Natural Areas Enews

Ribbon Cutting for Fossil Creek Trail at Redtail Grove Natural Area

Everyone is invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Fossil Creek Trail connection between Shields St. and College Ave. on Monday, December 10, at 10 a.m. to celebrate the opening of this major connection in the City's paved trail system.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 10am (pdf invitation), on the west side of the BNSF tunnel underpass, Redtail Grove Natural Area.

Construction at Kingfisher Point Natural Area

Restoration projects are one example of how residents and the Natural Areas Department conserve and care for natural areas now and for future generations. The restoration project at Kingfisher Point will connect a stretch of the Cache la Poudre River to its floodplain and improve habitat. 

Visitors to the Poudre Trail might see heavy equipment and construction, but no trail closures are necessary.

The Cache la Poudre River ecosystem relies on high water in the spring, so by lowering steep river banks, the flows can nourish the surrounding corridor and bring in native cottonwood seeds. With the natural process restored, about eight acres of new native cottonwood forest are expected to be established. Additionally, non-native trees will be removed and replaced with natives providing habitat for wildlife. Work in the river channel aims to improve fish and aquatic insect habitat. 

Learn more and see before and "after" photos

Seeking Volunteer Ranger Assistants

Are you looking for a way to give back to the outdoors? Are you committed to land stewardship and public enjoyment of natural areas? Do you enjoy the outdoors and talking with others? Are you looking for meaningful volunteer service? Become a Volunteer Ranger Assistant!

Volunteer Ranger Assistants participate in about 20 hours of training. Training topics include the values of natural areas and open lands, basic ecology, managing visitor use, outdoor safety, conflict management and responding to emergency situations. Read the full job description. 

Training dates are:

  • Tues., February 19, 2019 6-9 p.m.
  • Thurs., February 21, 2019 6-8 p.m.
  • Sat., February 23, 2019 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Apply to be a Volunteer Ranger Assistant!

Poudre River Corridor Designated an Important Bird Area
The year 2018 was the Year of the Bird and as part of the effort to celebrate and protect birds, the city-owned urban natural areas along the Cache la Poudre River were designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society and by City Council resolution 2018-058. These natural areas conserve unique habitat that supports birds and other wildlife. While the designation comes with no regulatory authority, it recognizes the conservation value of the natural areas. The goals of the Important Bird Area program are to identify the most essential areas for birds, monitor those sites for changes to birds or habitat, and to conserve the areas for long-term protection of biodiversity.

Nature in the City: Winter Yard Tips

While perhaps not obvious at first glance, your personal natural space can be beautiful, functional, and fun throughout the winter. Remember our fall tip to leave plants un-cut and to keep the space a little messy with leaves and a brush pile? This is where all that work you didn’t have to do pays off (even more!). The stems you didn’t cut back create a toasty blanket that helps roots stay warm. They also provide an extra shot of energy to help fuel underground activity as plants overwinter. Additionally, seed heads and fruit provide crucial food sources for birds and other animals to survive the harsh winter.

While visiting your garden this time of year, you’re getting extra health benefits too! Fresh air, sunshine (vitamin D boost anyone?), and interaction with nature can help lower blood pressure and decrease stress throughout the holiday season. Take a break and check out that artistic ice crystal mother nature created on a sleeping seed head.

While you’re staying cozy inside this winter, it’s never too early to begin planning your landscape improvements for the spring. If you’re thinking about creating a native garden in your space that’s both beautiful and beneficial to local wildlife, stay tuned for more details about Nature in the City’s native garden in a box, available in spring 2019!

Forum: What is a Healthy Working River? Pieces of the Puzzle

Is it possible for a working river to be a healthy river? This year’s Poudre River Forum will give you a chance to puzzle through that question. The Poudre Runs Through It Study/Action Work Group was formed to bring together those who are most concerned about the Poudre as a working river—delivering urban and agricultural economic benefits—and those concerned about the river’s health. Building relationships and finding common ground for action has lead to this annual Poudre River Forum. 

Friday, February 1, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Drake Centre, Fort Collins

Register now! Registration includes the full day’s program, as well as breakfast, lunch, and a closing celebration with opportunities to get to know other Poudre River enthusiasts. 

Nominations Accepted Until Dec. 12 for the Poudre Pioneer Award!
Learn more 

Change in Special Use Permits for Research
The Natural Areas Department's permit process is changing for those using natural areas for research. Due to limited staff time to review and approve the permits and the impacts of research on natural areas values, these new procedures are necessary.

In 2019, special use permit applications for research projects will be reviewed twice a year. Applications will be accepted year-round and will be held until the next review deadline: Feb. 4 and Sept. 3, 2019.

Thank you for your understanding as the Natural Areas Department works to balance conserving natural areas, limited staff time, and support for research.

Questions? Contact Michelle Vattano, 970-416-2815.

Learn more

Free Upcoming Activities

Skygazing, Friday, December 14, 7-9 p.m. at Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area. Each month 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 off Carpenter Road. Free, registration required. For weather updates, visit the NCAS website.

Eagle Watches start Friday, December 14, 3-4:30 p.m. Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area Bald eagles from the north make Fort Collins their winter home. They spend nights in communal roosts in cottonwood trees near the reservoir. Volunteer Master Naturalists are stationed at the viewing pier and explain the eagles’ natural history and help visitors view them through spotting scopes and binoculars. Eagle Watches require a short walk along a paved trail to a viewing pier. Drop in any time during these programs. Free and no registration is required, but if you sign up you'll receive email reminders and notices of cancellations. If temperatures are below freezing, or it’s windy or foggy, the Eagle Watches may be canceled.

Calendar of free activities

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