The trails at McMurry Natural Area opened today after being closed for an ecological restoration project. The project improved riverside habitat by removing unnaturally steep river banks in order to reconnect the river with its floodplain. The Natural Areas Department removed more than 5 old cars buried in the river bank and added about 2 acres of wetlands and 4 acres of native cottonwood forest to support wildlife habitat values. Fish habitat was enhanced by dredging portions of the site’s two ponds. Public fishing access was improved through the creation of designated access areas. Everyone is invited to come see the newly restored McMurry Natural Area. Please stay on the trail so that freshly planted areas have the best chance of becoming established.
This project is part of the City of Fort Collins’ efforts to achieve the vision/principles outlined in City Plan (the City’s Comprehensive Plan, 2011) including:
• The City will support a healthy and resilient Cache la Poudre ecosystem and protect, enhance, and restore the ecological values of the river.
• The City will work to quantify and provide adequate instream flows to maintain the ecological functionality, and recreational and scenic values of the Cache La Poudre River through Fort Collins.
The physical lowering of the riverbank permits higher river flows to safely spill onto adjacent low-lying places within the natural area to revitalize, invigorate and mimic the historic and natural interaction between the river and its floodplain. The project was specifically designed to ensure that private properties adjacent to McMurry Natural Area are not exposed to any additional flood risk, in fact the project improves flood control in the area.
Volunteers and Natural Areas staff will be at McMurry Natural Area throughout the spring and summer to continue the restoration process. Soon the “Poudre-O-Meter” will be complete; a series of large boulders placed to show the elevation of river flow events such as a 10, 50 and 100 year floods.
Thank you Fort Collins and Larimer County voters! Your support of citizen-initiated sales tax ballot measures funds land conservation and stewardship including ecological restoration projects, trails, and educational activities.