At a Glance
Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department is taking a holistic, proactive approach to city-wide ecological restoration and stewardship, and is working to bring city departments and partners together to improve the ecological function and educational opportunities of its priority landscapes.
The City of Denver Parks and Recreation Department manages designated natural areas and priority landscapes representing over half of the acreage within the City Parks network. Some of the parcels have significant but compromised ecological potential, but the possibilities for their restoration had never been systematically examined. As part of an on-call contract to provide the City with ecological restoration services, Biohabitats assessed its holdings and developed a prioritization scheme for future restoration projects.
Biohabitats assessed 21 priority properties, interviewed the district staff, met with partner organizations and departments, updated the database describing the sites’ vegetation, and worked with the City to synthesize this information into specific recommendations for each site. An important aspect of the project was identifying potential projects in proximity to schools to enhance educational opportunities.
Biohabitats also conducted assessments of four gulches that traverse multiple jurisdications as they flow through Denver natural areas. The sites had impairments ranging from erosion and incision because of channel alteration, to encroachment by urban development, to invasive species. The restoration concepts for these sites will be used to prioritize the maintenance and restoration activities for the Program’s upcoming planning period.
Biohabitats’ living systems approach to the project resulted in collaboration with other City partners. The City and Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, which shares maintenance responsibilities with the Natural Areas Program, is initiating a broader collaboration to improve its ecological approach to managing City lands, and Biohabitats is assisting with vegetation management planning. Biohabitats is also providing assistance to the City and their partner, Groundwork Denver, to assess the feasibility of a pilot stormwater best management practice project to reduce E. coli in Bear Creek.