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Nature in the City

 Contact Information

City of Fort Collins Image

Nature in the City is the next evolution in conservation in Fort Collins. As Fort Collins grows in population, it is more important than ever to ensure nature remains a defining attribute of the city. Through innovative partnerships, policies, and projects, the Nature in the City programs strives to create and enhance additional natural spaces while providing residents easy access to nature.

Nature in the City is housed within the Natural Areas Department and is guided by it's Strategic Plan, adopted in 2015.

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Vision and Goals

Nature in the City's vision is "a connected open space network accessible to the entire community that provides a variety of experiences and functional habitat for people, plants, and wildlife."


  • Easy access to nature- Ensure every resident is within a ten minute walk to nature from their home or workplace.
  • High quality natural spaces- Conserve, create, and enhance natural spaces to provide diverse social and ecological opportunities.
  • Land stewardship- Shift landscape aesthetics to more diverse forms that support healthy environments for people and wildlife.

NIC Named a Top 25 Innovation in American Government

Citizen Scientist volunteer

The Nature in the City program was recognized in May 2017 as one of the top 25 programs recognized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. The Center sponsors the Innovations in American Government Awards competition. Nature in the City is representing the top 2% of all initial applications. Read the press release here.

Nature in the City is Recognized as a Success Story

Nature in the City was selected through an internationally competitive process to be featured as a Success Story on NatureForAll's website. The movement, #NatureForAll, is meant to inspire a love for nature. The website is sponsored by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to inspire a new generation of thinkers and doers across all sectors of society to connect with nature and take action to support its conservation. Read the press release here.

Current Efforts

  • Regulation and Policy

  • Updating the City's Land Use and Building Codes to encourage new development to incorporate Nature in the City goals and concepts.
  • Participating in the City's Night Sky team
  • Integrate Nature in the City principles into efforts such as the Water Efficiency Plan, Climate Action Plan, and Larimer County's GOCO Inspire Grant planning process.
  • Educational Resources

  • Design Guidelines and other resources are being created to support homeowners, home owner associations, community groups and contractors implement Nature in the City on their properties.
  • Monitoring

  • Citizen Science volunteers are learning about urban wildlife and exploring Fort Collins' natural spaces as they conduct scientific surveys for birds and butterflies. Learn more >>>
  • Maps and connectivity analysis of a ten minute walk to nature have been completed.

Nature in the City Photos

Submit YOUR Nature in the City photos by emailing Justin Scharton, anNjaGFydG9uQGZjZ292LmNvbQ==

Strategic Plan

Nature in the City Strategic Plan Executive Summary
Nature in the City Strategic Plan, with appendices
Nature in the City Strategic Plan, without appendices

Stay Up To Date

Sign up for Natural Areas Enews, a monthly electronic newsletter which includes Nature in the City updates.

Contact Us

Justin Scharton, Program Manager
Senior Environmental Planner
Natural Areas Department

Rebecca Everette
Senior Environmental Planner
Community Development & Neighborhood Services