont. This may include, but is not limited to, species inventories, presence/absence surveys, habitat suitability assessments, citizen science BMPs, pre- and post-project monitoring, etc. With such foundational data, the City will better understand wildlife and habitat conditions prior to impacts by a project or a natural disaster and will be able to use these conditions as a reference or baseline for restoration. Baseline data are crucial to understanding what wildlife are in the city, where they are, and when they are present. Without these data it is difficult if not impossible to manage and protect Longmont’s wildlife. Therefore, we recommend prioritizing such data collection and striking the phrase “As funds and staff resources allow.”
5.2.e. As funds and staff resources allow, map and assess riparian corridors throughout the Longmont area to define “reaches” based on similar vegetative structure and composition (and thus wildlife habitat quality). These designations can be used to guide restoration projects or inform the approval of and requirements for variance requests. (page 113 of WMP) 5.2.e. As funds and staff resources allow, map and assess riparian corridors throughout the Longmont area to define “reaches” based on similar vegetative structure and composition (and thus wildlife habitat quality). These designations can be used to guide restoration projects or inform the approval of and requirements for variance requests. As stated above for action item 5.2.e., baseline data collection should be prioritized. Therefore, we recommend striking the words “As funds and staff resources allow.”

 

We also recommend striking the words “or inform the approval of and requirements for variance requests.” Even if one “reach” of a riparian corridor contains poor wildlife habitat, it may still connect two higher quality wildlife habitats upstream and downstream to maintain a functioning wildlife movement corridor. Allowing variances within such areas may fragment wildlife habitat by destroying the movement corridor. This could lead to local extirpation or even extinction.

5.3.b. Create a new staff position of Environmental Planner. This individual would be responsible for attending permit hearings, reviewing applications, and coordinating with Natural Resources staff to ensure field verifications of reported conditions are performed as needed. (page 115 of WMP) We recommend that the Environmental Planner position report to the Natural Resources Director, but be housed within the Planning Department. Having the Environmental planner report to Natural Resources, but having them be housed with Planning will allow better communication across departments. The Environmental Planner position is a cross-departmental position by nature.
5.3.c. Prepare a “toolkit” of mitigation strategies (specifically wildlife avoidance and habitat enhancement and restoration techniques) that can be incorporated into the Longmont Development Code Administrative Manual. This will provide developers with basic strategies that can be implemented to fulfill habitat and species conservation requirements. The existence of this toolkit will not absolve the developer of the requirement to retain a qualified individual to prepare the Species or Habitat Conservation Plan. (page 115 of the WMP) A link to the Development Code Administrative Manual should be provided in the Land Development Code. Incorporating the Development Code Administrative Manual by reference in the Land Development Code rather than including the entire manual within the text of the Land Development Code saves time on updating the code, but this manual should be easily available online on the city’s website (and the LDC online should include a link to it) so that developers/the public can find and review it. This increases transparency and will help facilitate compliance.
5.5.h. Consider expanding the current requirement for a Species or Habitat Protection Plan by establishing a process by which a developer is required to pay a wildlife or habitat mitigation fee to the City for loss of important habitats or wildlife that cannot reasonably be avoided by the proposed development. The purpose of the fee would be to assist the City in acquiring new or maintaining existing habitats that represent the same type of wildlife use. Examples include native plant communities, wetlands, riparian corridors, and areas of mature trees (if desirable species). (page 118 of the WMP) This recommendation should be removed. If a development cannot avoid the loss of important wildlife or habitats, it should be rejected outright. This is a loophole by which a developer can pay a fee and buy their way out of ensuring their development does not negatively impact habitat and wildlife. No amount of money paid can get those habitats and/or wildlife back.
Table 2. Rationale for Amendatory Language Changes
Location of change Change Reason
15.05.02(F)(3) Variances from the Setback Standards Removal of increased setback standards and reduced setback standards and replacement with tweaked standards from Fort Collins’ Land Development Code

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addition of Public Works and Natural Resources as an advisor to city council in its decision regarding a reduced setback request.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addition of a 2/3 vote of city council being needed to approve a reduced setback request.

