Natural Areas Enews

Long View Trail Grand Opening
Saturday, August 18, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Ribbon Cutting at 10 a.m. at Sunset Vista Natural Area 

We’re connected! Long View Trail is the newest addition to the trail system in Larimer County, connecting Fort Collins and Loveland through a 4.4-mile stretch of paved recreational trail. Long View Trail runs parallel to Shields Street in Fort Collins and Taft Avenue in Loveland, ending at Sunset Vista Natural Area on 57th Street and Taft Avenue. Join the City of Fort Collins, City of Loveland, and Larimer County to celebrate the Grand Opening of Long View Trail and the opening of Hazaleus and Colina Mariposa natural areas to the public. Visit stations along the trail 8-11 a.m. with a ribbon cutting at at 10 a.m. Learn more at http://bit.ly/LongViewTrail.

City Comments on Northern Integrated Supply Project

For well over a decade, the City of Fort Collins has participated in the permit review process for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP).  In late June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project.  Fort Collins plans to evaluate and submit comments on the FEIS.  The comments will examine NISP’s impacts on river health and City assets and explore ways to lessen NISP’s impacts through mitigation and long-term river management. While the City of Fort Collins has no approval authority over NISP’s federal and state permits, providing comments based on sound science and the potential impacts to the City’s assets may positively influence the outcomes of NISP. 

Comments may be provided directly to the Army Corps, and you can learn more about the City’s response here.

Roundhouse Renewable Energy Project Open House

You are invited to learn more and comment about the Roundhouse Renewable Energy Project and its associated transmission line at an open house:

Wednesday, August 15, 4-7 p.m.
Northside Aztlan Community Center, 112 E. Willow St. Fort Collins, Eagle Room 3

Roundhouse Renewable Energy, the project developer, together with the City of Fort Collins will host the open house. At the event, residents can learn about and comment upon the project including the proposed transmission route alternatives under consideration to deliver the 150-megawatt wind farm’s energy.  The Roundhouse Renewable Energy Project would be a significant step toward achieving the renewable energy goals in the Fort Collins Climate Action Plan. Approximately nine miles of the transmission line is proposed to be located on City-owned Meadow Springs Ranch.

City Council will be asked to approve an easement on Meadow Springs Ranch to successfully complete the project. A cooperating letter of support will also be considered in support of Larimer County’s 1041 process.

Comments from the open house and the online feedback opportunity (available after the 8/15 Open House) will be shared with area regulators, including City of Fort Collins City Council. 

Wetland Restoration Begins at Kingfisher Point
At Kingfisher Point Natural Area's Gadwall Pond, you'll see restoration underway for the next few months. Instead of steep banks, a more natural and gently sloping wetland edge is being created. You'll see heavy equipment re-grading the northeast side of the pond. Then this fall, wetland plants will be installed. The plants were grown from seeds that were collected by Natural Areas volunteers, thank you! The plant mix is designed to support pollinators and other native wildlife. The new habitat will host a variety of waterfowl, marsh birds, native bees, and butterflies. When the project is finished there will be an additional two acres of wetlands and three acres of upland shrub and grass thicket at Kingfisher Point Natural Area. No trail closures will be necessary.

First Colorado Record of Baird's Sparrows Breeding
Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department have confirmed that Baird's Sparrows are actively breeding at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, a first-ever record of the species reproducing in Colorado.

The finding is remarkable because the heart of Bairds sparrows' breeding range is hundreds of miles away in northeastern Montana, western North Dakota, and southern Canada. This discovery indicates that this grassland specialist species, which has been declining for decades, has the ability to nest very far away from its typical range. The discovery is evidence that the goal of maintaining a healthy, intact grassland ecosystem is being achieved at Soapstone Prairie.

Birders wishing to see or hear Baird's Sparrows can try looking for them by parking at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area’s South Parking Lot then taking the southern portion of the Pronghorn Trail. At the Pronghorn/Plover junction, head south to an area of taller grass.
Learn more

Bison Management Plan Published
A new plan highlights the goals, priorities, actions, and adaptive management for the Laramie Foothills Conservation Herd, made up of 54 brucellosis-free and genetically valuable bison at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space. The herd contributes to the conservation and genetic integrity of the species while assisting with ecosystem management goals set forth by the City of Fort Collins and Larimer County. The plan documents the herd's history and sets the vision for the future.
Read the Bison Management Plan

Hike to the A at Maxwell Natural Area
On Sunday, August 19, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. you'll see 800+ new Colorado State University students exploring their outdoorsy home by hiking to "the A" and Maxwell Natural Area. Natural Areas staff and volunteers will be on-hand to educate about Leave No Trace principles and to monitor the activity. Visitors may want to avoid the trail at this time to avoid congestion.

Free Upcoming Activities

Homesteading at Soapstone Prairie, Thursday, August 16, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Harmony Library Community Room, 4616 S. Shields St. These informative talks are designed for adults to learn more about research and science related to natural areas. Learn about late 19th and early 20th century homesteading. Bring a snack if you like. 16+. Free, registration required at fcgov.com/register

Skygazing at Fossil Creek Reservoir * Special Program, Friday, August 17, 8:00 – 10:30 p.m. Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area, meet at the parking lot. Learn about the speed of light through an interactive model of our solar system! The program will begin at 8:00 p.m. followed by skygazing. Volunteers from the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society provide telescopes for your viewing pleasure and share their knowledge about stars, planets, galaxies, and more. Dress warmly and bring a blanket or chair to sit on. Meet in the parking lot. Free, registration required at fcgov.com/register

Soapstone Treasures: The Bison-Archaeology Connection! Saturday, August 18, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at the south parking lot shelter. Learn about the acquisition of Soapstone Prairie, the history of the American Bison, and the treasures uncovered at the Lindenmeier archaeological site. Bring water, food, sun protection, and any other comforts you might need. 16+. Free, registration required at fcgov.com/register

A Thousand Years of History on the Poudre River, Saturday, August 18, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. Heritage Park, meet behind the Northside Aztlan Community Center. Consider the origins of the Cache la Poudre River and explore both the history and future of people along the river. Bring water, sun protection, and any other comforts you might need. 1-2 miles; easy. Free, registration required at fcgov.com/register

Ecosystem Wonders, Saturday, August 25, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Riverbend Ponds Natural Area, meet at the parking lot. This diverse ecosystem provides riparian forests, ponds, river views, diverse grasses, and many birds. Journal through drawing and writing what delights your eyes and heart. No art experience required! Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Bring drinking water, a snack if you like, and something to sit on (a stool, jacket, pad, etc.). Feel free to bring your own art supplies or borrow ours.0.5 miles; easy. 9+. Free, registration required at fcgov.com/register

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 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