Prairie Ridge Natural Area (MAP)
Loveland, CO 80537
Prairie Ridge Natural Area is located northwest of 57th St. and Wilson Ave. in northwest Loveland. Over the past two years, the City has developed a management plan for the site to include public access, trails, and connections to other regional open space and trails. A concept plan was developed based on opportunities and constraints identified for the site and was presented for public input in 2016. Based on feedback to the concept plan and input from project partners and a technical advisory team, a draft management plan was developed and presented for public review. Comments on the management plan were accepted until April 30, 2018 and considered in the final management plan document.
In May 2000, the 785-acre Prairie Ridge Natural Area in northwest Loveland was acquired as part of the 3,500-acre “community separator” between Loveland and Fort Collins. The property is located northwest of N. Wilson Ave & 57th Street. Funding was provided by the City of Loveland, City of Fort Collins, Larimer County, and Great Outdoors Colorado. A perpetual conservation easement protecting the property from development is co-held by Larimer County and Colorado Open Lands. The purchase was funded primarily by Loveland’s share of the voter-approved open space sales tax collected throughout Larimer County. The community separator also includes Loveland’s Sunset Vista Natural Area, Larimer County’s Long View Farm, and Fort Collins’ Coyote Ridge Natural Area.
The eastern 2/3 of the property is farmed for dryland wheat. The western 1/3 of the site includes hogbacks, shale ridges, shortgrass prairie and foothills shrubland, providing habitat for a variety of wildlife such as raptors, songbirds, coyote, red fox, bobcat, and mule deer. Tributary wetlands provide important habitat, cover, and movement corridors for many species. The property also offers sweeping views of the foothills and plains.
Anticipated uses include development of a trailhead parking lot, construction of natural-surface trails for passive recreation and wildlife viewing, and continuing use as a working farm. Park planners will implement a master planning process for the property that will include resource evaluation and public input to help identify long-term uses and future improvements.