Approved Minutes, September 14, 2015


Approved Minutes – September 14, 2015, 3:00 PM
73-710 Fred Waring Drive,
Conference Room 115 Palm Desert, CA 92260

Tele-conference location: State of California, Resources Agency
1416 Ninth St., Suite 1311 Sacramento, CA 95814



John J. Benoit, Riverside County
Buford Crites, State Assembly Appointee (Chairman) Kathy Dice, California State Parks
John Donnelly, Wildlife Conservation Board
Kristy Franklin, City of La Quinta
John Kalish, Bureau of Land Management
Shelley Kaplan, City of Cathedral City
Eddy Konno, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Joe McKee, City of Desert Hot Springs
Ted Mertens, City of Indian Wells
Karin Messaros, National Park Service
Chris Mills, City of Palm Springs
Eraina Ortega, California State Department of Finance Ellen L. Trover, Senate Rules Committee Appointee Susan Marie Weber, City of Palm Desert
Ted Weill, City of Rancho Mirage (Vice-Chairman)
Richard Balocco, City of Indian Wells
Arturo Delgado, U.S. Forest Service
Patrick Kemp, Natural Resources Agency
Allan Muth, University of California
Larry Olinger, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Joan Taylor, Governor’s Appointee
Jim Karpiak, Executive Director
Kerrie Godfrey, Associate Director/AGPA
Brit Wilson, City of Rancho Mirage

1.0 Call to Order & Introductions

Chairman Crites declared a quorum with 15 voting members present at 3:00 p.m.

He asked Executive Director, Jim Karpiak, to introduce a visitor, Brit Wilson, from the City of Rancho Mirage. Kristy Franklin arrived after the roll call was completed, thus bringing the quorum to 16 voting members present.

2.0 Approval of Minutes of July 13, 2015 Meeting
Chairman Crites asked if there were any comments, additions or corrections to the July 2015 minutes. There being none, the minutes were approved as distributed.

3.0 Public Comments on Items Not on the Agenda There were no public comments or questions.

4.0 Closed Session

No matters were scheduled.

5.0 Action Items – Public Hearing

5.1 Adoption of Resolution 2015-07 approving a local assistance grant to the Friends of the Desert Mountains for acquisition of approximately 62 acres in the Dos Palmas Conservation Area.

Executive Director Jim Karpiak showed the location of 3 parcels in the northeast section in the Dos Palmas Conservation Area on the displayed map. These parcels are located east of Salt Creek and south of the Coachella Valley Canal, and they are adjacent to the Dos Palmas ACEC. They also border, or are very close to, conservation parcels owned by BLM, FODM and CVCC, which makes for efficient monitoring and potential for transfer to the BLM in the future. FODM has focused on the Dos Palmas area the past 4 years in order to fill in the wildlife corridor and preserve the Salt Creek watershed into the Salton Sea.

The cost is $31,000 plus transaction fees. This translates to $500 per acre, lower than other acquisitions in the past couple years. CVMC staff recommends approval.

Jim pointed out that current law requires that the minutes reflect that two board members (Buford Crites and Joan Taylor) also serve on the FODM board; however, state law specifically provides that a non-paid board membership for a non-profit organization like FODM is not a conflict of interest, and therefore recusal is not required.

Chairman Crites asked if there were any questions. He announced there was a motion and a second (Mills/Weill) to approve Resolution 2015-07 and called for the roll call vote. The motion approving the resolution passed 14-0, with one member not voting.

5.2 Adoption of Resolution 2015-08 approving a capital improvement grant to the Friends of the Desert Mountains for its Desert Life Sensory Trail Project at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument Visitor Center.

Jim Karpiak reported that this is the 1st capital improvement grant since the board approved program guidelines last May. FODM is requesting $27,827.00 of a $126,000.00 project to improve the trail at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument Visitor’s Center. The trail is an existing loop that is currently unpaved. The goal is to improve it in a way to make it accessible for the disabled, add educational improvements for children and adults, and also add pavers (bricks) to keep people on the trail and limit the amount of habitat land that is disturbed by visitors. Phase 1 of the project consists of the brick walkway and signage; Phase 2 would add native plants and displays showing the variety of these desert plants; Phase 3 would add kiosks and interactive features.

These improvements have been carefully designed with the landowner, BLM, to affect only the previously disturbed areas. A secondary objective is to reduce the use of habitat area that is currently trespassed on by the public who are not aware of where the current trail boundaries are.

Improving recreational opportunities is a significant part of the Conservancy’s mission statement. CVMC’s grant would fund Phase 1, for which BLM has also provided funds. In summary, it is a small amount of money, but it will enhance the visitor center, which is a visible symbol of the conservation partnership in the Valley. CVMC staff recommends approval.