On May 20, 2019, Stand provided staff and council with a document advocating for the update of the criteria for a reduced variance as the current criteria are vague, ambiguous, and set a low bar for developers to obtain approval to build within the 150 foot setback. Despite this, the same poor language has been kept in the Wildlife Management Plan. This is the primary reason we believe council should go with option 2 so that Fort Collins’ more robust language can be incorporated into our code.

 

Despite the fact that the recommendation to have Public Works and Natural Resources involved in riparian setback variance applications was included in the draft action table (5.3.a. on page 115 of the WMP), they were left out of the revised amendatory language in 15.05.020 on page 124 of the WMP.

 

Despite the recommendation in the draft action table (5.5.l on page 119 of the WMP) that a 2/3 majority of city council approve a reduced setback request, this was left out of the revised amendatory language in 15.05.020 on page 124 of the WMP.

15.05.030(E) Habitat and Species Database Revision of the sentence “Any site-specific studies undertaken by the applicant and accepted by the city shall be used in place of any of the cited maps or data” so that site-specific studies may be used “in conjunction” with cited maps or data.

 

Removal of the words “Colorado Division of Wildlife” and the use of “Colorado Parks and Wildlife” in their place.

The city has previously accepted poor quality site-specific studies undertaken by the applicant in lieu of studies using data provided by reputable sources such as Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This shores up that loophole.

 

 

This section contains several places where the old name of Colorado Parks and Wildlife is still used. Replacing Colorado Division of Wildlife with Colorado Parks and Wildlife is consistent with current terminology and with revisions made later in the amendatory language cited in the WMP.

15.05.030(F) Review Procedures Removal of the words “For applications referred to it”. The sentence would instead begin “Colorado Parks and Wildlife…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addition of the words “Boulder County Parks and Open Space,” after the words “City of Longmont Public Works and Natural Resource Department.”

As stated in our May 20, 2019 document, the review procedures have already established that these measures shall apply accordingly, necessitating Agency involvement. This language was in the previous Land Development Code and likely was simply copied and pasted so this is a simple fix.

 

Boulder County Parks and Open Space is another qualified Agency that we believe should specifically be called out in the amendatory language as an Agency that may review development applications.

15.05.030(H)(2) Species or Habitat Conservation Plans Plan Content Removal of everything in the opening paragraph after the first sentence:

 

15.05.030 H(2) Plan Content. A conservation plan shall include the following information, at a minimum, and as applicable. The director may waive specific requirements due to the development’s location, previous use of the site, the size and potential impact of the development, the absence of particular species on a site, the prohibition of a reasonable use of the site, and other relevant factors

 

This is a potential loophole that could be exploited to allow an applicant not to complete a species or habitat conservation plan.
15.10.020 ‐ All Other Terms Defined Add “Boulder County Species of Special Concern” under the list for the definition of “Important Plant or Wildlife Species” The list of Boulder County Species of Special Concern is a useful reference that should be able to be consulted for those interested in what species are considered important plant or wildlife species.

 

Please follow and like us:

Clean Up, Green Up Longmont!

Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek is organizing a group to participate in Longmont’s annual Clean Up, Green Up celebration! This year, the Clean Up, Green Up kickoff is Saturday, April 6th at 7:30am at 7 S. Sunset Street in Longmont. As part of the kickoff, the City of Longmont will be providing volunteers with free coffee, juice, and donuts!

Due to the reseeding going on along the St. Vrain, Stand will be cleaning along Lefthand Creek. If interested in helping out, please email standwithstvraincreek@gmail.com.

