Flaunting the wild at Standley Lake Regional Park

Rangers craft programs to take advantage of area’s flora and fauna

Posted 6/11/18

On June 17, rangers at Westminster’s Standley Lake Region park will lead people who sign up into canoes and kayaks for a wildlife tour of the area from a different perspective. On the night of the …

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Flaunting the wild at Standley Lake Regional Park

Rangers craft programs to take advantage of area’s flora and fauna

Posted

On June 17, rangers at Westminster’s Standley Lake Region park will lead people who sign up into canoes and kayaks for a wildlife tour of the area from a different perspective.

On the night of the Summer Solstice, June 21, they’ll lead flashlight-toting hikers on a night walk to learn about nocturnal animals, the moon and the stars. And then on June 30, they’ll take people out to look for invasive species — everything from plants to bugs to bigger animals.

This comes on top of a whole catalog of walking lectures, tours and adventures the rangers have hosted so far this spring — everything from learning about life inside a prairie dog town to finding edible vegetables in the wild urban areas.

They’re not kind of events you’d expect at a city park, Standley Lake Operations Coordinator Holly Walters said. But when have you an area like the 2,300 acre Standley Lake Regional Park, covered with hiking trails and home to dozens of kinds of wildlife, you want to make the best of it.

“We are a front range park, so people don’t have to travel all that far,” Walter said. “People can pop in to get a breath of fresh air and just get away from the crowds. We get them from our neighboring communities and from Denver as well.”

The park has been a recreational area north of Denver since the 1970s, but originally it was devoted to the water — fishing and water skiing. That makes sense, Walter said, because it’s the third largest reservoir in Metro Denver, ranked just behind Chatfield Reservoir and Barr Lake.

It began to change in the late 1980s when the city looked to enhance its open spaces.

“We are a wildlife refuge and that’s a rare thing in such an urban setting,” Walters said.

The shores of Standley Lake has always been home to wildlife, with coyotes and foxes hunting rabbits and prairie dogs and all manners of hawks and owls flying above. A pair of bald eagles has called the park home since 1993, hatching offspring for the last 22 years.

“People sometimes forget that we are a wildlife refuge because it is so popular for power boating,” said Park Naturalist Lexie Martinez. “We are smaller than many state parks and it’s more low key. But it’s really popular for boating and people forget we have a pair of nesting eagles that have been here for years. We have burrowing owls and a lot of animals you don’t see elsewhere in Westminster.”

Martinez said she’s responsible for coming up with the overall list of programs today. But many are carried over from previous years, modeled after the wildlife programs at bigger national parks and wildlife areas.

“It just sort of depends,” Martinez said. “Our mission designed to promote nature, wellness and literacy so we try to incorporate at least two of those in every program we produce. But most are based around what we have at the park. We have educators coming out with live animals. For our family camp night, they bring creatures of the night and we have a bird program.”

The next step is moving the programs out to the rest of Westminster’s open spaces.

“As our programs increase and we bring more people in, we’ve recognized that there are a lot of other assets in the city that are beautiful and we want to do what we can to get people out,” Walter said. “We want to get people to have this kind of experience at other locations throughout Westminster.”

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