Willow Bend Natural Area

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2538 E.1st Street
Loveland, CO  80537

(see MAP and aerial photo)


This site is currently closed to public access.

A management plan is being developed.

Public Input Opportunities

Proposed names for this new natural area were accepted until May 31, 2017.  More than 75 names were submitted!  At the June 14, 2017 Open Lands Advisory Commission meeting, staff and commission members reviewed the submissions and selected the name Willow Bend Natural Area.  See this NEWS RELEASE for more information about the naming process. Thank you to everyone who participated! 

History and Background

This 79-acre property is located in east Loveland and was purchased in 2016 for Open Land and Park purposes. The parcel at 2538 E. 1st St. is adjacent to the Boys & Girls Club, New Vision Charter School, and Simpson Ponds State Wildlife Area, and includes Big Thompson River frontage. The acquisition provides a buffer to nearby urban development and includes cultivated agricultural lands and a lower floodplain bench with natural areas along the river, including portions of several natural areas identified in the 2008 Natural Areas Sites report. The property also provides a key connection for the east Big Thompson River trail planned to connect from the city’s Recreation Trail at King’s Crossing Natural Area on Lincoln Ave. east to Simpson Ponds SWA on County Rd 9. 

Prior to acquisition by the city, the floodplain land was gravel-mined and reclaimed to wetlands, grassland, and a small pond. Wetland species including plains cottonwood, coyote willow, and common cattail are scattered throughout the property, along with groves of poplar and elm. The combination of the pond, wetlands, and connection to the Big Thompson River provide a variety of habitats for songbirds, mammals, and reptiles/amphibians.  Wildlife found in the river corridor include white-tailed and mule deer, coyote, mink, wild turkeys, red-tailed hawks, western meadowlarks, killdeer, red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, chorus frogs and numerous others. 

The site is also the focal point for Project Outdoors Loveland, a Great Outdoors Colorado-funded initiative that aims to connect more youth and families to the outdoors. The plan for public access to the natural area was developed with youth and community input on potential amenities such as trails, community gardens, outdoor classroom, bike skills features, fishing and river access. The plan also includes ideas for activating these places through programs such as environmental education, clinics for fishing, biking, and outdoor skills, and gardening clubs.  The full Project Outdoors Loveland Plan is available here.  

 If you need additional information, please call the 

Parks & Recreation Administration Office at: (970) 962-2727. River's Edge Natural Area Project Schedule PDF

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