In 2020, the Board created an Environmental Committee and appointed two Board members to discuss and recommend actions to improve the environment within the District outside of regular public meetings. The scope of the Committee includes tree planting, habitat restoration, management of invasive species, water conservation, and environmental impacts activity.
- Ensure District projects are completed with an eye toward enhancing wildlife habitat and beautifying the District
- Facilitate habitat restoration by eradicating invasive species and re-establishing native wildflowers, grasses, and trees
- Improve resident access of natural areas so everyone can enjoy the natural beauty of the District
- Reduce pollution within the District
- Reduce water use and losses by the District
1. Tree Planting:
The Committee has been directing new tree plantings within the District. Tree species planted are native to the United States, most of which are native to the front range of Colorado.
2. Wildflower Planting:
With the help of volunteers, the Committee seeded experimental plots south of Tadpole Pond with nearly fifty species of locally collected wildflower and grass seeds. With the dry spring in 2022, few of the millions of seeds planted ended up germinating. A supplemental seeding will occur in 2023 and hopefully a normal, wetter spring will help with germination.
3. Tree List:
For future plantings, the Committee created a list of native trees to recommend the District uses for future plantings. Native trees are expected to be hardier than the non-native trees that developers have planted in the District, and they can improve wildlife value.
4. Plant List:
The Committee has developed a list of plant species that are locally native to our area based on preliminary surveys of undeveloped areas and nearby parks. Since there are hundreds of species native to the area, this list will be updated over time as new species are identified. This plant list will be used as a guide for future habitat restorations and for new landscaped areas.
5. Bat Boxes:
The District sprays Bti (a bacteria that parasitizes mosquito larvae) on District ponds to kill mosquitoes, however many mosquitoes breed in our marshes and private backyards. The purpose behind installing a bat box is to attract bats to our area to consume mosquitoes. In 2022, the committee installed a pair of bat boxes, designed and built by the committee, at the southwest corner of the district’s soccer field. A few bats did visit the bat boxes later in 2022. If the bat box successfully attracts a large colony of bats, we plan on installing more bat boxes around the district.
6. Native Plant Nursery:
In partnership with the Douglas County School District, the Environmental Committee is in the construction stage of building a native plant nursery on the northwest corner of the Roxborough Intermediate School. We’ve taken some initial steps of collecting wildflower seeds from the Metro District and plan on gathering more seeds from nearby parks as starter material for the nursery.
Having our own native plant nursery will have a multitude of benefits. By partnering with our local schools, one large benefit will be the ability for Roxborough teachers to incorporate the greenhouse operations into their curriculums. This will give students the opportunity to learn about our native plants and give them a sense of ownership over the plantings sourced from the greenhouse. On the Metro District side, it will allow the District to produce a large number of plants at a very low cost which, in turn, will allow the District to plant a significant number of wildflowers each year. Since these will be native plants, they can be used in the district’s existing irrigated landscaping and in the district’s unirrigated open space. Having a plethora of plants will also allow the District to cheaply replace non-functional irrigated turf areas (like the narrow spaces between the street and sidewalk) with drip-irrigated landscaping. Use of all the native plants in irrigated areas will additionally reduce the District’s water bills. Once the native plant nursery has a surplus of plants, the plan is to sell the surplus to residents at a low cost to further improve habitat outside of public spaces as well as reduce water usage.
Facts About the District's Environment
- The land was historically farmed and mined prior to being developed into a District. In that time, much of the native species were eradicated and replaced with invasive species.
- Being situated at the juncture of the plains and the foothills, as well as having Little Willow Creek, the District has a wide variety of habitats and has a diverse mix of species native to all those habitats.
- Native plants naturally use less water and are drought tolerant, insect resistant, and adapted to our windy, arid climate.
- Some of our local species are more drought tolerant and insect resistant than members of the same species growing in a different part of the country. Therefore, buying seeds or plants of “native species” from out of state can yield plants that are actually not adapted to our environment.
- Most native wildflowers require cold stratification for their seeds to grow. This adaptation ensures the seeds will only sprout after spring rains. This adaptation can make it difficult for native wildflowers to be commercially grown.
- Once sprouted, native wildflowers typically take 2-5 years to bloom under ideal conditions. In the wild, it can take even longer.