Natural Areas Enews
Eagle Watches Start Friday, Dec.13

Bald eagles from the north make Fort Collins their winter home. They spend nights in communal roosts in cottonwood trees at Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area. Drop-in to visit with the volunteer Master Naturalists who are stationed at the viewing pier. They will explain the eagles’ natural history and help visitors view them through spotting scopes and binoculars.

Eagle Watches will be Fridays and Saturday afternoons, December 13-February 15. Free, no registration required but you can sign up for a reminder and updates. Eagle Watches can be CANCELED due to cold temperatures or snow, cancellations are posted at and emailed to all registered participants.

Calendar of free activities

Make a Difference as a Volunteer Ranger Assistant

Did you think you would grow up to be a park ranger?  It’s not too late!  You can become a Volunteer Ranger Assistant and help park and natural area rangers accomplish much of their important work. 
As a Volunteer Ranger Assistant, you will be an ambassador for natural areas and open spaces and a friendly face on the trail that can answer visitor questions.Volunteers have an important role in caring for trails, kiosks and other amenities. Get exercise, fresh air and quiet time all while giving back to your community. You can volunteer on foot, ride your bike, or ride your horse. 
The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department and Larimer County’s Department of Natural Resources are now accepting Volunteer Ranger Assistant applications.  Volunteers attend 20 hours of training in February, and are asked to contribute 20 hours of service in return.  Application deadline is January 13, 2020.

Learn more and apply

Nature in the City Wants to Support Your Project

Nature in the City wants to learn about your innovative project that will create new or improve existing natural spaces in your neighborhood. Proposals for project funding may be submitted through the grant application site now through January 15, 2020. Nature in the City plans to announce awards in early March 2020.

Nature in the City works to connect residents to nature while protecting and enhancing habitat for native plants and animals. Projects within the Fort Collins City Limits and the Growth Management Area are encouraged to apply and will be given full consideration. Top priorities for funding include projects that demonstrate strong alignment with the program and City strategic plans and sit within the City Limits.

Learn more about funding priorities, and find step-by-step guidance to applying, on the Nature in the City webpage.

Learn more and apply

Making a Difference: Laura Paulso

Our volunteer of the month, Laura Paulso helped all summer with the ROOTS program. As a mental health professional, her contributions were invaluable. She chose to share one of her favorite quotes answering why she volunteers for the Natural Areas Department:

“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don't go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.”

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes from Women Who Run With the Wolves

Photo: D. Wendt

Volunteer Opportunities

Winter Activities in Natural Areas
On the rare occasions when there is enough snow, 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.
Paved trails are plowed. At natural areas with paved trails that are plowed, visitors on skis/snowshoes must stay within 10 feet of the paved trail.
Sledding is not allowed as it damages vegetation and causes erosion.
Ice-skating is permitted only on the southwest corner of Merganser Pond in Prospect Ponds Natural Area.
Sites at higher elevation such as Bobcat Ridge may hold snow longer than lower elevation areas.

Skygazing This Friday

Come look for stars, planets and other space delights on Friday, December 6 at 7:00 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. Dress for cold temperatures.You are welcome to bring blankets and chairs. Heated restroom available. Visit for updates. Free, no registration required but if you sign up at you'll get a reminder and updates such as cancellations.

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.

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