The High Plains Environmental Center Story

Tom shared his idea for the creation of HPEC with Chad and Troy McWhinney, the developers of Centerra, and they readily adopted it as a visionary idea for preserving and managing open space within the development. HPEC was established as an independent nonprofit (501c3) on March 21, 2001. Through an agreement between McWhinney and the City of Loveland, HPEC is funded by environmental fees assessed through building permits on adjacent portions of Centerra. HPEC is a progressive model for a collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship between economic and environmental interests and one that we believe is worthy of replication.

When the center was created and the land donated to HPEC it had some existing native vegetation but the vast majority was weedy disturbed agricultural land. One area actually had a dump on it that included a complete railroad car. That has all been cleaned up and over the last 5 years we have been working to restore the land. The interesting thing here is the word “restore” because what we do is not conservation of something already existing, the land had already been disturbed, radically altered even. In the process of restoring the land we are introducing native plants that may not have existed here before the lakes were created. The goal then is to create viable wetland ecosystems that replicate similar natural environments in our region.

Old Canal Park gets its name from the abandoned canal built by the Greeley Loveland Irrigation Company (GLIC) which sets this area a part, forming a peninsula, surrounded on 3 sides by water. The park was paid for by McStain and McWhinney and given to HPEC in 2004. The original landscape plan for this area featured native plants but somewhere along the line when it came to the installation that got changed to more conventional plant selections.