Four new natural areas were recently named with input from the public. More than 75 names were submitted by 22 contributors for these recent property acquisitions. Thank you to everyone who participated. The following names were selected by the Open Lands Advisory Commission at their September 12, 2018 meeting:
Boise Bend Natural Area
Boedecker Bluff Natural Area
Eagle Vista Natural Area
Medina's Crossing Natural Area
East Big Thompson >> Boise Bend Natural Area
1225 S. Boise Ave. (MAP and REGULATIONS)
East Big Thompson was named Boise Bend Natural Area for the bend in the river and location along Boise Ave. The 12-acre property offers a 0.25-mile soft-surface trail loop, river access and a small parking area with kiosk map and doggie bag dispenser.
Boise Bend lies south of the river, across from Old St. Louis Natural Area and west of Boise Ave. For additional reference, Winona Pool and Osborn Park are north of Boise Bend. The property was acquired in 2017 to preserve the riparian corridor and provide an extension of the Big Thompson trail to the east.
Access for fishing and wildlife watching, including views of a nearby heron rookery (communal nesting area), are available along a soft-surface trail. Native cottonwoods and willows provide shade along the river banks and refuge for songbirds, mammals and herptiles. Mink, wild turkey and white-tailed deer have been spotted, and a healthy brown trout population thrives in the waterway.
Volunteers from Colorado Addicted Trail-builders Society (CATS) and other groups constructed the soft-surface trails and trailhead area, and helped clean up flood debris and other material to improve and prepare the site for public access. Sawyer crews from Larimer County Conservation Corps helped remove and treat invasive Russian olive and Siberian elm trees with funding from a Great Outdoors Colorado grant, to allow native vegetation to become re-established.
North Boedecker >> Boedecker Bluff Natural Area
West First St.
North Boedecker (W. 1st Street) was named Boedecker Bluff Natural Area based on its setting on a bluff above Boedecker Reservoir, a State Wildlife Area. The 17-acre property is located along W. 1st Street south of Rossum Drive and Mariana Butte. The site is being developed for public access and is planned to open in 2019.
The property was purchased in 2017 and provides a buffer to nearby residential development for wildlife using the reservoir and adjacent habitat.
The neighborhood natural area will offer natural-surface trails along the edge of the reservoir with fishing access, opportunities for wildlife viewing and scenic views. Native trees and shrubs, including cottonwood, chokecherry, wild rose and currant, offer diverse habitat for songbirds, raptors, small mammals and amphibians. The site may provide future trail connections to nearby open lands and trails in the Mariana Butte area.
Ryans Gulch >> Eagle Vista Natural Area
The Ryan Gulch property (southwest Loveland) was named Eagle Vista Natural Area due to raptor use of the site and the property's outstanding scenic views. The land will be restored with native prairie vegetation and developed for trail use, wildlife viewing and other passive recreation.
The 185-acre Ryans Gulch property is located in southwest Loveland and is part of a 667-acre community separator between Loveland and Berthoud. The site was acquired in 2016 for wildlife habitat and a trail corridor for the south Front Range Trail connection. Mule deer, elk, coyote, prairie dogs and cottontails call this vast expanse of prairie home.
Two irrigation ditches and wetland swales also meander through the property, providing a combination of upland prairie and vegetated waterways for a variety of foraging habitats and movement corridors for songbirds and mammals. Birds of the open prairie are common, including red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, golden eagle, magpie, raven, and western meadowlark.
Russian olive trees have been removed here as well, with assistance from the Front Range Community College Exotic Species Elimination Project. The property will be restored with shortgrass prairie species including native grasses, wildflowers and shrubs. Future public use will be considered through a management plan process, including opportunities for public input.
Until a management plan is completed, public access to Eagle Vista is not permitted.
Medina's Crossing Natural Area
731 N. Namaqua Ave.
A fourth recently-purchased property, located along the west Big Thompson River, was named Medina’s Crossing Natural Area for its historical significance as the site of Mariano Medina’s homestead and bridge crossing for the Overland Trail route in the late 1800s. The property was named through an administrative process following procedures outlined in the Open Lands Naming Policy.
This property will be managed for agricultural use, and the river corridor will be restored to a more natural and flood-resilient condition. Future public use will be considered through a management plan process, including opportunities for public input.