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Natural Areas Annual Report

Contact Information

  •   Dept Head: John Stokes
Reaching Toward the Future
McMurray Natural Area
Coyote Ridge Natural Area, a site close to home

City Council directed expansion of the Land Conservation Plan to include "regional" land conservation, in response to the Open Space Yes! Citizen Initiative passed by voters in 2002 and public input received in 2002 and 2003.

City Council adopted a resolution that:

  • Added a "regional" focus to the Natural Areas Policy Plan
  • Approved the Land Conservation Focus Areas Map - general guide for future land conservation
  • Established the following considerations to be evaluated prior to land acquisition
    • Willingness of property owner to sell
    • Recreation opportunities
    • Ecological value (e.g., wildlife and habitat)
    • Cost of acquisition
    • Long-term stewardship costs
    • Geographic proximity to Fort Collins
    • Expected threat to the integrity of the natural resource values of a property

Bobcat Ridge Natural Area
Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, a regional site
Also in 2003, at City Council’s direction staff prepared the Framework for Future Land Conservation. The "Framework" envisions a future where our community identity is protected by open lands between surrounding communities, where local natural areas are numerous and close to home, and where after a short drive to regional natural areas, residents can hike through a red rock canyon, stand in the middle of a prairie and gaze at an uninterrupted view of the mountains, or climb to the top of the foothills to look out over Fort Collins.

Land conservation is accomplished through the purchase of lands, acceptance of donated lands, and purchase or donation of conservation easements. Lands are acquired solely by the Natural Areas Program or in partnership with other City departments, or in partnership with other entities (e.g., Larimer County).

The Fort Collins Natural Areas Program manages most, but not all, of the land it conserves. The program currently manages 10,500 acres. Lands conserved by conservation easements are managed by property owners who continue existing operations (often farming or ranching). For future regional land conservation, the City will acquire and manage lands, will partner with other entities (e.g., Larimer County) to purchase and management lands, and will acquire conservation easements with the land remaining under private management.

Land Conservation Areas