NoCo offers opportunities to get out

Very often, life is best experienced outside—outside of our own little worlds and outside in nature. Sometimes, however, we need to protect ourselves from outside influences.

This month's community news offers ways to bring joy to local children in need, celebrate and experience the natural world around us, and make sure our homes are safe places in which to live and thrive. 

Buy a star, brighten a child's life

In the spirit of the holiday season, Kristi’s Wish, an annual philanthropic initiative from the Kristi Visocky Memorial Fund, is raising money to help local children in need. Through Dec. 15, community members are invited to purchase and sign Kristi’s Wish Cards for $1 at any of the Schrader’s Country Stores in Larimer County. The star-shaped cards will adorn the ceilings and walls at the stores, and all proceeds will benefit ChildSafe, CASA, Crossroads Safehouse and Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County.

“Kristi’s Wish is truly a community effort,” says Bob Visocky, co-founder of the Kristi Visocky Memorial Fund. “Thanks to the generosity of northern Colorado, we can bring a joyous holiday season to local youth in need.”

Kristi’s Wish is in its sixth year and has raised more than $100,000 for local charities that serve underprivileged families and youth.

The Kristi Visocky Memorial Foundation is family-operated and was founded in 2003 in honor of Kristi Visocky, who was killed in an automobile accident at the age of 21. Her parents wished to continue her legacy of empowering troubled youth and have since raised more than $700,000 for local organizations, such as Project Self-Sufficiency, Crossroads Safehouse, SAVA, Child Safe and the Matthews House.

For more information about Kristi’s Wish or to donate visit www.kristisfund.com.

Fort Collins river restoration projects draw international recognition

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has selected the City of Fort Collins’ 2014 Poudre River restoration projects as one of 10 international restoration case studies employing “nature-based solutions." The report, “Nature-based Solutions to Address Global Societal Challenges,” draws international attention to the City Natural Area Department’s river restoration projects at McMurry and North Shields Ponds natural areas, completed in 2014.

“It’s an honor to serve as a model for river restoration in the urban setting,” says Rick Bachand, City of Fort Collins environmental program manager with the Natural Areas Department. “It is encouraging that our projects were chosen because of the efforts to bring back the Poudre’s natural flooding cycle, restore the floodplain and enhance wildlife habitat.”

Nature-based solutions promote concepts integrating a variety of ecological restoration and conservation approaches to support societal needs including flooding, mitigating the effects of climate-change, reversing habitat loss and improving people’s well-being. Case studies were chosen from different regions of the world to represent the range of ecosystem services and societal challenges that can be addressed by nature-based interventions. The City’s Poudre River restoration work and the National Park Service’s wetlands and barrier island restoration along the Mississippi Gulf Coast were the two featured case studies selected from North America.

The full report is at  https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/4619. Natural Areas river restoration efforts are also highlighted in this fun short video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2uKS0S82q4&feature=youtu.be.

Disc golf opens at Loveland's Mehaffey Park

The City of Loveland Parks and Recreation Department opened a disc golf course in Mehaffey Park located west of Wilson Avenue, between 22nd and 29th Streets. The new course is open to the public every day, year-round during park hours, 6am-10:30pm.

The course layout was planned with input from Chris Thomas, a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), and Jon Boothe, PDGA member and Northern Colorado Disc Golf Club president. More than 20 volunteers who spent the morning of Saturday, Oct. 17, securing rubber tee mats and setting baskets, performed most of the course installation. Leading this effort was Ryan Mills, a 13-year-old Eagle Scout candidate who used the event as his community service project to earn his badge.

The layout will be adjusted as the city receives feedback from users on how the course plays. City staff anticipate a yearlong testing period, followed by replacement of the temporary rubber-mat tees with concrete pads. Supplementary basket sleeves will be installed to allow variety in the layout.

Disc golf is a precision accuracy sport in which individual players traverse through a course and throw flying discs at a targets. Rules are similar to those of traditional golf, and the object of the game is to complete the course with the fewest number of throws. The game is free and designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages, which makes the sport affordable and family-friendly.

For more information on Mehaffey Park please visit www.cityofloveland.org/mehaffey.

Got radon? Get tested

Forty-six percent of all homes in Colorado are estimated to be breeding grounds for lung cancer and other health issues due to the high level of radon gas they contain. With testing, you can determine if you're home has high, unhealthy levels of the poisonous gas.

Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that results from the natural decay of uranium found in rock formations, soil and water. Radon typically moves up through the ground and into homes through cracks and other holes in a house’s foundation.

With funding from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Weld County Health Department is offering free radon test kits to any Weld County resident—limit one per household. Test kits are available for a low cost from city governments in Larimer County. Professional radon testers also can be hired to perform the test.

If a home tests high for radon, remediation can mitigate the problem. “The cost of remediation is comparable to replacing a residential hot water heater,” says Dr. Mark Wallace, Weld County Health Department executive director.

To receive a free radon test kit, visit the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, 1555 N. 17thAve., Greeley; or the Southwest Weld County Health Department satellite office (near I-25 and Hwy.119) at 4209 CR 24½, Longmont. Both offices are open 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday. For more information on radon, radon testing and mitigation, call Gabrielle Vergara, Weld County environmental health educator, at 970-400-2226.