Neighbors Give Carpenter Natural Area Some TLC

5/13/2021
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An ad hoc group of neighbors next to the Carpenter Natural Area in north Cortez have adopted the open space to promote its preservation and protection. Sponsored by Cortez Airport and Boutique Air

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Illegal campers beware. Your activities may be reported to the police, thanks to a new neighborhood watch program for the Carpenter Natural Area in north Cortez. you're watching the local news network, brought to you by the Cortez Airport and Boutique Air. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. An ad hoc group of neighbors and regular visitors to a 180 acre parcel of open space in north Cortez, have started a Friends of the Carpenter Natural Area, to monitor illegal activity that may threaten the preserve's resources. The group hosted its first function on Saturday May 1st, when about 23 volunteers showed up to pick up trash and sign up for an email contact list. The Carpenter Natural Area preserves 180 acres of sage grassland habitat, and is managed by the city of Cortez Parks and Recreation department. And while it's a city owned park, it's relatively remote location attracts illegal campers, partiers, and graffiti artists.

About a year ago, there was some wild camping and some campfires, near my house, and I had reported it. So I think, you know, it's one of those things, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Well, the squeaky wheel gets the job and all of a sudden we, I was organizing it with some of my neighbors. So that kind of precipitated it, and then with COVID nothing really happened for about a year, but about two weeks ago I got a call from our head of Parks and Rec here in Cortez, Dean Palmquist, and we had a preliminary meeting. And then it was suggested by officer Ross, from the Cortez police department, that maybe we should organize a cleanup day as a way to kick it off, so that's how it got started.

The Carpenter family donated the original 76 acre preserve to the city of Cortez in 1993 to be preserved as a public park, natural area and wildlife sanctuary. The city purchased an additional 80 acres and designated 60 as part of the preserve. And in 2017, a 50 acre conservation easement was created between landowner Keith Evans and the Montezuma Land Conservancy, to provide long-term stewardship and management. The preserve offers more than 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. In addition to serving as a neighborhood watch group, Friends of Carpenter also plan to offer support for its care, and to promote its preservation and protection. The group operates under the umbrella of the city Parks and Recreation department, and in consultation with the police department.

It's a really wonderful area for the community to enjoy. And our purpose is to protect it and preserve it, and make sure it's here for the neighborhood, and for all the people who care about it, and for the future.

If you'd like to join Friends of the Carpenter Natural Area to volunteer for other projects, contact Paul at sundog2014@yahoo.com. To learn more about the preserve, visit cityofcortez.com. Thanks for watching this edition of the local news network, serving Montezuma, San Miguel, and La Plata counties in Southwest Colorado, and San Juan County in Northwest New Mexico. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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