This newsletter was originally sent on Aug 8, 2013.
August 2013
Naturally Yours
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Best Dark Natural Areas


 Our dark night sky is disappearing in many cities around the globe. In addition to enjoying the beauty of the stars, darkness is important to many animals and plants. Recently a team of volunteers visited seven natural areas armed with light meters, data sheets, and cameras. Justin Scharton, Natural Areas Environmental Planner, and Deborah Price, Community Programs Educator, provided training for the group, and the National Parks Service Night Sounds and Night Skies staff provided support and equipment- thank you!  Of the seven areas where readings were taken, Soapstone Prairie was the darkest, followed by Bobcat Ridge. Sky with the most light was recorded at Riverbend Ponds, but it was still significantly darker there than in downtown Fort Collins. Reservoir Ridge was third darkest, followed by Fossil Creek Reservoir, and Red Fox Meadows. The Natural Areas Department hopes to continue the project each year to monitor the effect of light on our night skies. Enjoy the darkness at Skygazing at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space, Saturday August 17, 8:30-10:30 p.m., no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at . Thank you Jeremy White, NPS for the photo of Bobcat Ridge and the Milky Way.

New Trail Route at Reservoir Ridge


The trail on the east side of Reservoir Ridge Natural Area has been rerouted so a severely eroded section can be restored.  The new trail has a sustainable alignment and was built with volunteer power! Thank you to volunteers from Otterbox, Colorado Addicted to Trailbuilding Society (CATS), and Overland Mountain Bike Club!

Meet Our First Jr. Naturalist


Kainoa Hylands, age 5, is the first child to complete the new Junior Naturalist program offered through the Natural Areas Department.  Kainoa received a certificate and a beautiful embossed owl pin to put on his jacket.  Congratulations, Kainoa!  The Junior Naturalist program is designed for ages 5 and up. Junior Naturalist forms can be found in page 17 of Tracks & Trails (pdf). 

Save the Date


Fall brings many fun outdoor events.  You'll want to mark your calendar for these special activities!

  • Poudre River Downtown Project Open House, Thursday, September 5, 6- 8 p.m. at the Lincoln Center, Columbine Room, 417 W. Magnolia St. Learn about opportunities and constraints along the Cache la Poudre River corridor from Shields Street to Mulberry Street.  Review and give input on concepts for improving recreation, habitat and stormwater mitigation. Special presentation about kayaking opportunities and constraints (5-6 p.m. in Founders Room).  Free, no registration required. Learn more about the city's projects along the river here.
  • NoCo Nature Festival, Saturday, September 21, 7 a.m.- 3 p.m. at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space. Come spread your wings and branch out with a new festival that celebrates the unique nature of Northern Colorado. The Northern Colorado Birding Fair is getting a new name, a new date and a whole lot more pizzazz!
  • National Public Lands Day Tree Planting, Saturday, September 28, 9 a.m.- noon at Arapaho Bend Natural Area.  Free, Registration Required at REI.

Free Things to Do in August


Water for All- Saturday, August 10, 9-10:30 a.m., Udall Natural Area, meet at Udall entrance on Lincoln; parking along Lincoln or at Buckingham Park, 101 First Street. Explore this newly opened natural area to learn how the Natural Areas Department and Fort Collins Utilities co-manage it for water quality, flood control, and wildlife habitat. Ponds here provide habitat for birds, animals, and wetland plants before water enters the Poudre River. ½ mile, easy. No registration required, but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at

Smithsonian at Soapstone, Sunday, August 18, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at north parking lot. Hear about the Smithsonian visit to Soapstone Prairie in the 1930s and learn about the excavation of this important archaeological site. ½ mile paved trail, easy. No registration required, but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at

Nature Nuggets—Busy Beavers, Thursday, August 29, 10-11 a.m., Magpie Meander Natural Area, meet at Soft Gold Park parking lot. Bring your little ones (ages 3-7 years) to learn about nature’s amazing little architects and visit a beaver lodge. Includes hands-on activities. Parents/guardians must be present at all times. No registration required, but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at  Daycare centers and other groups should schedule a separate time.

These are just highlights!  A complete list of August activities is posted here >>>.

Twenty Years of Natural Areas

It has been two decades since the first citizen-initated sales tax that funds natural areas. Voters have approved sales tax funding four more times since then, thank you! Fort Collins has conserved over 40,000 acres with 39 natural areas to explore and over 100 miles of trail. Everyone is invited to help celebrate the 20th anniversary, join the fun!

Now-November Tracks & Trails (Your Guide to Free Activities and Events on Natural Areas) features an outstanding season of outdoor fun, service and learning! A junior naturalist booklet and the Natural Areas Passport is included too. Activities will also be announced here and at


naturalareaslogo.gif Natural Areas News is published on the first Tuesday of the month with occasional special editions- we apologize that this edition is late! Newsletter comments are welcome. Please contact Zoe Whyman, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Community Relations Manager, 970-221-6311 or

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