December 2015
Naturally Yours
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Know Your Trail Etiquette Article


Here is the scene: You are mountain biking down your favorite natural area trail, enjoying the challenge of the rocks, the sunshine on your face, your legs pumping the pedals. You see a hiker ahead and slow down. You ring your handlebar bell to signal you’d like to pass. The person ahead doesn’t seem to hear you. Mystified, you look closer. Two white cords flow from their ears and there is music faintly escaping. Headphones have the hiker in his own world. Do you pass on the narrow trail anyway, call out more loudly, follow behind for what feels like forever?

Concerns about similar scenarios are common. Hikers protest that mountain bike riders go too fast, fail to make an audible signal before passing, wear ear buds or don’t yield. There are complaints about audible music ruining the natural quiet. Mountain bikers say inattentive hikers impact their experience, too. You can help, says Natural Areas Community Relations Manager, Zoe Shark in this Coloradoan newspaper article >>>

Plague at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area


A likely plague infected prairie dog was found at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area last month. The prairie dog colony where the infected animal was found has been signed, and the trail remains open. People who have visited Bobcat Ridge recently should be on the lookout for plague symptoms and consult a doctor if they become suddenly ill. Plague can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected flea or by close contact with an infected animal. Human plague can be fatal unless properly diagnosed and treated.
Follow these precautions to reduce the risk of human plague:
- Avoid sick or dead animals.
- Use insect repellent on skin and clothes.
- Do not camp near rodent nests or burrows.
- Hunters and trappers should wear gloves when handling dead animals.
- Do not allow dogs and cats to roam free (dogs are not allowed at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area)
- Use a flea and tick preventative on dogs and cats as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Cats are very susceptible to plague, keep cats indoors for their safety.

Learn more from the Larimer County Health Department, Read the press release here >>>



Winter skies can be beautiful so Skygazing continues year-round! Be sure to dress warmly and join the fun! Saturday, December 12, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. at Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area, meet in the parking lot off Carpenter Road. Enjoy viewing the night sky with telescopes and knowledgeable volunteers provided by the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society. Dress warmly and bring a blanket or chair to sit on. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at For weather updates and cancellations, visit the NCAS website at

Coming soon- Bald Eagle Watches at Fossil Creek Reservoir will start on December 26, from 3:30 p.m.- 5:00 p.m. Drop in anytime during those hours! January dates will be announced in the next Enews. You can always check the NatureTracker calendar for all upcoming programs!

December = Free Parking


Winter brings changes in your natural areas. Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and the bison pasture close annually during December, January and February.  Weather permitting, they will reopen on March 1. At Gateway Natural Area, December brings free parking until March 1 (parking during the warmer months is $6).

At Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, recent windy weather has downed trees on the DR Trail, it is impassable in some areas.  No matter what the season, its always a good idea to check the trail conditions page before you go!

Tis the Season: Ski, Snowshoe, Sled


With winter weather, you might be wondering where you can ski, snowshoe or sled in natural areas. On the rare occasions when there is enough snow to cover trails, visitors are welcome to cross-country ski or snowshoe on any trails open for hiking. No natural area trails are groomed and motorized use is not permitted. Regulations regarding on-trail/off-trail use apply. At natural areas with paved trails that are plowed, visitors on skis/snowshoes must stay within 10 feet of the paved trail. Sites at higher elevation such as Bobcat Ridge may hold snow longer than lower elevation areas.

 Sledding is not permitted on natural area hillsides as it damages the plants, creates unsustainable trails, and causes erosion.

Beavers, here?!


Beavers have made a comeback since the late 1800s when unregulated trapping nearly wiped them out.  In Fort Collins, they inhabit areas along the Poudre River and Spring Creek.  While managing beavers in urban areas presents challenges, there are benefits to allowing them a place to reside within the city.  Beavers build dams that slow water flow and create wetlands that retain water and provide habitat for other wildlife.  Although these benefits must be carefully controlled in the urban landscape, the Natural Areas Department promotes beavers and beaver habitat where possible.  Because the community has conserved land and supported restoration, a high quality natural experience is available to you right here in Fort Collins. Thank you for supporting natural areas and restoration through sales tax ballot measures!


naturalareaslogo.gif 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 Community Relations Manager, 970-221-6311 or

To learn more about Natural Areas, visit our website.

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