By Lauren Kurtz, Urban Prairies Project Intern
Living along the Colorado Front Range allows us quite the variety of landscapes to discover and explore. The westward mountain horizon is breathtaking and trampling up trails through the forest can be captivating. Can such appeal be found without sitting in traffic along I-70? Urban Prairies Project believes that wholesome connections to nature can also be cultivated inside the borders of our own communities! We are lucky, in that, Westminster and Broomfield have over 5000 of acres of open space. How can we make the most out of these protected lands, both for humans, and for the wildlife that depend on the natural ecosystem?
Prairie habitat once covered 250 million acres across North America. While this is no longer the case there is still hope for this iconic American landscape. An urban prairie is an open space grassland that dwells within the margins of human development; it hosts native wildlife, while also providing the community recreation opportunities. Within these urban prairies one can encounter beautiful wildflowers being pollinated by insects, raptors circling overhead, and the occasional deer or rabbit casually foraging. The Urban Prairies Project will focus on habitat restoration as both a way to improve local green spaces and engage the community.
This collaboration between Butterfly Pavilion, City of Westminster and City and County of Broomfield Open Space Departments, Broomfield Open Space Foundation, and Denver Botanic Gardens will launch this spring on two centerpiece open space sites. In order to make the most of open space resources, this partnership will establish a Restoration Masters Volunteer program. These volunteers will be guided by Butterfly Pavilion staff and work alongside local open space departments doing ecological restoration projects. With groups of volunteers, Restoration Masters will lead groups in removing invasive species, seeding desirable native plants, and conducting wildlife monitoring surveys. Restoration Master Volunteers will also share their expertise through guided hikes, nature programs, and publications.
The presence of open spaces in a community is a key factor in defining the quality of life. If you are interested in the Urban Prairies Project or in becoming a Restoration Master Volunteer, please contact Amy Yarger at firstname.lastname@example.org .