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Nature in the City

Neighborhood Nature#

Although access to nature is a celebrated reality for many residents of Fort Collins, there are still pockets of the community where barriers to nature access exist. Be it a busy street intersection to cross or a lack of time to head to a nearby natural area, community projects seek to make nature accessible right in your neighborhood! Whether it is the transformation of a vacant lot into a pollinator garden or the installation of new trail infrastructure to secure safe passage, community projects turn neighborhood desires into on-the-ground opportunities to connect with nature close to home or work.

Click on a project below to learn more about how each one works to increase neighborhood access to nature.

The Genesis Project Community Garden#

The Genesis Project Community Garden and Playground provides access to the Park Lane trailer park community. The project involved the installation of a playground, community garden, pollinator garden, and a trail. The site not only creates a beautiful space for residents to access nature and play, but also attracts pollinators and wildlife.

Location
400 South Link Lane, Fort Collins, CO 80524

What Are the Benefits of the Project?
For many years, Fort Collins' one and only strip club was located adjacent to the Park Lane trailer park. Not only was this setting not suitable for children to play outdoors, but the only place the trailer park had for children to play was an open field without any playground equipment next to the strip club. With funding from Nature in the City and The Genesis Project, the area now offers a safe place for children to play on the newly established playground equipment. The new gardens also provide the community access to fresh produce and offers high-quality habitat for pollinators. The community garden and playground will strengthen the vibrant Park Lane community by creating an incredibly beautiful place in a space that was once one of the darkest spots in all of Fort Collins.

Who is Involved?
The Genesis Project, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department, Nordson Corporation Foundation, The Matthews House, Fort Collins High School, Hageman Earth Cycle, Bohemian Foundation, Youth Make a Difference, Patrick Plumbing Service Inc., Elite Roofing Services, Givenext, Kiwanis International, Austin Korshak Hatch Memorial Fund, Key Club International, Rotary International, Otterbox.

The Murphy Center Garden#

The Murphy Center offers a safe refuge for those experiencing homelessness by providing guests with services, guidance, and respite during the day. The center features an existing community garden lovingly created and programmed by the Growing Project. In the spring of 2017, a Leadership Fort Collins team reached out to the Growing Project and the Murphy Center to see if additional features might be added to complement the existing garden and enhance micro-habitat for pollinators and guests. With support from the Nature in the City program, the community garden is now home to a native plant perimeter garden that includes a variety of flowering, drought tolerant species that attract native pollinators and produce snackable treats for guests including raspberries, gooseberries, plums, and herbs. Nature in the City continues to work with the Growing Project to improve and expand the garden in bite-sized phases.

Location
242 Conifer Street, Fort Collins, CO 80524

What are the benefits of the project?
The perimeter | “sweet treat” garden:

  • attracts native pollinators that assist with the pollination of community crops;
  • adds snackable berries and herbs for guests to enjoy;
  • provides a relaxing (and now shaded!) place to sit and enjoy time in nature; and,
  • offers opportunities to build community through ongoing collaboration and learning.

Who is involved?
Leadership Fort Collins, The Growing Project, The Murphy Center, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department

Neighborhood Tree Canopy Project#

Fort Collins has cultivated an extensive urban forest due to over a century of forward-thinking planters and stewards, and has received an annual Tree City USA award for nearly four decades. While many neighborhoods throughout the City have significant tree canopy cover provided by front yard, backyard, and street trees, areas of opportunity remain. Several of these opportunities are located in areas containing mixed housing types, newer development or re-development, and recently annexed properties. As Fort Collins continues growing, effectively maintaining and expanding tree canopy cover is a citywide goal prioritized in the City Plan, Nature in the City Strategic Plan, and Climate Action Plan.

Neighborhood Tree Canopy Projects incentivize the planting of new front yard deciduous shade trees. The trees are free to selected residents upon completion of an application and competitive evaluation process. South and west facing front yards receive priority. Planting day each year coincides with United Way of Larimer County Make a Difference Day and Arbor Day Foundation Neighborwoods Month.

Location
City staff and local volunteers planted 29 deciduous shade trees in the Avery Park Neighborhood (Taft Hill Road and Prospect Road) in 2015 and 31 trees in the Greenbriar Park Neighborhood (Willox Lane and Lemay Avenue) in 2016.

What are the benefits of the project?
Front yard trees contribute to the range of benefits provided by a healthy urban forest, including:

  • Wildlife Habitat: Trees provide food and cover for local wildlife including songbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.
  • Energy Savings: Strategically planted trees can shade buildings from the summer sun to reduce cooling costs and slow winter winds to reduce winter heating costs.
  • Neighborhood Vitality: Trees offer beauty, shade, and an aesthetic that contributes to creating a more walkable and enjoyable neighborhood and city.
  • Carbon Offsets: Throughout their lives, trees capture and store significant amounts of carbon, an element of many greenhouse gases, into their roots, trunks, and leaves.
  • Air Quality: Trees are natural air filters capturing impurities from the environment like chemicals from vehicle exhaust and gases contributing to warmer temperatures.
  • Loss Mitigation: Proactive planting supports efforts to soften impacts associated with anticipated tree deaths caused by the emerald ash tree borer pest.

What is planted?
Free front yard tree recipients can choose from the following six species:

  • Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
  • Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
  • Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
  • Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)
  • Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
  • Linden (Tilia cordata or Tilia americana)

Who is involved?
Local residents and volunteers in addition to staff from several City of Fort Collins Departments including: Community, Development, and Neighborhood Services; Forestry; Natural Areas; Social Sustainability; Environmental Services.

What's next?#

City staff aims to plant at least 30 deciduous shade trees in front yards in the Spring Park Neighborhood (College Avenue and Stuart Street) in 2017. In 2018, Nature in the City staff will explore options to further incentivize tree canopy cover on private property citywide.