John McKee asked whether the pavers may shift/move around over time. Jim said he did not know, but advised that this path has been specifically designed for disabled users and patterned after others already in use. Jim noted that he was not sure if they planned to grade the path first; Ellen Trover speculated that they will grade the path, line it with paver sand (different than regular sand), then place pavers on top. This way if any repairs need to be made, pavers can be removed, repairs made, and the same pavers will be replaced.

Chairman Crites asked if there was a motion and a second (McKee/Weber) to approve Resolution 2015-08 and called for the roll call of votes. The motion approving the resolution passed with 14 ayes and 1 abstention and 1 member not voting.

6.0 Reports

6.1 Written Reports from Staff.

Jim noted that the report on fund balances, Attachment 4, now includes federal Section 6 program grant balances, including the additional $2,000,000 awarded to the Coachella Valley by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since the last board meeting. $2,000,000 is the maximum for any jurisdiction. CVMC is working cooperatively with the CVCC and FODM to find properties and matching funds for these grants. It is becoming increasingly difficult to spend Section 6 fund because owners are reluctant to wait the long periods of time it take to coordinate among the state and federal agencies involved in using Section 6 funds. Staff is working on a strategy to redouble efforts to use the $3.5 million in a timely manner.

6.2 Executive Director Report.

Jim Karpiak provided updates on the following:

6.2.1 Board Bus Tour of CVMC Project Areas in spring 2016. Several board members have been asking if there would be a board bus tour again in the near future. If the tour was something the board would like to do again, a revised route could be devised to include some projects missed the last time, and box lunches could be provided to save time. Board members Crites, Weber, Kaplan and Dice comment that it is very useful to see projects in person. Staff will look into options for planning a tour for next spring.

6.2.2 Prop 1 Grant Program Schedule – Since the last meeting the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Conservancy’s Prop 1 Grant Program was issued on July 15, 2015. The application deadline is November 14, 2015. There have been over 30 inquiries, in person and over the phone, from potential new grantees like Coachella Valley Water District, Mission Springs Water District, Salton Sea Authority, the Palm Springs Cemetery District, the Coachella Valley Resources Conservation District, and the Agua Caliente and Torres Martinez tribes. Also, several cities have potential projects, and the FODM and CVCC are collaborating on a couple projects.

While many interesting potential projects are in the works, no one knows which ones will actually be turned into submitted proposals. We will have a better idea by mid-October after the initial filing notice is issued. The Program Guidelines require a panel of independent experts to review and rate applications; the panel has not been assembled yet because many experts work for potential applicants. Once the list of applicants is final, the panel can be put together. Jim asked the board members to feel free to suggest potential panel members.

After the panel scores and rates the applications, they will be submitted to the CVMC board to approve and award the grants, which is expected to begin at the January, 2016 meeting.

We are interviewing for the Prop 1 staff person to coordinate the ongoing grant program and oversee the implementation of projects, including future monitoring. We hope to have the coordinator in place in November.

6.2.3 Shumway Ranch Acquisition – The University of Redlands (Redlands) is considering partnering with the FODM on the project. Dawn Wilson/FODM and Jim met with the Provost and Facilities Director from Redlands recently. FODM is reluctant to tackle the project alone because of the presence of structures on one of the parcels: one parcel is 480 acres of mostly mountainous territory, while the smaller parcel consist of 160 acres that has 4 houses and several out buildings on an approximately 10 acre section of the parcel. FODM would like to take the larger parcel while Redlands could take the smaller parcel for use as an offsite camp and research station.

Redlands said it would make a decision by the end of this year. If Redlands does not participate, we will negotiate with the sellers, the Living Desert, and FODM to see if a deal can be reached for FODM to take both parcels. The sellers are willing to demolish several of the buildings, leaving just 3 or 4 buildings. This would make it easier for

FODM to handle future management requirements. If FODM will not agree to take both parcels, we will attempt to get the Living Desert to sell the larger parcel separately.

6.2.4 Board Expansion Effective January 1, 2016

Since the last board meeting, AB 1089 passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously and the Governor signed the Bill. There was solid support from Assemblyman Garcia and Senator Stone. Coachella and Indio are expected to make appointments before the January meeting.

6.3 Board Member comments and reports from Conservancy member agencies.
John Kalish advised that on September 26, the public is invited to Pinyon Flats camp ground to help eradicate invasive species and restore wildlife habitats. The BLM State Director Jim Kenna is retiring at the end of month. His retirement party is October 2nd in the afternoon at the Federal Building in Sacramento.

7.0 Adjourn to the November 9, 2015 meeting.

The meeting was adjourned without objection at 3:59 p.m.