Magazine article Sunset

Watching Wildlife at Denver's Arsenal

Magazine article Sunset

Watching Wildlife at Denver's Arsenal

Article excerpt

DEADLY COCKTAILS OF TOXIC mixtures dot parts of the 17,000-acre Rocky Mountain Arsenal, where chemical weapons and pesticides were manufactured from World War II to 1982. For nearly 50 years, this windswept prairie just 10 miles east of downtown Denver was off-limits to the public, and undeveloped. One serendipitous result is that the arsenal became a haven for an abundance of wildlife.

Recently it opened to the public for free 1 1/2-hour guided double-decker bus tours. Tours amble across the plain, some of it never plowed and still waving with native grasses such as blue grama and Western wheat grass.

Many animals come here in winter, drawn by snow-free grasses and other food sources. You'll find coyotes, prairie dogs, herds of mule and white-tailed deer, pheasants, and more bald eagles than anywhere else in Colorado. You may see as many as 40 bald eagles roosting at once; look for them in cottonwoods along First Creek.

Ferruginous hawks also winter here. …

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