Natural Areas Enews
Soapstone Prairie Natural Areas Reopens
Soapstone Prairie Natural Area is now open for the 2021 season. Soapstone Prairie is extraordinary with over 28 square miles of wide-open vistas, nearly pristine grasslands, miles of trails, and world-renowned cultural resources. It is truly a place to treasure! Visit Soapstone Prairie to meet the past, enjoy the present and preserve the future. Soapstone Prairie is open March-November.
Learn About Soapstone Prairie

Start Planning a Water-Wise Landscape

Thinking about or already planning on transforming part of your yard into xeric urban habitat? Then sign up for the Xeriscape Incentive Program to get expert advice and a rebate on your utilities bill (must be a City of Fort Collins Utilities customer). Starting this year, Nature in the City is partnering with Utilities to offer up to an additional $250 bonus for plans that contain at least 80% native plants. Sign up for an upcoming online training to learn more:

More Information About XIP

Know Before You Go
Trails frequently open and closed due to wet and muddy conditions. Access to Maxwell Natural Area will be closed at Banyan Drive by the Ponds at Overland Trail starting March 8. Bobcat Ridge Natural Area remains closed due to the Cameron Peak Fire.

Where do you find out about natural area closures, full parking lots, and announcements? There are four options:
Trails are closed when wet and muddy to prevent damage to the natural area. Going around the mud widens the trail. Going through the mud damages the trail.

The busiest times at natural areas are weekends, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., so try visiting earlier or later, or on weekday mornings for the best chance at parking. Have an alternate destination in mind. When parking lots are full try another trailhead or come back another time. Avoid a parking ticket! Only park in designated spaces.

Remember to keep physically distant (6 ft) from other visitors and wear a mask in areas where physical distance is difficult to maintain. Please step off the trail and wait (instead of walking off the trail for several feet) to protect the native plants on the edge of the trail. 
Natural Areas Trail Conditions Webpage

Volunteer Group of the Month- Crew Leaders
The burliest of our volunteers, Volunteer Crew Leaders lead, educate and convey the Natural Areas mission on outdoor stewardship projects. Crew Leaders work individually or lead small groups on a variety of service projects including plantings, restoration work, gardening, trail building and maintenance, trash cleanups, and more. Thank you, Crew Leaders, for helping make Natural Areas Stewardship Projects run smoothly!

Volunteer Crew Leader training with be combined with Volunteer Naturalist Assistant training this year. Training dates are May 14-16. Apply here.
Crew Leader Information

Nice Outside? Don't Clean out the Garden!

On beautiful spring days of March and April, it can be very tempting to clean out the garden, however, don’t clean out the garden yet! In fact, it is best to wait until as late in May as you can handle. Most of Larimer County’s 400+ native bees are solitary and very likely could be nesting in your winter garden beds. Many types of bees lay eggs in hollow or pithy stems of dead plants. Bees leave their egg with a ball of pollen or “bee bread” so the larval stage can survive when it hatches. After pupating adult bees finally emerge in early to late spring, depending on the type of bee and the weather, of course. The leaves piled in your garden or the over-wintered dead stems provide cozy winter homes for our native pollinators, which is a great reason to wait to tidy that garden!

Garden Cleaning Done Right

Free Upcoming Activities
Virtual Fireside Fridays: Adaptable Birds of Larimer County
Friday, March 5, 6:30-7 p.m.on Facebook Live

Skygazing

Friday, March 27, 8-10 p.m. at Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area
Saturday, April 17, 8:30-10:30 p.m. at Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area
Volunteers from Northern Colorado Astronomical Society will be available with large telescopes and lots of information about the night sky. Free, registration required at fcgov.com/register

The Natural Areas Explorer booklet that lists programming June-November will be released in May. Subscribers to this newsletter are notified first!
Calendar of Free Activities

Natural Areas News is published on the first Tuesday of the month with occasional special editions. Newsletter comments are welcome. Please contact Zoe Shark, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Public Engagement Manager, 970-221-6311 or zshark@fcgov.com. 

To learn more about Natural Areas, visit our website.

City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department
PO Box 580, 1745 Hoffman Mill Road
Fort Collins, CO 80522