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News Release

Devil's Backbone Open Space Restoration Project Wins Award

Department: Natural Resources
Release Date: Oct 3, 2012

Contact Information:

Meegan Flenniken, Resource Program Manager, Department of Natural
Resources (970) 679-4562,

Photo: Jeffrey Boring

 The Larimer County Natural Resources Department is a recipient of a regional Colorado Open Space Alliance Award, the “Blue Grama Award” for an Ecological Management Program, for its restoration work at Devil’s Backbone Open Space. The purpose of this project was to reduce the cover of cheatgrass, feral rye and other non-native plants in two valleys located at Devil’s Backbone Open Space. These two valleys received heavy grazing pressure before Larimer County acquired the land and non-native plant cover was estimated at over 80%. After four years of prescribed fire followed by herbicide application, the sites on average contain less than 10% cheatgrass, rye and other weeds.

Cheatgrass and feral rye are two common invasive grasses in grassland systems that inhabit thousands of acres across Colorado. With this project, the combination and timing of prescribed fire and herbicide treatments have been extremely successful and the information is directly applicable to other agencies considering prescribed fire to control invasive weeds.
Due to the highly successful outcome of this project, the site continues to be used as a demonstration area for statewide open space planners, resource managers, and for local university classes. In addition, the project outcomes have been published in the July, 2012  issue of Natural Areas Journal (v.32, no.3) and on the Southern Rockies Fire Science Network where they will have wide-reaching impact to other planners, resource managers and prescribed fire professionals. 
This project is dependent on partnerships with various local fire departments and natural resource agencies. The Colorado State Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Larimer County Emergency Services, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Program, Loveland Fire Department, Poudre Fire Authority, Wellington Fire Protection District, and Berthoud Fire Protection District all participated during the prescribed fires. In restoration planning, the NRCS, CPW and various agency resource specialists were consulted. 
The Blue Grama Award was presented to Larimer County Natural Resources Department at the annual Colorado Open Space Alliance Conference in September, 2012, and will be on display on the 2nd floor lobby of the Larimer County Courthouse Office building, 200 W. Oak Street, Fort Collins.To learn more about Larimer County’s parks and open spaces.
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