by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation
This past weekend, Soapstone Prairie Natural Area officially opened to the public (the opening of Red Mountain Open Space was delayed until this weekend because the recent rains had made the roads too soft). We had the most beautiful Saturday you could imagine, and while we were greeted on Sunday by lightning and hail (remember: it’s a remote site and the weather changes, so always be prepared), approximately 500 people visited. While I have a lot of thoughts about the opening weekend, the main one is this: Thank you.
Thank you to the voters of Fort Collins and Larimer County for allowing the city and county to purchase and preserve these properties and the cultural and natural histories on them.
Thank you to the managers who developed the properties’ management plans, the surveyors who discovered the properties’ ecological and archaeological resources, the researchers who gathered hours upon hours of oral history interviews so we could learn about the peoples who called this land home, and the educators who put all the information together for the public.
Thank you to all the city and county volunteers who will interpret and protect Soapstone Prairie and Red Mountain. I know that both our visitors and the cultural and natural treasures will be in good hands with you.
Finally, thank you to all the visitors who came this weekend, and everyone still to come. As soon as you step on Soapstone Prairie or Red Mountain, you become part of a story of the connections between people and the land that’s been told there for over 12,000 years. I hope you’ll find that as special as I do.
On Saturday, Ram Nation, CSU’s Native drumming group, performed. One of their songs was an appreciation song — sung at events to thank planners, volunteers, and participants for everything they do. That song echoing out across the plains and up the Cheyenne Ridge was a more eloquent and moving gesture of thanks that I can give. I wish everyone could have heard it.