BIDWELL PARK LOOKING TO THE FUTURE WITH THE PAST IN MIND
Friends of Bidwell Park Goals • Protect the natural qualities of Bidwell Park • Encourage responsible park use • Facilitate the development, funding and implementation of the Bidwell Park Master Management Plan • Help educate the public about their natural environment and important issues regarding park management
Topics of Discussion • Brief human history of Bidwell Park • Details of funding and management • Development of the Bidwell Park Master Management Plan/EIR • Threats to Bidwell Park • Future of Bidwell Park
Brief Human History of Bidwell Park • Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Konkow and Mechoopda Maidu Indians ranged throughout large portions of the region. The Mechoopda tribe, with its own distinct dialect of the Maidu language, had a village along Butte Creek, ~3.5 miles from the current site of Chico at the time when John Bidwell arrived. • John Bidwell purchased a Spanish Land Grant, Rancho Arroyo Chico, from the Dickey brothers in 1849. Impressed with the magnificent scenery of the Big Chico Creek canyon, he and his wife Annie would later deed over 2000 acres to the City of Chico in order to preserve the natural beauty for future generations to enjoy. • In 1905, the City of Chico accepted this gift from the Bidwells and promises to “preserve this one spot to nature, inviolate and through all time”. The Bidwell Park and Playground Commission was formed in 1918 with “..the power and the duty to operate and maintain all of the parks and playgrounds owned by the City…” • With the purchase of several additions over the years, Bidwell Park has grown to 3670 acres. • Today, several hundred thousand people visit Bidwell Park every year to transverse the trails through nature, enjoy Big Chico Creek, and to use the various existing recreational facilities.
The Park Division’s responsibilities include: • Bidwell Park -- 3670 acres • Creekside Greenways and Open Space: • Annie’s Glen • Bidwell Ranch (long-term management proposals currently being solicited) • East 20th St at Notre Dame Open Space • First and Verbena Open Space • Little Chico Creek Creekside Greenway • Lost Park • Mud Creek Creekside Greenway • Sycamore Creek Creekside Greenway • Comanche Creek Linear Park • Sandy Gulch (Lindo Channel)
The Park Division’s responsibilities include: (cont.) • Developed Parks: • Bidwell Bowl Amphitheater • Camellia Way Park • Children's Playground • Depot Park • Humboldt Park • Plaza Park • Ringel Park • Skateboard Park • Wildwood Park
The Park Division’s responsibilities include: (cont.) • Undeveloped Neighborhood Parks • Baroni Park (master plan recently approved) • Ceres Park (master plan under development) • Henshaw Park • Maintenance of 30,000 street trees • Management of more than 130 maintenance districts
Park Lessees • Bidwell Park Golf Club • Chico Area Recreation and Park District (Sycamore Field, Hooker Oak Recreation Area) • Chico Creek Nature Center • Chico Equestrian Association • Chico Rod and Gun Club • Kiwanis Chico Community Observatory
Personnel Summary Funded Allocated Positions: Hourly Positions:
City of Chico2005-06 Annual Budget (proposed) Park Division Expenditure Category General Fund Other Salaries and Employee Benefits $1,805,174 0 Materials and Supplies $225,561 0 Purchased Services $537,550 0 Other Expenses $148,122 0 Allocations $226,684 0 Department Total $2,943,091 $0 Department Summary by Fund-Activity Title General Fund Park Administration $350,148 Parks and Open Spaces $1,528,306 Street Trees/Public Plantings $1,064,637 Department Total $2,943,091
All Park Division operating expenditures are paid from the Chico General Fund whose income sources are: Sales tax 43% Utility user’s tax 15% Motor vehicle in-lieu fees 12% Interfund transfers 10% Property taxes 8% Other 8% Transient occupancy tax 4%
Additional funding sources for operating expenses in other municipal parks include: Fixed percentage of sales tax (requires voter approval) Parcel tax (requires voter approval) Fixed percentage of the transient occupancy tax (requires voter approval) Donations from individuals and businesses Foundations
Volunteer Organizations Working in Bidwell Park on a Regular Basis(about 15,000 hours in 2004) Big Chico Creek Watershed Alliance—water quality testing & grant-writing for fish ladder repairs Butte Environmental Council—annual Bidwell Park and Creeks of Chico cleanup California Native Plant Society, Mt. Lassen Chapter—removal of invasive Spanish broom in Upper Park and Lindo Channel Chico Cat Coalition—rescue, care for, spay & neuter and find homes for cats and kittens that are dumped in the park (more than 600 so far) Friends of Bidwell Park—invasive plant removal, mapping, trash pickup, oak tree restoration, Annie’s Glen Centennial restoration project Kids and Creeks—invasive plant removal and riparian restoration by K-12 students Park Watch—the “eyes and ears” of the park, report problems to ranger, provide information to park visitors Streaminders—riparian restoration at One Mile and in Upper Park VIPs—Chico Police Dept. volunteers patrol Upper Park
Parks and Open Space Acquisition Funds *Income to these funds is from development impact fees
Bidwell Park and Playground Park Commission Commissioners apply for these volunteer positions, are appointed by the City Council and serve four year terms.
