Natural Areas Enews
Meet the New Natural Areas Department Director

The City of Fort Collins is excited to announce the hiring of its new Natural Areas Department Director, Katie Donahue. Katie comes to the Natural Areas Department with over 20 years of experience in the natural resources field. Her previous roles include District Ranger for the Canyon Lakes Ranger District on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland, Economist for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Program Manager for Recreation Fees and Business Planning and a District Ranger role on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia. Katie spends her free time gardening and exploring Colorado with her husband and two kiddos on foot, bikes, and skis. She begins the director role in January 2022.

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Changes to Gateway Natural Area Passes

Several changes to the Gateway Natural Area pass purchasing process will begin January 1, 2022. Beginning January 1, annual passes will dispense from pay stations via credit card and will expire at the end of 2022.  Hangtag passes issued in 2021 are valid until the expiration date on the pass. The new pay stations will dispense day passes ($7) and annual passes ($40). People with disabilities can purchase annual passes for a discounted rate from an accessible pay station ($15).

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Black-footed ferrets released at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area
Black-footed ferrets are one of the most endangered mammals in North America. To support their recovery, Natural Areas staff and teams from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gathered to release some of these endangered species back into their natural habitat, the shortgrass prairie. In November, multiple black-footed ferrets (BFFs) were released at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Meadow Springs Ranch. Fort Collins Natural Areas is the only municipality involved with BFF recovery, carrying out tasks such as spotlight monitoring, and mitigating the impacts of disease. Thanks to these efforts, and invaluable partnerships with other agencies, BFFs have a better chance of survival.
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Seasonal Closure at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area
Soapstone Prairie Natural Area is closed for the winter season for wildlife migration and breeding. The natural area will be closed from December through February and will reopen on March 1, 2022, weather-dependent. A limited pronghorn hunt by specially permitted hunters will end on December 19. Thank you for respecting the closure.

New Podcast Alert
Natural Areas Environmental Planner, Jennifer Shanahan, was featured on the latest episode of Engineering with Nature. Learn how cities like Fort Collins and New York City share the challenges and unique methods of working with nature in urban settings to improve human well-being and ecological function.
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Volunteers of the Month
A big thank you to the December Volunteer Group of the Month: Poudre School District Global Academy! This group of young adults helped to mulch dozens of native shrubs at Kestrel Fields Natural Area last month. This work helps to restore habitat for native wildlife and pollinators of this new natural area. Thank you for all of your hard work volunteers! Kestrel Fields is not yet open to the public while future public access is being planned.

Free Upcoming Activities
Skygazing | Saturday, December 11 | 7 PM | Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area | Registration Required
Volunteers from the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society provide telescopes and share their knowledge about the stars, planets, galaxies, and more.

Eagle Watch | Every Friday and Saturday beginning December 17 | 3-4:30 PM | Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area 
Bald eagles from the north make Fort Collins their winter home. Volunteer Naturalists are stationed at the viewing pier and explain the eagles’ natural history and help visitors view them through spotting scopes and binoculars. Drop-in any time during these programs. They are free and no registration is required.

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

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