Inspired by our March and April guest speakers, both of whom talked about how fiber artists respond to their surroundings in their work, and art can be activism, Handweavers Guild of Boulder challenges you to let your imagination run wild this year as you knit, crochet, felt, bead, quilt, weave, embroider, and more: inspired by the topic of our Colorado prairie and grassland. We’ve compiled many wonderful resources to inspire you. We’ll come together in late fall to see what we all made, and if we have a good body of work, look for a place to display it in 2024, perhaps in conjunction with the Guild’s 60th anniversary.
For those who would like to learn more about the little teeny bit of remaining tallgrass prairie here in Boulder County (which was only a narrow band right along the foothills; by a few miles out from the foothills, shortgrass prairie takes over, as it is more adapted to dry conditions,) here is an academic paper by W.H. Moir, who was instrumental back in the '60s and '70s in preserving the remaining scraps of it.
Here is a list of common names of some potentially interesting insects associated with grasslands. I am giving common names for most, but scientific names in a few cases. These should provide good starting points for research about these different insects.
If you want to get involved and help collect, clean, and sow seeds for native plants, grasses, flowers, and even trees, check out Wildland Restoration Volunteers.
Boulder County Parks and Open Space owns or manages more than 100,000 acres of land! That includes mountain and foothills properties, but well over half of it is on the plains; some is leased for agriculture, some is parks and trails, and some is just kept as natural prairie. All of it is protected in perpetuity from development.
Boulder County uses volunteers for many projects as well. (often partnering with Wildland Restoration Volunteers, as do the cities of Boulder, Longmont, and Lafayette). It's early in the season, so there's not much listed yet, but here is the Boulder County Parks and Open Space volunteer page.
Where to see Grassland Ecosystems
You can get a glimpse of the shortgrass prairie ecosystem along many of the trails in local Open Space properties, once you get away from the riparian areas (along streams, which are a different though related ecosystem) The Left Hand or Foothills North Trails north of Boulder would be one place. The South Boulder Creek Trail, either at Marshall Road just south of Boulder or east from the S.Boulder Rec Center is one place to get little glimpses of that tallgrass prairie that survives in those wetter areas.
To get a feel for what this land might have looked like before European settlement here, one of the biggest preserved areas close by is Soapstone Prairie Reserve north of Fort Collins near the Wyoming border.
Big Bluestem grass in South Boulder in Autumn, photo by Janet Strickler
Top image by Robert Linn Photography, used with permission