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Press Releases

Fort Collins Natural Areas Celebrates 30 Years

Released on Monday, December 5, 2022

Contact Information

  • Zoe Shark, Natural Areas Public Engagement Manager, 970-221-6311,, Website: Website


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Everyone is invited to a yearlong celebration of the 30th anniversary of the passage of the first ballot measure that established secure funding for local and regional land conservation through a ¼ cent sales tax. It has also been 30 years since the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department was established to conserve and steward treasured community outdoor spaces.

The recent anniversary party was enjoyed by over 300 people. Partygoers included several of the individuals who supported the ballot initiative in 1992, as well as City leaders and staff past and present, volunteers, partners, and many engaged community members.

Attendees were greeted with an opportunity to share their connection to Natural Areas by filling in the blank on postcards that read, “30 Years of _______” by writing values such as conservation, great memories outdoors, foothills views, or the opportunity to see wildlife nearby. They were able to mingle and take photos to commemorate the momentous gathering of so many who care about conservation.

The celebration began with Jan Iron and members of the Native and Indigenous community sharing a land acknowledgment and song. A video by FCTV shared the “30 years of ____” theme. It highlighted Councilmember Kelly Ohlson, a key leader in the ballot measures that fund natural areas and the video honored artist Gary Raham, who illustrated most of the Fort Collins natural area entrance signs. Also featured were accessibility consultants, Jim Mull, Joan Allmendinger, and Julian Wang who shared how they connect with natural areas, and Gemara Gifford who spoke about deep connections to the land.

City Manager, Kelly DiMartino and retired Natural Areas Manager Mark Sears introduced the inaugural Natural Areas Conservation Award which was given to Councilmember Kelly Ohlson in honor of his extraordinary achievements with positive impact on the natural world and future generations. Going forward, the award will be known as the Kelly Ohlson Natural Areas Conservation Award. Ohlson was the keynote speaker at the celebration where he thanked the diverse range of people who make natural areas possible from citizen ballot advocates, to elected officials, to staff, to volunteers, to voters.

The 30th-anniversary video created by FCTV is available at A video of the entire event and party photos will be available soon.

The 30th Anniversary of Natural Areas celebration continues through November 2023 including the following events where Mountains to Plains Dark Lager by Horse and Dragon Brewing Company will be available:

  • Natural Areas Bingo at Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, January 18, 5:30-7 p.m.
  • Northern Colorado Nature Trivia at Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, February 22, 5:30- 7 p.m.
  • Lightning Talks at the Lyric Cinema, March 22, 6:30-8 p.m.

An Agents of Discovery Mission, a nature-based augmented reality game, is available at Coyote Ridge Natural Area. Download the Agents of Discovery app for free. The mission is called, “Celebrate 30 Years of Natural Areas!” Those who complete the mission will win a special prize.

Events are free and registration is required. More activities will be announced in June in the Natural Areas Explorer publication, Natural Areas Enews, and on Learn more about the anniversary and the history of natural areas at