This newsletter was originally sent on Mar 4, 2014.
MARCH 2014
Naturally Yours
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Spring Break Activities


Wild Birthday Party, Wednesday, March 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (during Poudre School District spring break) and Wednesday, April 2, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (during Thompson School District spring break).
As Fort Collins celebrates its 150th birthday, the wildlife in your natural areas invite families to join them at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area for traditional birthday games and activities with a wildlife twist.  Each child will take home a handmade party favor. An optional 2-mile, round-trip hike, led by a volunteer Master Naturalist, will be offered at 10:30 a.m. The hike will go to the pioneer cabin and include pioneer games and activities. Hike participants should bring along a sack lunch, water to drink, and a jacket. Participants may drop-in anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. All activities begin in the barn area near the parking lot. Free, no registration required, but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at

The Beauty of Birds, Thursday, March 20, 10-11 a.m.; repeated Thursday, April 3
Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area (meet at the program shelter near the parking lot, off Carpenter Road). Join a Master Naturalist for fun activities and information about birds, and then take a walk to the pier to look for birds with binoculars and a spotting scope. REGISTRATION REQUIRED at

“Give a Yip” for Prairie Dogs
Friday, March 21, 10-11 a.m.; repeated Friday, April 4.
Pineridge Natural Area (meet in the parking lot near Dixon Reservoir).
Learn about the fascinating communication system of prairie dogs and the meaning of some of their behaviors. Observe prairie dogs in action with binoculars. REGISTRATION REQUIRED at

City Wins Environmental Education Award


The Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education is recognizing exemplary and effective environmental education programs and individuals across Colorado who set the standard for quality learning in their communities. The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department (NAD) is among ten programs being acknowledged with an Award for Excellence in Environmental Education for their outstanding work in helping learners understand their role in the environment. In 2013, NAD directly reached 11,001 people through environmental education for the community through:
Community Programs- The NAD offers over 200 free activities, classes and special events for families and community members each year. Most are listed in the 39-page Tracks & Trails booklet, published annually in June.
School Programs- Free field trips for elementary school students to local natural area sites are offered, mostly in the spring and fall.
Programs by Request- Free, customized field trips or presentations for groups are provided at a mutually agreeable location, date and time.
Service Learning- One day stewardship volunteer projects such as planting trees, cleaning up litter or building trails all include an educational component.

Learn more >>>

Become a Master Naturalist


Looking for a rewarding volunteer experience while enjoying your natural areas? Become a volunteer Master Naturalist! Volunteering as a Master Naturalist means you will learn about ecology, public speaking skills, and lead a variety of programs (including school field trips) on the natural areas. Master Naturalists often form lasting friendships while socializing with other volunteers.

 Volunteer naturalists outreach opportunities are many and varied, and designed to fit all schedules. All the training is free (training is held on various dates, March 25-April 24, see job description). Class size is limited for this highly popular program. Application deadline is March 10, 2014.  Read the job description hereApply here >>>

Spring=Mud Season


Warm weather and melting snow create muddy trails, and that means trail closures at foothills natural areas such as Pineridge, Maxwell and Reservoir Ridge. The trails are closed to prevent trail and natural resource damage.  You can check on closures and trail conditions on the natural areas trail status page. The webpage is updated in real time, by rangers in the field, 7 days a week, so you get the most up to date information.

If you encounter mud at a natural area that is open, remember to walk through the mud, not around it, to prevent trail widening. You can think of your muddy shoes as a sign of your commitment to stewardship! This simple action makes a difference.

Paved trails are a good bet when soft surface trails are muddy.  Try the Fossil Creek Trail through Cathy Fromme Prairie, or the Poudre Trail from Kingfisher Point Natural Area to the CSU Environmental Learning Center. Several sections of the Poudre Trail are currently closed, get details here.

Gateway Fee Waived Due to Bridge Closure


Gateway Natural Area is a great place for fishing, a picnic, or enjoying the natural playground for children. Parking is $5 March-November, and free in December-February. A bridge adjacent to the Gateway Natural Area boundary provides access to state and federal public land.  The bridge was damaged in the floods of September, 2013 and is closed. So this year, there is a courtesy extension of free parking, until May 1st (or earlier if the Gateway bridge is repaired prior to May 1st). Fees will resume on May 1st even if the bridge is not completed.



Saturday, March 8, 7-9 p.m. at Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area. Enjoy the night sky with telescopes and friendly, knowledgeable volunteers from Northern Colorado Astronomical Society.  Check for weather cancelation information. Free, no registration required.


naturalareaslogo.gif Natural Areas News is published on the first Tuesday of the month with occasional special editions. 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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