The Natural Areas Program will begin a habitat restoration on the western pond of McMurry Natural Area in the last week of April. The goal is to diversify wetland habitat within the former gravel pond and expand the width of the cottonwood forest. McMurry Natural Area is located on the north side of the Poudre River east of Shields St and north of Lee Martinez Park.
The trail between the two ponds at McMurry will be closed for 4-6 weeks starting the last week of April. There will be no access to the west pond during construction and limited access in the first year while vegetation becomes established. The natural surface trail that connects Shields Street to Hickory Street and the Hemlock Trail will generally be open, however, temporary trail closures may be necessary while heavy machinery is operating. Closures for restoration at McMurry Natural Area will not affect use of the paved Poudre Trail.
During the earthmoving, McMurry Natural Area may look like a construction site, but once site re-grading is complete and vegetation is planted, the site will become more naturalized creating improved habitat for wildlife and an aesthetically appealing landscape. The first step is re-grading steep slopes and pushing soil into the pond to create shallow water habitat. Following grading, willows, cottonwoods, native shrubs and grasses will be planted. After a year of establishment, it is expected that low-lying areas will be thriving and supporting wildlife use. Upland grasslands are expected to require a few additional growing seasons to mature.
The western pond at McMurry Natural Area was the former site of gravel mining activity and consequently the shorelines are steep and do not provide critical habitat for many aquatic insects, fish, amphibians and birds. This restoration project will add 3 acres of vegetated wetlands and restore an additional 4 acres of upland grasslands and cottonwood forests. A second phase to restore McMurry’s north riverbanks is planned for 2013.
Everyone can help by respecting area closures and staying on the designated trails. Up to date information about trail closures will be posted at www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/status.php
or you can call an on-duty Natural Areas Ranger at 970-416-2147.