D-E NCA Advisory Council February Minutes

D-E NCA Advisory Council Minutes

February 2, 2011

 The following members of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area Advisory Board attended the Feb. 2 meeting, held at the Mesa County Courthouse Annex.
Those attending:
• William (Bill) Harris of Montrose
• Oscar Massey of Whitewater
• Katie Steele of Grand Junction
• Tamera Minnick of Grand Junction
• Neil “Mike” Wilson of Eckert
• Joe Neuhof of Grand Junction
Absent:
• Terry Kimber of Delta
• Jason Beason of Paonia
• Jan McCracken of Delta
• Steve Acquafresca  of Grand Junction

BLM staff attending: Katie Stevens, Andy Windsor, Ben Blom, Brodie Farquhar, Matt McGrath
Mesa State College’s Resources & Land Policy Institute (NRLPI) represented by political science faculty Justin Gollub and Tim Casey.

Meeting called into order 3 p.m.

Stevens welcomed Advisory Council members. Presence of a quorum was noted.

Election of Officers
Massey nominated Acquafresca of Grand Junction as chairman, seconded by Harris, but no vote was held. Harris expressed interest in vice-chair position. Brief discussion and quick consensus that with so many missing members of the Advisory Council, no one was comfortable with electing officers at this meeting. Group decision to hold off on electing a chairperson and vice-chair until the March meeting.

Recreation Overview
Powerpoint presentation by Andy Windsor, D-E NCA recreation planner, opened by explaining that the BLM makes assumptions about the beneficial outcomes of recreation. Outcomes fall into three, broad categories:
• personal
• community (social, economic and political) and
• environmental

Windsor: Outcomes underlie key decisions made by recreation planners. Asked whether NCA should be managed as:
• Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) -- long-term commitment to protect ‘beneficial outcomes,” with specific beneficial outcomes, or
• Extensive Recreation Management Area (ERMA) -- only protects recreational activities, but no long-term commitment is made to protect ‘beneficial outcomes,’ or
• No recreation management area designation?

Discussion with Advisory Council members:
Both the SRMA and ERMA approach would use adaptive management for changing circumstances, end results different.
SRMA results measured on specific beneficial outcomes achieved.
ERMA results measured onopportunities to participate in recreation activities.
ERMA recreation settings allowed to change over time – could displace some recreationists.
SRMA has long-term commitment to protect beneficial outcomes -- ensure management of the recreation setting. Activities compliment and promote beneficial outcomes.

Windsor: If we consider managing for beneficial outcomes, what do we need to know?
Questions:
• Who are the recreationists?
• Why do they recreate?
• What do they want protected?

Mesa College’s Natural Resources & Land Policy Institute (NRLPI) tried to answer those questions.
Used on-site and mailed-in recreationist surveys and focus groups. Focused on the desired outcome for D-E NCA recreationists.

Survey process
NRLPI’s Justin Gollob explained the survey process. Mesa State students were assigned to key access or intercept points into various zones of the D-E NCA area:
Zone 1 is the Gunnison Bluffs or Hunting Grounds area, which stretches from US Highway 50 to the bluffs above the Gunnison River on the north side.
Zone 2 is the river corridor and riparian area along the Gunnison and the riparian corridor along Escalante Creek, up to the potholes.
Zone 3 is the area on the west side of the NCA from US Highway 141 to the edge of the Wilderness area and from the bluffs above the river on the south to Divide Road.
Zone 4 is the designated Wilderness area itself in the NCA.
Zone 5 is the rest of the NCA, which includes the area of Wagon Park and the eastern side of the NCA around Sawmill Mesa, including Escalante Canyon.

Survey Protocol: Students approached groups of people, explained that they were doing a survey, then made a random selection within that group. Random selection helped avoid having strongest personalities dominate, and thus skew the survey.
Surveys taken in two steps:
• Single page survey instrument in the field (gathered basic information),
• Survey-taker asked if he or she willing to receive a multi-page survey instrument at home. Participants received several reminders to fill and return the form.

Results: Mesa State students gathered 261 on-site survey instruments and 76 multi-page surveys later mailed in to NRLPI.

 Series of focus group sessions (informal conversations with recreation users and other interested parties) held September and October 2010. Meetings alternated between Grand Junction and Delta.

D-E NCA focus group meetings
ZoneCity Date      Attendees
Zone 1Grand Junction9/29/1012
Zone 2Delta9/22/1012
Zone 3Grand Junction9/27/1022
Zone 4Grand Junction10/4/1028
Zone 4Delta10/6/1014
Zone 5Delta9/29/1032

All Grand Junction focus group meetings were held at the Mesa County Courthouse Annex.
All Delta focus group meetings were held at the Delta-Montrose Technical College.
 
