Natural Areas Enews

Lunar Eclipse Sunday, January 20

Everyone is invited to join volunteers from Northern Colorado Astronomical Society who will be available with large telescopes and lots of information about the eclipse and night sky. Shadows on the moon start at 8:35 p.m. with totality from 9:41--10:43 p.m. Dress for cold temperatures. You are welcome to bring blankets and chairs. Heated restroom available. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at All participants must leave by midnight. Image by Greg Halac.

NOTE: Do NOT use Google Maps or Map Quest. The entrance to Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area is on Carpenter Road/ CR 32, approximately one mile west of I-25, or two miles east of Timberline on the north side of Carpenter Road

Visit N. Colorado Astronomical Society for updates

FC Innovates Recognizes ROOTS Club
ROOTS is a youth-driven environmental leadership club for ages 14-17 that focuses on self-discovery, community engagement, service, and career pathways. The club’s mission is to inspire and cultivate a resilient community of the next generation through leadership, meaningful mentorship, service and education which enhances personal and community-wide values that have a positive impact on the natural world. The founders of the club, Diane Wendt, Natural Areas Stewardship Volunteer Coordinator and Alex McHenry, Education Specialist were recognized by the City's Innovation Awards for creatively using a collective impact approach, providing the youth with repeat experiences, and tailoring the club to the participants’ needs. Applications for ROOTS 2019 will be available in mid-April.
Learn more about ROOTS Club

Land Conserved in 2018

Prairie Dog Meadows Natural Area Expansion

In May, Prairie Dog Meadows Natural Area was expanded by 3.5 acres. The land was purchased for $200,000 and was occupied by the Larimer Humane Society since 1974. All the structures were removed prior to the sale. The Humane Society parcel was nearly surrounded by Prairie Dog Meadows, so it was a priority for conservation.  After acquisition, the new land was regraded and seeded with native grasses to blend in with the natural area.

Rimrock Conservation Easement

A conservation easement on 319.7 acres immediately adjacent to Larimer County's Blue Sky Trail and Rimrock Open Space was acquired in January. Natural Areas partnered with Larimer County and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to acquire the property from the family who owned the ranch since 1964. The Natural Areas Department contributed funding to Larimer County’s fee purchase and the City will hold the GOCO-required conservation easement. The ranch is primarily agricultural and supports dryland wheat and alfalfa crops and livestock grazing. Rimrock Conservation Easement is within the Foothills/ Buckhorn/ Redstone conservation focus area designated in the Land Conservation and Stewardship Master Plan.

Maxwell Natural Area Addition (pictured above)

Just over 53 acres of grasslands and shrublands adjacent to the Foothills Trail and Maxwell Natural Area were acquired in April. The State Board of Agriculture (CSU’s predecessor) acquired the property in 1940 and used it for livestock grazing. The property falls within the Foothills/ Buckhorn/ Redstone conservation focus area designated in the Land Conservation and Stewardship Master Plan. A variety of wildlife frequents the newly conserved land including mule deer and mountain lions.

Poudre River Conservation Easement

A 72-acre site that has been on Natural Areas potential conservation list for more than a decade was protected from development in September. The ranch is used for agriculture and livestock grazing. A bargain sale meant that the City contributed $200,000 towards the total $950,000 conservation easement value and the landowner will pursue state tax credits for the remaining $750,000 of the donation. The property is within the Poudre River Corridor conservation focus area designated in the Land Conservation and Stewardship Master Plan.

Gateway Natural Area Fee Increases
Gateway Natural Area is the kind of place you will want to bring your family for a day in the mountains and definitely a place you will be proud to say is part of Fort Collins. Gateway Natural Area (formerly Gateway Mountain Park) is where the North Fork of the Poudre River joins the main Poudre River. Visitors enjoy it because its tucked away from the noise of Highway 14 and Gateway is only 15 miles from Fort Collins! You'll find hiking trails, a designated launch area for kayaks and canoes, fishing, picnic tables with grills, informational kiosks and a natural playground.

The daily parking fee at Gateway Natural Area increased to $7 in 2019 (check, cash or credit card), year-round. An annual pass ($40) is available and can be purchased at the Natural Areas Department, 1745 Hoffman Mill Road (8-5 M-F, check or credit card only) or at the Gateway Natural Area Office (hours vary, credit card or check).

Gateway Natural Area's website

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:

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

Applications are due January 30.

Apply to be a Volunteer Ranger Assistant!

Foothills Natural Areas Management Plan Update

The management plan that applies to Coyote Ridge, Pineridge, Maxwell and Reservoir Ridge natural areas and the Foothills Trail is due for an update in 2019. Everyone will be invited to a fun, interactive event in March. We will keep you posted as more details are set.

Between now and the event in March, Natural Areas staff is gathering information to inform the management plan. A scientifically valid survey found that the demographics of the Fort Collins community are not reflected in foothills natural areas visitors. Outreach before the open house is designed to understand the barriers to visiting foothills natural areas for underrepresented community members. The results of these efforts will be available at the event in March.

Learn more about the Foothills Natural Areas Management Plan

Eagle Watches Now Through Mid-February

Everyone is invited to look for the bald eagles that make Fort Collins their winter home. They spend nights in communal roosts in cottonwood trees near Fossil Creek Reservoir. Volunteer Master Naturalists are stationed at Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area's viewing pier to 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.

Eagle Watches at Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area 

Friday, January 4, 3:30-5 p.m.

Saturday, January 5, 3:30-5 p.m.

Friday, January 11, 3:30- 5 p.m.

Saturday, January 12, 3:30-5 p.m.

Friday, January 18, 3:30- 5 p.m.

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