All volunteers should wear weather-appropriate clothes and sturdy shoes as well as bring their own work gloves.

thumbnail of Clean up flyer

Please follow and like us:

The Remarkable Riparian Zone: What’s Happening With Our St. Vrain Greenway? Presentation

On Wednesday, February 27th, Longmont Political Revolution is sponsoring a presentation at the Longmont Public Library featuring Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek and Front Range Nesting Bald Eagle Studies.

Stand’s half of the presentation, titled “The Remarkable Riparian Zone: What’s Happening With Our St. Vrain Greenway?” will explain why a functioning riparian zone is crucial to a healthy river system and how it can help mitigate future floods. It will also detail some of the goings-on regarding the St. Vrain river corridor, including current construction.

Join us from 6:30-8:30pm in the A/B meeting room at the Longmont library (409 4th Ave, Longmont, CO 80501).

thumbnail of Longmont Public Forum presentation flyer

Please follow and like us:

Action Item: Wildlife Management Plan Update Public Meeting

Longmont’s Natural Resources Department is holding its first public meeting open house regarding the update to the City’s Wildlife Management Plan (WMP). The WMP was first adopted in 2006 and it’s due for an update.

This first meeting will focus on Land Development Code changes with regard to the new prairie dog policy, the work being done with the Resilient St. Vrain flood mitigation project, and riparian setbacks. Other meetings will follow.

We ask that you please attend this meeting if you are able. This meeting will help inform updates to the Land Development Code regarding the 150-foot riparian setback and how Longmont deals with wildlife in general.

The meeting will be held at the Sunset Campus (7 S. Sunset Street, Longmont, CO) on Thursday, March 7 from 6-8pm. Snacks will be provided.

If you need translation services or other special accommodations, contact 303-651-8416 or service-works@longmontcolorado.gov

For any questions, contact Dan Wolford at 303-774-4691 or dan.wolford@longmontcolorado.gov

thumbnail of WMPU First Meeting Flyer

Please follow and like us:

Advisory Panel Meeting to Discuss Future Development of St. Vrain River Corridor

A second meeting of an advisory panel to continue discussion of future development of the St. Vrain river corridor to meet goals B3 and B4 of the Longmont City Council’s workplan has been scheduled for Friday, February 15th from 8:30am to 11:30am at the Longmont Museum. The session is open to the public as observers and we are asking Longmont residents to attend if their schedule allows so that the process is as transparent as possible.

The Longmont City Council developed a workplan (available here) in 2018 to direct their actions and help them meet their goals for the city. Section B of the workplan contains the City Council’s goals for “Longmont’s places”:

In 20 years, Longmont will have a developed Main Street from Pike Road to Highway 66 and a river corridor that stretches from the sugar mill to the fairgrounds as a vibrant economic, residential, cultural and entertainment epicenter that is sustainable and respects the natural environment. This area will:
 Goal B1: Have a diverse housing stock with higher densities and access to high quality public transportation, food and jobs
 Goal B2: Protect and respect our natural public amenities as part of the development process
 Goal B3: Become a nationally recognized geographic center of science, technology, engineering, education, arts, and entrepreneurism
 Goal B4: Bring together private industry, local government, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education as well as the St. Vrain Valley School District to ensure the highest quality, best prepared workforce in the western United States

thumbnail of Advisory Panel Notes 011119
January 11 2019 first session of advisory panel notes.

On Friday, January 11th, City Council convened the first meeting of the advisory panel. The notes to the left were compiled from that meeting (click on picture to to see the full notes).

Although the first meeting was also open to the public, it wasn’t publicized very well. Therefore, Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek is seeking to publicize the second meeting to a wider audience. The agenda for the second meeting is below (click on the picture to view the full agenda).

 

thumbnail of Agenda Advisory Panel 021519
Agenda for the February 15th advisory panel meeting.

Additional supporting documentation for the panel meeting is below:

thumbnail of svbp_study_area
St. Vrain Blueprint study area map.

thumbnail of overview1

Please follow and like us: