Trails for Spring Wildflowers
Wildflowers are beginning to bloom and the prairie is awash with green. It is a great time to explore your natural areas! For an easily accessible, nearby trail, try Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area. In 2014, a volunteer identified the blooms there- check the "What's Blooming" archive and practice your identification skills!
Bobcat Ridge is another favorite wildflower destination with trails of varies distances and elevations. Try visiting on weekdays, early in the morning or late in the afternoon as the parking lot often fills on the weekends and parking is not allowed on the road. Wildflower walks are offered monthly starting in May:
Wildflowers through the Seasons, Tuesday, May 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, meet at the parking lot. Walk with us every 3rd Tuesday of the month, May to August, to see what is in bloom and learn about native plants. 1-2 miles; easy. Free, registration required at naturetracker.fcgov.com
Behind the Scenes: Restoration
For 12 years, restoration has been evolving at Kingfisher Point Natural Area, near the Natural Areas Department's headquarters. It is a dynamic and long-term process that might not be apparent at first glance. The first step was to replace non-native smooth brome grass with a native grass mix. That process was successful but one species, native western wheatgrass, eventually dominated the field. Now efforts are turning towards increasing the diversity because many different plants attract many different kinds of wildlife, making a healthy system. This spring, spot herbicide spraying targeted western wheatgrass (see the brown patch in the photo?) and the goal of reseeding is to create different layers (short, medium, tall) and a diversity of native plants to support more wildlife and create a healthy ecosystem. It is just one example of the dynamic and in-depth restoration process that happens "behind the scenes" yet in front of our eyes.
Free Upcoming Activities
Bison Exploration, Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at the South Parking Lot. See American bison in their natural habitat, the shortgrass prairie! We will meet at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area to learn about the bison and their impact on this ecosystem as we observe the herd. Please note: The bison are constantly on the move and we cannot guarantee that they will be visible. Bring binoculars, snacks, water, closed-toe shoes, and sun protection. ½ mile, easy. Free, registration required at naturetracker.fcgov.com
Behind the Scenes Birding, Friday, May 13, 8-11 a.m. Brooks Canyon at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, meet at the parking lot to carpool into the site. Join Natural Areas staff members for a peek at migrant and resident birds in Brooks Canyon. This area is closed to the public so you must arrive on time and leave with the group. Off trail, bumpy ground, vegetation may be high. Wear long pants, insect repellent, and closed-toe shoes. Bring water and binoculars. 1-2 miles; easy. Free, registration required at naturetracker.fcgov.com
Skygazing, Friday May 13 8:30 -10:30 p.m. 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 naturetracker.fcgov.com. For weather updates and cancellations, visit nocoastro.org.
Arid Adaptations, Saturday, May 21, 9-11:30 a.m. Reservoir Ridge Natural Area, meet at the Michaud Lane trailhead. In an area with scarce water, how do plants and animals survive? Learn about their amazing strategies as you hike from prairie to foothills. 2.5 miles; easy to moderate. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com
Geology Exploration: From Basement to Desert, Tuesday, May 24, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, meet in the parking lot. Hike with a friendly and fun geologist to uncover the secrets of how the landscape formed. Discover the oldest rocks in Larimer County, the Great Unconformity, and the red rocks shed from the Ancestral Rockies. Bring sun protection, lunch, water, sturdy shoes, and rain gear. 4 miles; moderate. Free, registration required at naturetracker.fcgov.com
Poudre River Clean-up, Saturday, May 28, 9 a.m.-12 noon, Lee Martinez Park, 600 N. Sherwood St. Pitch in and help clean-up the Cache la Poudre River corridor! Join Mountain Whitewater Descents, Save the Poudre, and the Natural Areas Department for the annual spring clean-up. All you need is gloves, sunscreen and the desire to make a difference. No registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com Please carpool, bike or walk to reduce congestion. When you arrive sign-in at the check-in table prior to the clean-up.