For the past two decades, the High Plains Environmental Center has been increasing sustainability and land connectivity in one of Loveland’s fastest growing areas.
The nonprofit is celebrating “20 years of restoring nature” and helping Lovelanders to work, live and play in an environmentally sustainable area.
For those 14 years, Executive Director Jim Tolstrup guided the nonprofit, based at Centra, in East Loveland, to promote native plants and educate the community in balance with nature, on water conservation and life and development. are.
1) Why is it important to promote native plants? How does this fit into the ecosystem and promote sustainability?
Native plants are especially important to wildlife, including birds and pollinators such as butterflies. We grow more than 120 different species of flowers and grasses in our nursery, and each of them provides specific benefits to wildlife. Plants themselves are an important part of preserving the unique beauty and culture of our state. Since these plants evolved in this environment, they are well adapted to our arid, high-altitude environments, and many require little or no water.
Everything we do includes establishing and managing native flora in stormwater ponds and vehicles. These wetland plants help remove nutrient runoff from fertilizers and other sources that can cause algae blooms. Because of these management practices, Colorado Parks and Wildlife states that northern Colorado has the healthiest and most diverse fish populations in our lakes.
2) What is stability?
Sustainability basically means avoiding depletion of natural resources to maintain ecological balance. For many years, there has been a lack of effective dialogue between ecological and economic interests, which is interesting because they are essentially the same thing. Anything that is environmentally healthy is financially sound in the long run. Damage to resources can result in costly restoration and reduce future economic prospects.
3) From the very beginning, the High Plains Environmental Center has used the term “suburban”. what does this mean? How does the center’s mission fit in with the development of East Loveland?
The term “suburb” was coined by HPEC’s first director, Ripley Hines. It combines the words “suburb” and “residence”. The basic concept is that the environment itself is a stakeholder, and we can include nature as a component of the communities we design and build. This concept has led to Centerera being certified by the National Wildlife Association as the first wildlife habitat community in Colorado..
4) To celebrate the 20th anniversary, You’ve released an e-book that is billed on Amazon as “Surbbitat: A Guide to Restoring Nature Where We Live, Work and Play”. Please talk about what inspired the book’s creation and how you hope it will benefit readers and the natural world.
Our book “Subbarbitat” tells the story of HPEC’s founding, how we got it funded and what we built, including restoring our visitor centers, performance gardens, and natural areas. It examines the history of the land, including the effects of the removal of Native American tribes and the absence of their traditional land management practices, as well as the effects of the arrival of white settlers, farming and irrigation, and, more recently, the development and increased Population. The book is both a forward-looking statement and an argument for long-term thinking that can allow the communities we’ve built along Colorado’s Front Range to continue to exist in the future as our water supplies continue to dwindle. This book provides detailed instructions for establishing and managing native landscapes, and working with them, rather than eradicating wildlife.
5) Describe some of the achievements of the Center for High Plains Environment in the last few years.
Over the years HPEC has spent thousands of hours of volunteer time focusing on restoring natural areas, creating gardens showcasing native plants, and growing food for the area’s food banks.
Some of our favorite accomplishments have been with the Thompson School District and various school projects. We helped design and build the outer classroom at Namaqua. We did a survey of native plants at Big Thompson and helped create the landscaping around the hydrological flume that was built behind the school, and we helped with various garden projects at Truscott, Van Buren and Ferguson. We have a close relationship with High Plains School and have collaborated with frequent visits, presentations, an ecology club and project-based learning panels. For many years, we’ve hosted a mini-poww, where third graders have the chance to meet a Native American group (the Iron Family), see traditional dances, and listen to traditional songs. It’s an experience they can’t get from just reading a book.
Title: Executive Director of the Center for the High Plains Environment.
Years in that role: 14.
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