Natural Areas Enews
Buckhorn Addition Expands Bobcat Ridge Natural Area
The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department is under contract to purchase 675-acres adjacent to Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. The acquisition will take place in two parts; 414 acres were acquired in April and 261 acres are planned to be purchased in early 2023. The acquisition is in a high-priority area for both the City of Fort Collins and Larimer County.  Conserving this area eliminates 11, 35-acre homesites and a 28-lot subdivision, which were ready for development and would have negatively impacted the scenic values and wildlife corridors at Bobcat Ridge. Future public access will be planned and opportunities for public engagement will be available after the real estate deals are finalized.
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Everyone is Invited to Celebrate Birds
Peak spring bird migration happens in Northern Colorado in early to mid-May. Celebrate the return of these species by participating in one of the events below! 

Recreate Responsibly this Summer
May is Water Safety Month and with summer around the corner, enjoying time outside includes being water-safe. These safety-focused tips are for anyone that recreates in, on, and around water. 
  • Know Before You Go: Check the weather forecast and water conditions before you go. Cold water can be dangerous, even on warm days. Learning to swim is the #1 recommendation for water safety.
  • Plan and Prepare: Life jackets save lives. Bring essential gear for boats or vessels like lifejackets, a whistle, and navigational devices.
  • Build a Safe and Inclusive Outdoors: People have different comfort levels with water. We can be safer together. When recreating with young children or in groups, designate a water watcher.
  • Learn How to Respond: If someone else is in trouble, call 911 and get help. Don’t go in the water to help. To assist others: Reach, Throw, Don’t Go. If you are in trouble: Flip, Float, Relax.
  • Respect Water: Water can be powerful. Always tell someone your plan. Obey posted safety signs. Learn to read water conditions and remain alert.
  • Make It Better: Help protect our waters by leaving your environment cleaner than you found it. Water is Life.
Learn More

Share Your Thoughts
It's the last month to share your feedback on the management of Soapstone Prairie, Kestrel Fields, and 21 natural areas along the Poudre River; feedback is due by May 31. If you have feedback about other natural areas, you may provide that input at any time using this form.
Share Your Thoughts

Shortgrass Prairie Ecosystem Stickers
Did you know that the shortgrass prairie covers 40% of Colorado? This beautiful and fascinating ecosystem is home to unique wildlife and rare plant species. The Natural Areas Department is able to protect a piece of the shortgrass prairie ecosystem by managing Soapstone Prairie Natural Area.  These new stickers highlight and celebrate important species in shortgrass prairie ecosystems and you can collect them all! 
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New Volunteer Opportunities
Are you looking to get involved with natural areas and make a difference in your community?  Volunteers are needed for three ongoing projects. Each opportunity requires a training session. Sign up for the training by clicking on the links below. 
  • Biodiversity Monitoring Training- Birds and Butterflies | May 9, 5:30 p.m. | Virtual Training
    • Biodiversity monitoring is a great way to get outside, look for birds and butterflies, and a great way for future scientists to get involved.
      This important scientific data will increase understanding of “connected open spaces that provide experiences and functional habitat for people, plants and animals.”
All Volunteer Opportunities

Native Plant Sales
There are a ton of opportunities to find native plants for your space!
  • Reserve your ticket for the Spring Plant Sale at Gardens on Spring Creek starting May 4 at noon for the general public. You’ll be able to choose from thousands of native and regionally appropriate plants. Grab your ticket. 
  • Can't make the spring plant sale? Select your native plants from High Plains Environmental Center. Each native plant is only $6.
  • Use the Recommended Plant List created by the City of Fort Collins Vegetation team to help you decide what to plant at home this year. 

Volunteers of the Month!
Big thank you to the School Program Volunteers for helping to lead school trips with the Natural Areas Department. Volunteers came back after a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic and have been doing an excellent job of working with students under new staff, school standards, and program tweaks. Thank you, volunteers! 

The Explorer Comes Out in May!
Be on the lookout for the release of this year's Explorer, your guide to free activities on natural areas! Copies will be available both digitally and in print. Follow the Natural Areas Department on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to be the first to know. In the meantime, you can find the calendar of upcoming activities in Engage.

Free Upcoming Activities
Lunar Eclipse | Sunday, May 15 | 8:30 - 11 p.m. | Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area 
Volunteers from the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society provide telescopes and share their knowledge about the stars, planets, galaxies, and more. The focus of the night will be the total lunar eclipse from 9:29 - 10:54 pm. Drop in anytime during the program, registration not required.

A Parade of Prairie Bloom | Friday, May 20 | 9 - 11 p.m. | Pineridge Natural Area | Registration Required
Explore the blooms through the months, while learning about native and non-native plants. This includes the life history and uses for these prairie plants. Curious about what all of the different plants along the hike are called and how they benefit the environment? This is the hike for you!

A Hike Through the Ages | Saturday, May 21 | 9 - 2 p.m. | Soapstone Prairie Natural Area
Experts in geology, ecology, and history show how Soapstone Prairie was formed, the creatures that keep it functioning, and the homesteading and ranching history that is part of our heritage. The hikes offer participants unique off-trail experiences.

LGBTQ+ Community Hike | Sunday, May 22 | 8:30 - 11 a.m. | Location provided upon registration
Explore natural areas and their importance to our local ecosystems and our own mental health and wellness. Topics will vary. Hikes are intended to be a safe and inclusive space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to gather. Allies are welcome, please be mindful of the safe space. 2-3 miles; easy-moderate. 13+

Sights and Sounds of North Shields Ponds | Tuesday, May 24 | 10 a.m. - noon | North Shields Ponds Natural Area
Discover a special Poudre River Natural Area right in town. North Shields Ponds includes a riverbank and two large ponds with easy trails for exploration. Its wetland and forest habitats support a wide variety of animal life.
View the Event Calendar

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