Development of the Bidwell Park Master Management Plan/EIR Why the Update? Contract with EDAW – scope and content Where is the update process now? Key issues and proposed changes
Why the Update? 1990 MMP recommends an update about every 5 years 15 years had lapsed In 1995, the City purchased two parcels as an addition to Bidwell Park, totaling approximately1420 acres, that had never been subject to inclusion in the MMP
Contract with the Consulting Firm EDAW • Total estimated cost: $423,865. • Highlights from the ‘Project Scope’ language: ° Create a user-friendly GIS database using existing information about Bidwell Park ° “ A field guide or manual for invasive weed removal is the desired outcome of the planning process.” ° Create a Cultural Resource Plan ° “ A trail plan for Upper Bidwell Park is one of the desired outcomes of the Updated Plan.” ° Develop Goals and Guidelines ° Develop other specific project plans: a) Cedar Grove b) Horseshoe Lake c) One Mile Recreation Area d) CEQA compliant project plan and EIR for ProposedDisc Golf Courses in Upper Park
Contract with the Consulting Firm EDAW (cont.) • EIR: “…existing conditions section ( section 2 of the Draft ) of the updated plan shall serve as the setting section of the EIR.” “ Up to two alternatives will be analyzed in addition to the ‘no project alternative.’” • Draft EIR • Project Specific EIRs (EDAW): Annie Bidwell Trail, Disc Golf
Where is the Update Process Now? • Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) activity is formally complete • A Draft of the Updated Plan has been submitted to the BPPC for review, comment and input • The BPPC has scheduled a series of public meetings to discuss various components of the Updated Plan (draft): September 29th (regular BPPC meeting) October 3rd, 12th, 17th, Nov 2nd, 3rd 10th, 14th (specially scheduled) November 7th & 28th (regular BPPC meetings) • BPPC approves a version of the Draft Plan • ‘Administrative Draft EIR’ goes to City staff • A Draft EIR will then be presented to the public for a comment period of 45 days. • Final Draft BPMMP and the Final Draft EIR are presented to City Council for approval/adoption
Key Issues and Proposed Changes Format of the Plan: 1990 BPMMP Draft MMP Park-Wide Goals and ObjectivesExisting conditions Issue Specific Recommendations Vision Zone Specific RecommendationsGoals & Objectivesand Management UnitsImplementationStrategies & Guidelines Design StandardsLower, Middle, Upper Park ‘ Zones’ Appendices Appendices: CRMP NRMP Regulatory Framework Gen. Plan Policies
Key Issues: Potentials for Significant Change • Loss of Language • Alteration of wording • Loss of clarity / rearrangement into new contexts • Loss of the specific Zone concept • User friendliness? • Defensibility?
Key Issues: Potential Improvements • Section 2; Existing Conditions – the BPMMP as a learning tool • Clarification of the roles of the BPPC, Park Director, and the BPMMP • Creation of the Bidwell Park Sphere of Influence Overlay Zone • Clarification of Bidwell Park’s role as a recreational facility
Two Very Key Issues: • Degree to which the terms of Annie Bidwell’s Deed of Conveyance plays a role • Development of recreation inside and outside of Bidwell Park
Annie Bidwell’s Deed of Conveyance Recent draft references to 1990 MMP: 18.104.22.168 Park wide Goals and Objectives; Decision Making and Management. 3rd Objective: Annie Bidwell’s requirements as noted in the Deed of Conveyance for the original Park area should be a consideration in decision-making related to Bidwell Park, especially as it relates to Park stewardship. 4th Objective: The Goals and Objectives of the BPMMP should be considered the primary policy statement for management of Bidwell Park and future revisions or amendments to those will be subject to review and approval by the City Council. 1990 MMP 5.1.1 Decision Making and Management Issue 4: The intent of Annie Bidwell’s gift to the City of Chico is held in high regard among park managers and park users. Recommendations: A) Annie Bidwell’s requirements as noted in the Deed of Conveyance must always remain a primary consideration in all decision making related to Bidwell Park. B) The Deed of Conveyance should be used to maintain the City’s dedication to stewardship of Bidwell Park. C) The Goals, Objectives and Recommendations in the MMP should be considered as a supplemental policy statement for management of Bidwell Park.
Recreational Uses Plan 1990 Plan:Current Draft: Two general mechanisms Still forming language around that address impacts to BP this issue as a result of recreation • Use-Intensity 2) Location of ‘Developed Recreation to areas outside of Bidwell Park’
Threats to Bidwell Park Threats From Adjacent Development Building next to natural areas without providing adequate buffers leads to… • Habitat fragmentation and increased edge effect • Increased invasions of invasive plant and animal species • Reduction of native biodiversity through displacement and predation • Increased extinction rates of local populations • Hydrological alterations • Destruction of functioning corridors between habitats • Diminution of the majestic views for park users
Threats from lack of adequate information • Detailed information about Bidwell Park’s natural communities and their associated functions is limited • Specific information regarding sensitive plant and animal species and their habitat requirements is limited • Incomplete documentation of cultural resources • Identification of active soil erosion sites has never been conducted by qualified soil scientist
Threats From Lack of Management • Bidwell Park’s new Draft Master Management Plan fails to clearly define the priority of management tasks and identification of funding sources • City lacks ability to provide enforcement to stop illegal uses of the park (bootleg trails, alcohol consumption, seasonal smoking ban, camping) • City proposes more development of Bidwell Park, without attempting to outline a maintenance plan for existing park trails and existing facilities • During the update process the City is questioning the General Plan Resource Conservation Area designation for all of Bidwell Park
Suggestions for the Advocacy of the Conservation of Bidwell Park Help Commissioners, Councilors and fellow citizens understand : • The significance of Bidwell Park as a historically and currently intended natural park • The significance of Bidwell Park’s size, quality and location in reference to statewide/regional preservation of species/natural habitats • The sustainable ecosystem needs of Bidwell Park • Bidwell Park as the worst choice for locating developed recreation • Bidwell Park as a quality of life issue • Bidwell Park as an economic influence • Bidwell Park as an educational resource