The High Plains Environmental Center Story

We have come to view what we are creating here at HPEC as a sort of botanic garden of the wild. In 2011, we had a design charrette at HPEC in which we put all the ideas on the table for our long term master plan. We were looking for a way to pull all of the projects that we have done together into a cohesive plan and this is the model that we came up with. We already have the farm and nursery pretty well developed. The mission for that area is to “Preserve Loveland’s agricultural, architectural and cultural heritage and build a plant propagation facility that also serves as a visitor destination for hands-on environmental and horticultural education.”

The chain of stormwater ponds will have trails on either side, one a paved trail that will include bikes and the other trail will be a soft trail that exclude bikes and will provide more of a contemplative nature viewing experience. The mission for this area will be to create a “Living Laboratory” that fully realizes and demonstrates the principles found in the Centerra Stormwater Guidelines.

In the third area, Old Canal Park, significant progress has already been made to accomplishing the mission to “educate the public about gardening with native plants and the corresponding benefits to wildlife”

Chain of Ponds

  • Offers a replicable working model of collaboration between environment center, developer, community, public schools and conservation groups – demonstrates ecological, economic and social benefits of this model
  • Promotes HPEC goal to consult, design, build and maintain stormwater ponds that replicate natural wetland functions
  • McWhinney (developer) will build ponds as a part of a working stormwater system
  • Chain of ponds features varying degrees of retained moisture and corresponding plant communities
  • Creates high quality habitat (amphibians, turtles, birds)
  • Improves water quality by filtering runoff through plant material
  • Provides a place for quiet nature experience


Old Canal Park

  • Increase public appreciation of existing natural features of HPEC
  • Engage businesses, residents and the general public in environmental stewardship
  • Gardens feature wildflowers and native plants
  • Plant Select Demonstration Site
  • Utilize lawn area to increase community involvement (eg., bocce ball)
  • Viewing platform provides optimal bird-watching opportunity
  • Generate revenue through rental for weddings and events (maximum event capacity 100)



  • Greenhouse will be used to propagate vegetables and native plants
  • Revenue-generating nursery will provide native plants for use in landscape restoration and pond construction projects
  • Outdoor classroom will host ecoliteracy programs in partnership with adjacent public school
  • WILD ZONE offers unique nature experience for children
  • Community gardens promote local foods and sustainable agriculture
  • High degree of excellence and innovation in design, low relative cost (replicable), community involvement in design and construction, sustainable principles including use of recycled and locally-sourced materials
  • Public event capacity 300-500