June 2020 | Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area
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June 2020

New Heritage Trail Connects Sites Throughout the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, Starting with Poudre River Whitewater Park

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(Pictured: Bikers on the Poudre River Trail ride past the new Heritage Trail Gateway located at the Poudre River Whitewater Park in Fort Collins, Colorado.)

The Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA), managing nonprofit of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA), is excited to announce the recent installation of the first marker and gateway of their new Heritage Trail. The marker and gateway are located at the Poudre River Whitewater Park in Old Town Fort Collins.

The Heritage Trail incorporates a coordinated family of interpretive signs, markers and gateways that will be used throughout the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, drawing attention to and educating trail users about interesting and ingenious ways that humans have interacted and worked with the Poudre River to improve life on the high plains of Colorado. The Heritage Trail will highlight six main themes related to water and the Poudre River: Water for Agriculture, Water for Industry, Water for Recreation, Water for History, Water for Education, and Water for Nature.

The Heritage Trail program will also serve to connect town sites and neighborhoods, businesses, historic structures, natural areas, and recreational opportunities, such as the Whitewater Park, that are within or adjacent to the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area. The CALA extends 45 miles through Larimer and Weld counties, and through towns and cities such as Bellvue, Fort Collins, Windsor, Timnath and Greeley.

poudre whitewater park

The new Heritage Trail marker at the whitewater park speaks to the history of the Coy Ditch and Diversion Structure and how it relates to water for agriculture, recreation and industry.

This first Heritage Trail marker and gateway, located at the Poudre River Whitewater Park, speak to the history and importance of the Coy Ditch headgate and diversion structure, which led to the first in-channel water right in Colorado. This type of water right supports “in-channel” river recreation, such as kayaking, as a beneficial use within Colorado’s Doctrine of Prior Appropriations. The site is also important to the history of Water for Agriculture and Water for Industry, with the CSU Powerhouse overlooking the park and the Coy headgate still intact. The marker and gateway include QR codes connecting visitors to additional online resources about these sites.

The Poudre Heritage Alliance worked closely with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), who helped to fund the project as part of their 5-year investment plan (2016-2020). In addition, PHA worked with the City of Fort Collins Parks & Planning and Art in Public Places (APP) departments to design and install this first Heritage Trail Gateway (located on the south side of the bridge across from the wave shelter) and second, smaller informational marker (located on the north side of the bridge).

Intern Spotlight: Leslie Moore

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We are excited to welcome Leslie Moore to our staff as a program intern! Leslie comes to us through the Stewards Program run by Conservation Legacy,  which “provides individuals with service and career opportunities to strengthen communities and preserve our natural resources.”  Leslie will be working on several programs and projects with PHA, including Learning in Our Watershed, Heritage Culturalist Volunteers, Lifting Voices from the Shadows oral history project, and the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area Strategic Interpretive Plan.  Here is a bit about Leslie in her own words:

Leslie MooreI grew up in a large family just outside of Baltimore before moving to Minnesota to attend Carleton College where I studied history and spent my summers canoeing in the Boundary Waters. After graduation I began working for the Minnesota Historical Society as an interpreter at a living history farm. I spent those three years developing and leading fieldtrip programs and learning how to drive oxen, which is not easy in a nineteenth-century dress! Once I got tired of wearing a bonnet every day, I moved to Fort Collins to pursue a master’s degree in history with a concentration in historic preservation at Colorado State University. I graduated this May and am very excited to be interning with an organization that strengthens local communities by conserving and educating about nearby cultural and natural resources. If you are interested in my historical research, you can read the report I recently wrote for the City of Fort Collins about the local women’s suffrage movement.

Interview: “Lifting Voice from the Shadows” Oral History Project

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The Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA), nonprofit managing entity of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA), is collaborating with the Northern Arapaho tribe, Colorado State University’s Native American Cultural Center, and the National Heritage Areas Program to compile stories from Northern Arapaho women.

PHA Executive Director, Kathleen Benedict, interviewed Yufna Soldier Wolf of the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wind River, Wyoming, to introduce the project and discuss why it is important to record the stories of Northern Arapaho women.

The Northern Arapaho lived in the Cache la Poudre River basin for centuries before the United States military forcibly removed the tribe to Wyoming in the 1870s. It is vital that Northern Colorado communities learn the stories of the people whose historic and spiritual homeland is the Cache la Poudre River. Doing so can help people properly understand the complicated history and ecology of the region. The involved organizations hope that the “Lifting Voices from the Shadows” project will strengthen partnerships, build the PHA’s education and interpretation program, and connect people to their collective Poudre River heritage.

The project is funded by a $25,000 “Women in Parks Innovation and Impact” grant from the National Park Foundation (NPF). The goal of the grant “is to support projects and programs that help the NPS share a more comprehensive American narrative that includes the voices of women.” In particular, the initiative is meant to raise awareness of the 19th Amendment’s centennial this year and to “highlight stories of women who continue to shape the world.” However, as Benedict and Soldier Wolf discuss in the video, Indigenous women did not gain the right to vote in 1920. It was not until the Snyder Act passed in 1924 that Indigenous Americans earned their full U.S. citizenship, though some states continued to deny Indigenous Americans their enfranchisement as late as 1962.

The “Lifting Voices from the Shadows” project is an opportunity for Northern Arapaho women to share their personal experiences with voting and address contemporary issues in a respectful and professional context. Soldier Wolf believes this is the first opportunity that Northern Arapaho women have had to share their stories with the public. The PHA will record 8-12 women’s oral histories in the coming months. Thanks to the grant support, the organization will also create educational videos and interpretive materials, and share relevant content about the promises and failures of the 19th Amendment.

The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area is treasured by a community that values it for a variety of recreational activities and the tranquility of a natural corridor, while also depending on it as a water source for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses. A wide range of cultural perspectives form our rich Poudre River heritage. This project will help the PHA present creative and balanced interpretation representing the variety of cultures that make up our river corridor and helping citizens find a sense of place and continuity in a rapidly changing world.

To stay up-to-date on events and information related to this project please visit: https://poudreheritage.org/lifting-voices/