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This newsletter was originally sent on Oct 6, 2015.
October 2015
Naturally Yours
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Bison Welcome Home

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On Sunday, November 1, 2015 which is National Bison Day and the first day of Native American Heritage Month, plains bison will be reintroduced to Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space in a partnership between:

The herd of ten animals, called the Laramie Foothills Conservation Herd, is unique as it has successfully addressed three key challenges to bison conservation: genetics, disease and habitat.

Please join us Sunday, November 1, 10 a.m.- noon, for a Welcome Home Ceremony. You can see bison and enjoy family-friendly activities; remarks and project presentations at 11 a.m. At the National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Ave., CSU Foothills Campus. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com. We apologize but the field trip via bus following the ceremony is full, and no private vehicles are allowed due to parking limitations.

Bison Related Events

The History of the Yellowstone Bison Herd, Friday, October 9, 3:30-5 p.m., 215 N. Mason Community Room, please enter on the north side of the building. History and science converge with current events as you learn about the history of the Yellowstone bison herd from Jack Rhyan, of USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. You will be treated to the amazing story of how in the late 1800s several key individuals conserved bison which ultimately became the Yellowstone National Park herd. Descendants of these bison will be reintroduced to Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space on November 1. Free, REGISTRATION REQUIRED at naturetracker.fcgov.com or call 970-416-2815.

Science Behind the Scenery – Bringing Bison Back, Thursday, October 15, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. 215 N. Mason Community Room, please enter on the north side of the building.These informative talks are designed for adults to learn more about research and science related to natural areas. Parking is limited—please carpool, bike or walk. Bring a snack if you like. This evening's talk is: Bringing Bison Back. Discover the return of the American bison to Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space with Natural Area Department's Environmental Program Manager Daylan Figgs. Free, REGISTRATION REQUIRED at naturetracker.fcgov.com or call 970-416-2815.

Crowdfunding for the bison corral at Soapstone Prairie is underway, help make the goal by October 31 here.

Boardwalk Work at Riverbend Ponds

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The boardwalk near the Cherly Street parking lot of Riverbend Ponds Natural Area was in disrepair so it is being replaced.  The project will take several months, depending on weather. Please use the posted alternate route.

Free Upcoming Activities

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Campfire at Nix Farm: Wild in Winter, Saturday, October 10, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Nix Farm Native Plant Garden in Kingfisher Point Natural Area, 1745 Hoffman Mill Road. Spend an evening cozy by a campfire close to home complete with stories. These programs are held in a beautiful natural setting at the home of the Natural Areas Department and are suitable for all ages and abilities. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on if you like. S’mores will be provided, bring marshmallow skewers if you have them. Free, REGISTRATION REQUIRED at naturetracker.fcgov.com or call 970-416-2815.

Wild by Wild, Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Lobby exhibit, 408 Mason Ct. Stop by and view the gallery of the latest wild animal “selfies” taken by remote cameras. New fun family activities include checking a camera, finding wildlife sign, guessing animal sounds, and voting for best image of 2015. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com.

Skygazing, Friday, October 30, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area, meet in the parking lot off Carpenter Road. Enjoy viewing the night sky with telescopes and knowledgeable volunteers provided by the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society. Dress warmly and bring a blanket or chair to sit on. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com. For weather updates and cancellations, visit the NCAS website at ncastro.org.

Black-footed Ferret Population Update from Soapstone Prairie

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Last week, 17 additional endangered black-footed ferrets were released at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Meadow Springs Ranch. This was to supplement the 42 animals that were reintroduced last year.  Annual monitoring in September of the ferret population by scientists from City of Fort Collins Natural Areas, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and US Fish and Wildlife Service reported six ferrets, including one that is likely a wild-born kit, and a lactating female.  Seeing only a few ferrets is a typical monitoring result and biologists feel that the population is doing well especially because it is reproducing on its own. The six ferrets were in good health.  Other wildlife observations included swift fox, badgers, coyotes, raccoon, porcupine, pronghorn, poor-wills and a barn owl. Twenty-five people contributed to the effort and contributed 312 hours over four nights.

New Poudre Trail Segments Open

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The Poudre Trail is 3.7 miles longer thanks to two projects near I-25 that were recently completed. The first project, is a 3.1 mile section of trail west of I-25, from the Harmony Park-N-Ride through Arapaho Bend Natural Area to a loop around Rigden Reservoir. This new trail segment provides paved access through Arapaho Bend Natural Area and views of Rigden Reservoir. The second project, a section of trail east of I-25 from Gateway Trailhead Park to Stonefly Court in Timnath, 0.6 miles, included trailhead improvements (picnic tables, pavement and drainage features), and underpasses at Harmony Road and County Road 5. This new trail segment provides views of the Swetsville Zoo and access to the Poudre River. Read the press release here.

Controlling Non-Native Cheatgrass

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Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) has invaded millions of acres across the country and is especially abundant along the Front Range of Colorado.  It is a highly flammable grass that once established, can outcompete other ground-level native vegetation.  Cheatgrass means increased risk of wildfires and less habitat for wildlife. That is why the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department is embarking on a pilot project to control cheatgrass in Reservoir Ridge Natural Area.  An aerial application of Imazapic (Plateau) will be applied over 20 acres of grass and shrubland that is partially infested with cheatgrass and otherwise inaccessible to equipment.  The department has had positive results with this herbicide on other areas, with no negative effects on non-target plants and wildlife.

The Natural Areas Department is still committed to reducing herbicide use overall.  An integrated pest management strategy is used to control exotic plants.  When appropriate for a site, a combination of biological, fire, herbicide and/or mechanical treatments may be used.  Natural Areas uses herbicides in accordance to the herbicide label and the law.

Learn more:

Cheatgrass and Wildfire

Controlling cheatgrass in winter range to restore habitat and endemic fire

Plateau Herbicide

 

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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