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Natural Areas Department Releases Annual Report for 2013

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image for press release Natural Areas Department Releases Annual Report for 2013 The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department is pleased to announce the publication of its 2013 Annual Report. The report gives an overview of the Natural Areas Department and highlights projects, accomplishments and revenue/expenditure information. Articles include:
• Flood Recovery- Natural Areas along the river corridor helped absorb flood waters of September. The city was relatively undamaged due in part to careful land conservation and insightful planning. Behind the scenes, a trail at Bobcat Ridge was used as a critical emergency evacuation route.
• Awards and Grants- A $70,000 grant from Poudre Heritage Alliance, a Videographers Award, a Friend of Preservation Award, and a $141,877 grant from the State Historic Fund all recognized the Natural Areas Departments’ outstanding work.
• Yours to Explore- A new trailhead, and trail (1.4 miles) were opened at Reservoir Ridge Natural Area off North Overland Trail Road.
• On the Trail- Rangers logged 6,872 visitor contacts (most were friendly and educational), and responded to over 800 phone calls to the on-duty ranger line. Gateway Natural Area welcomed a record 27,000 visitors. Seventy two Volunteer Ranger Assistants talked with nearly 4,000 visitors in natural areas.
• Naturally Dark Skies- The Natural Areas Department worked with several partners to monitor and conserve dark skies.
• Bringing Back the Dace- The state endangered northern redbelly dace is a small fish that was reintroduced to Spottlewood Creek at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area in 2013. A grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife ($50,000) will help restore a former gravel mine in hopes that it will be a second reintroduction location.
• River Projects- The Natural Areas Department worked for a healthy and resilient Cache la Poudre River through a large restoration project at North Shields Ponds Natural Area, a comprehensive public open house focused on river projects and by investing in water rights.
• 2013 Revenues and Expenditures
• Land Conservation- Purchases included 37-acres near Vine Drive and Taft Hill Road, 17-acres along the Poudre River, and a 10-acre parcel adjacent to Magpie Meander Natural Area. Colorado Department of Transportation donated 2.7 acres along the Poudre River near Mulberry Street. Two conserved farm properties were sold as planned (Natural Areas retained the development rights).
• Outstanding Volunteers- In 2013, 1,633 volunteers donated over 10,000 hours, the equivalent of five full time staff members. Volunteers helped with education, monitored trails, picked up litter, and assisted with stewardship projects.
• Ferrets Coming Soon?- The Natural Areas Department is managing prairie dog colonies at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area to support the hope of reintroducing the native, federally endangered black-footed ferret someday. Natural Areas’ plan for reintroducing ferrets was approved by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013 and future efforts will focus on receiving approval at the state level.

The report is available on-line at Printed copies are available at natural area trailheads or the Natural Areas Department offices at 1745 Hoffman Mill Road (M-F, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.)

It’s all made possible by Fort Collins and Larimer County voters. Your citizen-initiated sales tax dollars conserve land and provide visitor services such as trails, restrooms and parking lots. Thank you!