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This newsletter was originally sent on Jul 7, 2015.
July 2015
Naturally Yours
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Introducing Topminnow Natural Area

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The City of Fort Collins has selected “Topminnow Natural Area” as the new name for a 40-acre natural area in southeast Fort Collins. Topminnow Natural Area is located on the south side of Horsetooth Road between Ziegler and Strauss Cabin Road. The Natural Areas Department has plans to reintroduce three fish species: plains topminnow, northern redbelly dace and brassy minnow. The dace and minnow are classified by Colorado Parks and Wildlife as endangered and threatened, respectively. They are also listed as species of greatest conservation need in Colorado’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy and Wildlife Action Plans. Read the news release here.

Volunteer Wetland Planting This Saturday

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Dig in to help restore newly designated Topminnow Natural Area! Volunteers will be greening up the site of a former gravel mine on East Horsetooth Road by planting wetland species. Join the fun, Saturday, July 11, 9 a.m. to noon OR 1-4 p.m. Two shifts are offered, volunteer for one or both! Family-friendly, volunteers under 16 must be accompanied by an adult, 18+, snacks and materials provided. Free, registration required in NatureTracker (You must create an account or login) or call 970-416-2815.

Bison Calf Born

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It’s a boy! In a pasture on Colorado State University’s Foothills Campus, at 11:35 a.m. on Friday June 5, bison cow No. 50 delivered a 45-pound male calf after a hard two-hour labor. And it’s no ordinary bison baby, if that were possible in 2015.
This sturdy, tawny-colored calf is destined for a home on the range: He is the first calf born this spring and bound for the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd, which soon will roam Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, owned by City of Fort Collins and Red Mountain Open Space, owned by Larimer County. See a 2 minute video about the project here.

Thank you volunteers! More than 80 volunteers removed fence in mid-June on Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space to prepare the properties for a pasture where bison will be reintroduced this fall.Volunteers removed roughly six miles of fence over two days. The existing fence needed to be taken down to prepare the site for the reintroduction of American bison to the properties. New fencing will be erected to create a roughly 1,000-acre pasture where about a dozen bison will be released on these historic grazing grounds on Nov. 1.

River Restoration Video Released

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Restoration that creates a more diverse, resilient and healthy Cache la Poudre river corridor is a lasting conservation legacy for the Fort Collins community, the river and the river's wildlife.  Innovative river restoration projects are underway right now. You are part of this inspirational work! A new 3-minute video produced by Roothouse Studio of Boulder, Colorado, reveals the case for river restoration through real photos, time-lapse photography, and video animation. See the video on the City’s YouTube channel, https://youtu.be/Z2uKS0S82q4 . Learn more about the projects at North Shields Ponds and McMurry natural areas websites.  

@FCNaturalAreas

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Natural Areas is on Facebook and Twitter! Like us or follow us to get real time trail information, upcoming activity announcements, wildlife photos, and lots more fun stuff. A recent tweet said; "Ryan McDonald's senior project video (10 min) features Natural Areas Botanist Crystal Strouse Nice work!" a recent facebook post said "National Trails Day volunteers built 1,400 feet of trail at Soapstone Prairie. Thank you volunteers!" and included photos.

Free Upcoming Activities

Nature Nuggets: Duck, Duck, Goose, Thursday, July 9, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. - noon, and also repeated Thursday, July 23, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. - noon, Nix Native Plant Garden at Kingfisher Point Natural Area, 1745 Hoffman Mill Road. Bring your little ones (ages 3-7) to learn about nature with stories and hands-on activities. Parent/guardian must stay with your child; you get to join in the fun! You may bring a picnic lunch or snacks to enjoy afterwards if you like. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com.

Artists’ Day in the Field, Friday, July 10, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at the north parking lot. For new and experienced artists: Hike the Towhee Trail and sketch or paint the wildlife and scenery in the footsteps of Edwin Cassedy, the Smithsonian artist for the famous Lindenmeier excavation. Bring plenty of water, food, sun protection, and any other comforts you may need. Wear sturdy footwear and of course, bring your choice of art supplies! Free, REGISTRATION REQUIRED at naturetracker.fcgov.com or call 970-416-2815.

Scenery Stories: From Shore to Ocean Depths, Tuesday, July 14, 9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Coyote Ridge Natural Area, meet in the parking lot. Hike with a friendly and fun geologist to the top of Coyote Ridge to discover the Cretaceous Seaway. 4 miles; moderate. Free, REGISTRATION REQUIRED at naturetracker.fcgov.com or call 970-416-2815.

Rustic Women of Soapstone Prairie, Wednesday, July 15, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at the north parking lot. Learn about three historical women who homesteaded at Soapstone Prairie and get a glimpse of pioneer life on the prairie. 0.5 miles on paved trail; easy. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com.

Stroller Strolls, Wednesday, July 22, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area, meet at the shelter next to the parking lot. Head off on adventure––toddler style! Bring your child (under 3 years old), stroller, and snacks to explore from the ground up in a kid-friendly natural area. Free, REGISTRATION REQUIRED at naturetracker.fcgov.com or call 970-416-2815.

Restoration Along the River, Tuesday, July 28, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. McMurry Natural Area, meet at the parking lot at the west end of Hemlock St. Join a natural areas environmental planner on a trip along the Poudre River. Discover how the Natural Areas Department is bringing new life to the Poudre and its floodplain. 1-2 miles; easy. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com.

Day Hike: Explore the Crown Jewel, Wednesday, July 29, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at the north parking lot. Travel the Mahogany Loop and enjoy beautiful vistas and interesting natural and cultural history. 5 miles; moderate. Bring plenty of water, food, sun protection, and any other comforts you may need. Wear sturdy footwear. Unprepared individuals may be denied participation for safety. Free, REGISTRATION REQUIRED at naturetracker.fcgov.com or call 970-416-2815.

This is just a partial list- use the NatureTracker calendar (no login required) at https://naturetracker.fcgov.com/Calendar to see all upcoming events.

Grassland Restoration: We've Come a Long Way!

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The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department initiated restoration actions on the grasslands of Kingfisher Point Natural Area in 2003.  The restoration process began by burning and plowing non-native smooth brome fields and seeding native grasses. It has been among the most successful conversions from smooth brome to native grass.  The overwhelming success of western wheatgrass wasn't anticipated. It is now understood that although native, western wheatgrass can dominate a grassland and limit grass and forb (wildflower) diversity. Birds don't use the western wheatgrass fields either- that is most likely because limited diversity in vegetation structure limits foraging opportunities and nesting sites.

In February of 2015, restoration continued with controlled burns and seeding of native warm-season grasses and forbs. Mowing will continue frequently through the summer.  The intent is to stress the western wheatgrass while promoting opportunities (growing space) for warm season grasses and forbs.

Visitors that pass the site can learn about it too- check out the new restoration informational sign along the Poudre Trail between Timberline and Lemay (pictured above).

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 Shark, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Community Relations Manager, 970-221-6311 or zshark@fcgov.com.

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