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Controlled Burns

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Natural Areas Department to Conduct Prescribed Burns in 2014

The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department, in coordination with The Nature Conservancy, will be conducting several prescribed fires within many of the City’s natural areas. These natural areas include: Soapstone Prairie, Reservoir Ridge, and Fossil Creek Reservoir. The burns will take place during the fall and winter months of 2014/2015.

The Natural Areas Department conducts prescribed burns to accomplish a variety of management goals. Depending on the site and the specific project, prescribed burning may be used to reduce weedy vegetation, improve plant community composition for habitat goals, or reduce the presence of hazardous fuels.

This season’s efforts will focus on reducing introduced pasture grasses such as smooth brome and cheatgrass, which have little habitat value, while promoting native grasses such as buffalo grass and blue grama which are adapted to fire and respond well to conditions created following a burn.  Additionally, at the south part of Fossil Creek Reservoir and at Soapstone Prairie burning will help to diversify the grassland habitat for migrating birds.

Smoke advisory signs will be posted along roads, trails, entrance station, and parking lots. A Natural Areas Department representative will inform visitors of the prescribed fire and closures. Officials will closely monitor smoke dispersal to avoid impacts to motorists and residents. To mitigate concerns, the Natural Areas Department will burn only under conditions that promote good smoke dispersal.

Concerns or questions regarding this burn can be directed to Rick Bachand, Environmental Program Manager at (970) 416-2183, or the Natural Areas Department at (970) 416-2815.

Wild x Wild Features Photos of Wildlife by Wildlife

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The Rocky Mountain Cat Conservancy), its partners such as the City's Natural Areas Department, and the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery will host a free community event that features a gallery of photographs of local wildlife by local wildlife, Sunday, October 26, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Museum of Discovery. Wild by Wild highlights the results of Community, Cameras, and Conservation, a citizen-science program uses remote camera traps to monitor local wildlife.  “It’s a gallery of wild animal selfies,” says Caroline Krumm, big cat biologist and RMCC Director. 

Free Upcoming Activities

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Make a Difference Week, October 20-26. United Way invites everyone to pitch in and make a difference! Join fellow volunteers and the Natural Areas Department to make Larimer County a safe and healthy place to live, work and play. Natural Areas is offering multiple volunteer projects this week as are dozens of local organizations. Registration required at

View a Partial Solar Eclipse, Thursday, October 23, 3:00-6:00 p.m., Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area, meet at the parking lot off Carpenter Road. The Northern Colorado Astronomical Society will have telescopes available to view the partial solar eclipse. The eclipse reaches 57% maximum at 4:34 p.m. Dress warmly. To get updates, check the NCAS website at No registration required, but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at

Updated Natural Areas Map

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The Natural Areas Map is updated regularly.  The new version is available online now (pdf).  Printed copies will be available soon.

Natural Areas Master Plan

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The Natural Areas Master Plan sets the direction for the next ten years of natural areas.   Learn more about the plan. The Natural Areas Master Plan was adopted by City Council on October 7.  An Executive Summary has also been prepared.

Help Preserve Open Spaces

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Larimer County’s Help Preserve Open Spaces sales tax funds approximately 38% of the Natural Areas Department’s operations.  It expires in 2018.  The renewal of the tax was referred to the November ballot by the Larimer County Commissioners  Learn more >>>

Natural Areas

Physical Address: 1745 Hoffman Mill Road, Fort Collins, CO 80524
Mailing Address: PO Box 580, Ft. Collins, CO 80522-0580
Phone: (970) 416-2815
Fax: (970) 416-2211
Normal Business Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
Directions: From Lemay (the part of Lemay between Riverside and Mulberry), turn east onto Poudre River Drive. Follow Poudre River Drive as it curves, changes names to Hoffman Mill Road and eventually dead-ends at Nix Natural Area and the Natural Areas Department's offices.

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