Natural Areas Enews
Nature is Open
We thought these tips from the Outdoor Alliance were relevant!

02 You can go outside. Cautiously. Don’t go out if you’re sick or have been in contact with those who have been sick. Keep a safe distance from others. That includes in the car. Groups are out. Consider avoiding busy areas and times of day. Wash your hands. Follow CDC guidelines carefully.

03 Stay close to home. Like, as close as possible. Far away places or that recreation town an hour down the road are wonderful, but the further you travel, the more potential you have to spread the illness. Shop and recreate in your neighborhood.

04 Keep it chill. Its not a good time to get hurt. Healthcare systems are overwhelmed or soon will be. Please do not add to the burden,

05 Respect closures and be a good steward. If parks are closed, don’t go. If parks are open, be mindful that areas might have limited maintenance. Pack out your trash, use the restroom before you leave the house. Check state guidelines and closures.

Trail conditions website

Try These Trails
Natural areas are being visited much more than usual.
Remember that all restrooms and gathering spots such as group picnic areas are closed.
Here are some "hidden gems" to explore:

Grasslands Secret Back Door- Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area features beautiful open grasslands, views of the foothills and a wide paved trail that connects to miles of additional trails (such as Long View Trail and Spring Creek Trail). The parking lot on Shields Street is often filled to capacity, so try the entrance off of Fromme Prairie Way which rarely is full (take Harmony to Seneca to Fromme Prairie Way, address is 1999 Fromme Prairie Way, Fort Collins).

Ponds & Historic Fire Tower Cab- Running Deer Natural Area features flat trails near the Poudre River that pass by several ponds. A nice destination is the White Pine Fire Lookout. The top (or cab) was part of the fire lookout tower located on White Pine Mountain, west of Fort Collins until 1967. It has been stabilized by volunteers and it serves as a wildlife viewing pavilion now. To reach the cab, use the Colorado Welcome Center trailhead (3745 Prospect Rd.) and follow the trail southwest about 1 mile to the cab. No dogs are allowed at Running Deer. 

Anywhere Before 9 a.m.- Try visiting trails at off-peak hours and in less than perfect weather conditions. Weekends are busy 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., especially at foothills sites such as Bobcat Ridge, Coyote Ridge, Reservoir Ridge, Pineridge, and Maxwell natural areas so please avoid these. Try weekday mornings or weekends after 5 p.m.

Photo: Running Deer Natural Area by Mark Yoder.
Find a new natural area to visit

Be Snake Awake
A rattlesnake was reported at Maxwell Natural Area during the first week of April. Rattlesnakes are ecologically important and do not want to encounter humans. If you see a snake, stop, warn others in the area and wait for it to move away.
Learn more about rattlesnake safety

Natural Areas 2019 Annual Report
Each year the Natural Areas Department shares its accomplishments, revenues, and expenditures. The 2019 edition of the report is an eye-catching infographic.
2019 Annual Report

Nature in the City Grants Awarded

In late 2019, Nature in the City reopened its granting opportunity, fielding ideas from residents looking to convert their front yards, school playgrounds, and community open space into natural spaces. The grant program provides an opportunity to forge public/private partnerships by funding projects that integrate diverse, native landscapes throughout the urban core. These community-driven projects provide an important opportunity for ensuring all residents have access to nature. As the community grows, these partnerships play an increasingly important role in demonstrating both the ecological and aesthetic value of native plants and naturalized landscapes. 

There was tremendous interest from the community. This year was the most competitive review process to date with 41 different project submissions, representing more than $450,000 worth of project ideas. In total, $195,000 will be distributed across 22 projects in the year ahead. This will nearly double the total number of Nature in the City projects, increasing habitat, connectivity, and access to nature throughout the city. 

You Can Be A Community Scientist
Northern Colorado needs your help in the 2020 City Nature Challenge!
Cities around the world will be posting observations of nature and engaging people in their outdoor surroundings in late April.

You can photograph the newly sprouting dandelions in your grass, or the catnip growing in your flower beds! Leave your porch light on after dark and see what kinds of tiny moths arrive! Take a photo of that pesky squirrel that is engaged in a stare down with your pet!

From April 24-27, 2020, you can make observations like these using the free inaturalist app and they will be automatically added to NoCo's tally.

We'd like to encourage you to take some time and SAFELY enjoy nature, whether that means a greenbelt near your home (ensuring 6 ft physical distance!), your backyard, or by watching birds on your feeder through a window. And when you do these things, be sure to post your findings to iNaturalist!
Learn more

Volunteer Duo of the Month

Jon and Ellen adopt Goose Hollow Natural Area, they are our Volunteer Duo of the Month for April.

When we asked why they volunteer, they said:
We often travel far and wide to seek novelty when, if we look close enough, we can find it in our own backyards! Volunteering with Natural Areas causes me to re-visit the same spot month after month. It's something I normally wouldn't do on my own. But, it helps me look deeper at the subtle, and sometimes, not so subtle changes occurring in nature. Also, focusing my attention to look for trash has the added benefit of sharpening my attention on the natural world. It forces me to slow down and really pay attention.
- Jon

I have been inspired over the years by the people who live in Fort Collins; their sense of community spirit and the contributions they make to their neighbors. I volunteer for Natural Areas because it is a concrete way that I can join my neighbors in caring for our community. Much of the day to day work that I do is internal and abstract; picking up litter in Goose Hollow brings me into the moment and gives me the opportunity to immediately see the benefit of my actions. There is a sense of satisfaction to that type of activity that is valuable and meaningful for me. And I get to do it while walking in the outdoors, one of my favorite activities! - Ellen

Volunteer Opportunities

Get Outside in Your Own Yard

With the wonderful spring weather and stay-at-home orders, gardening can provide you with well needed physical and mental health benefits! An added bonus? You can help create habitat for pollinators and small animals, bringing the benefits of nature right to your yard!

Here’s a few ideas for your yard’s nature in April from a recent post by the National Garden Bureau.

  • Redesign your front yard with low maintenance garden tips. Research native plants that grow well in Colorado and make a plan for spring renewal.
  • Start some seeds. It is so rewarding to check each morning to see if something spouted.
  • Take an online class about plants or gardens, or watch some webinars on creating wildlife friendly gardening. 
  • Pull out the garden or plant books you bought in the past and read them! 
  • Make a new houseplant arrangement or take this time to groom and repot your plants. 
  • Join plant or garden groups on social media.
  • No yard? Plan a new group of containers for your deck, porch or patio!
  • Help connect a young person to the natural world. Plan a children’s garden or have them work on a pollinator coloring book.
Sugar Beet Park pollinator garden pictured.
Native plants website

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