Protocol: Open-ended questions and i-clicker participant polling, generating both quantitative and qualitative data. ( i-clicker is a hand-held device. Allows survey participant to answer Yes/No questions or multiple-choice.)
NRLPI’s Tim Casey explained that the i-clicker technology allows focus group participants to answer anonymously. No pressure to follow opinion leader or the crowd.

Discussion: Different kinds of recreationists showed up at different survey intercept points for the zones. Different kinds of interest groups showed up at different focus group meetings.
Windsor : Zones defined to facilitate conversations about the NCA. For the purpose of recreation planning, zones may or may not be applicable.
Massey: Noted there were two Zone 5’s on the map.
Casey:  Acknowledged that Wagon Park is far away from Escalante Creek and Sawmill Mesa, but that on a broad-brush scale, they were roughly similar.
Windsor: On-site surveys got zip codes. 92 percent from Colorado, 61 percent from Delta, Mesa and Montrose counties.

Findings
Gollub: Outcomes of recreation are more important than the mode of recreation. A single mode of recreation can result in a wide array of outcomes. For example, recreation mode of downhill skiing can provide a wide range of outcomes --  from seeking quite and being close to Nature, to seeking out risk and personal challenge.
Gollub:  data bundles can be determined for individuals – their answers can be grouped or bundled together in various niches. Of the many dozens of questions and the hundreds of possible answers and combination of answers, Gollub and Casey have created seven “niche bundles” in which recreationists fit to differing degrees. Those bundles include:
• Quite/Contemplative
• Health & Well-Being
• Risk-Taking and Skills Challenge
• Affiliation and Social Cohesion
• Closer to Nature
• Heritage Appreciation
• Work where I can play more outdoors

Overall distribution of the bundles in the NCA:
 
Results of the survey: Predominately two types of visitors looking for different types of outcomes, Quiet Contemplative and Affiliation and Social Cohesion.
1. Quiet Contemplative – Values experiences of enjoying solitude and contemplative time.  Value reduced stress, time alone, and preservation of unique landscapes.
2. Affiliation and Social Cohesion – Values experiences of enjoying time with family and friends, recreating with others.  Value stronger ties with family and friends, greater involvement in recreation and other land use decisions, and improved community ownership of recreation resources.
Important issues
Focus groups met about both wilderness and non-wilderness zones.
Casey: For members of the non-wilderness focus groups, following issues most important:
• Trails
• New Routes
• Recreation Opportunity
• Road Closures
• Community Trails Connection
• Travel Management
• Permits
• Multi-Use
• Private property rights
• Water rights and diversions
• Hunting
• Scenic Views
Discussion: Travel issues are dominant in the minds of Delta and Grand Junction community members. Casey: If you don’t get travel management right, you’re going to hear about it.

  
Wilderness Overview
Powerpoint Presentation
BLM’s Matt McGrath, outdoor recreation planner outlined wilderness characteristics:
• Untrammeled
• Natural
• Undeveloped
• Solitude or primitive recreation
• Unique

McGrath: a single decision can impact more than one quality. For example, a program to get rid of tamarisk would impact the natural, undeveloped aspects of wildernss.

Casey:  Wilderness discussions can quickly come up with conflicting tradeoffs.
Example: Focus groups in Delta and Grand Junction were told that there is a metal gate in the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness. Should it be removed?
Casey: Delta focus groups felt the gate should be left alone, which was their definition of “untrammeled.” Grand Junction focus groups felt the gate should be removed so as to enhance other wilderness values – go ahead and “trammel” the wilderness, so it can appear to be more “natural” later on.
Casey: Delta focus groups’ dominant values were that they sought unrestricted activity, that they and the NCA “should be left alone.” In contrast. Grand Junction focus groups’ dominant value was that the wilderness area should be “natural.”
Steele: Thanked Gollub and Casey for their work and anticipated their final reports.
Other business
Stevens noted that there wasn’t time at this meeting to address Wild and Scenic Rivers, but it will be addressed at the March meeting.
Steele said she’s interested in learning more about Travel Management in DENCA.
Harris asked whether there would be new ATV trails in the future?
Harris suggested need for Advisory Council to have a history/cultural field trip along the river and in the Hunting Grounds.
A gold panning advocate suggested that the Advisory Council come see what gold panning is like, as another field trip.

After discussions with Advisory Council members, Stevens said sub-groups could be formed to focus in on specific issues and topics. With one Advisory Council member per sub-group, subject experts could be tapped to serve in sub-groups and submit reports and research to the entire Advisory Council. At the March meeting, sub-group assignments will be made to explore Travel Management, Wild and Scenic Rivers, Wilderness, Cultural and Recreation topics.

The next meeting is set for 3-6 p.m., March 2, Delta County Center for the Performing Arts (old Middle School Auditorium - 822 Grand Avenue.