Laramie County Conservation District and Cheyenne LEADS work together to preserve important Natural Area

Map by Laramie County GIS, Provided by Cheyenne LEADS
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (RELEASE) - The Laramie County Conservation District and Cheyenne LEADS announce the next step in their ongoing partnership to preserve an important nature area located in Cheyenne Business Parkway.

The project started with an idea that undevelopable acreage could be a hidden asset and evolved into a partnership that is creating Cheyenne’s largest managed Natural Park. Cheyenne LEADS and the Laramie County Conservation District (LCCD) have entered into agreements that will enable the district to build a new headquarters while providing for the long-term development and management of important wetland, riparian and upland habitats located in southeast Cheyenne in the lower Dry Creek watershed.

"With this partnership, we are creating a highly desirable amenity in the business park while demonstrating important urban wetland management and preserving wildlife habitat, says Cheyenne LEADS CEO Randy Bruns. "It is great to see industrial development and natural preservation co-existing."

About the Cheyenne Business Park Natural Area
The Cheyenne Business Park Natural Area (CBPNA) spanning over 134 acres is currently owned by Cheyenne LEADS and located in the Cheyenne Business Parkway. It is perhaps the only physically unimpacted natural floodplain on Dry Creek left in Cheyenne.

The area is extremely important to the community as it has maintained its ability to sprawl incoming Dry Creek water out onto its floodplain, spreading high water amounts over a wide area and slowing its velocity. Dry Creek has historically been an intermittent stream, flowing only during snowmelt and storm events as it drains approximately half of the City of Cheyenne. However, as Cheyenne’s population has grown, and floodplains have been encroached upon by development, the flow of this small waterway has changed and the stream now runs almost year-round. Not only is there more water, it comes much faster which adds to the need for ongoing area management.

Maintaining this historical floodplain within the CBPNA is imperative for not only spreading out the erosive flows but also filtering urban pollutants. The adjacent wetland ponds found in the CBPNA also help combat E.coli bacteria by capturing them in sediments and exposing them to solar radiation in the shallow ponds.

The importance of floodplain width and connectivity is important for water quality and stormwater runoff but is equally important in providing both aquatic and terrestrial habitat for the species that occupy or frequent the CBPMA including waterfowl, songbirds, mule deer, mink and racoons.

While the area provides an enormous amount of habitat it is also frequented by those who know about its public accessibility including Laramie County School District students and teachers, the Audubon Society and Laramie County Community College researchers.

The LCCD, in cooperation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, is working towards providing a kids’ fishery at one of the existing ponds. Ultimately, LCCD intends to develop this area into a community focal point to gather for events of all kinds. It is here in an industrial park that residents will be able to experience a true urban escape, whether over their lunch hour or on a Saturday afternoon with the kids. The Cheyenne Business Park Natural Area is a unique landscape that appeals to a broad spectrum of interests.

“What a valuable natural resource opportunity and partnership!” says LCCD, District Manager Shaun Kirkwood. “Working with a conservation-minded partner in LEADS will allow District staff to display their expertise in projects that are commonly implemented outside the city limits. All four LCCD programs will be able to showcase conservation projects in a mostly undisturbed natural area for the benefit of all Laramie County residents.”

In exchange for a long-term agreement to manage and improve the Natural Area, LCCD will acquire 3.3 acres adjacent to the CBPNA entrance. The district intends to build its new headquarters on that lot and use the CBPNA as a key element in its educational mission.