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Get to Know Your Greenway
Overland Pond Park
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By: J.J. Clark
SPREE Staff Writer
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Take a fishing pole and a picnic to enjoy a day out at Overland Pond Park this month.  Overland Pond Park offers an escape from the city without ever leaving it. 

Along with the pond itself, the banks are lush with native plants and signs of animal life.  Blue Grama (Colorado’s state grass) is abundant and evidence of recent beaver activity marks many of the cottonwood trees around the pond.  The pond is home to rainbow trout, carp, blue gill, and other species of fish.  Cormorants, herons, and egrets often feed at the pond and turtles and frogs have been spotted here as well.

Overland Pond is a reclaimed gravel mining pit that was redesigned as a learning park along the banks of the South Platte River.  The native plantings are a reminder of what the Colorado prairie might have looked like before human activity.  Serving as a habitat sanctuary for migratory birds and other South Platte River fauna, trees that fall are left down to provide homes for small animals and nutrients for future pond life. 

In addition to being the home for the 5th grade SPREE excursion, Overland Pond is also the host to nine Fishing for Kids programs each year.  Fishing for Kids programming is provided for SPREE Schools through a partnership with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and ELK (Environmental Learning for Kids). For these educational fishing clinics, the pond is stocked with rainbow trout, and the students are taught basic casting, fish anatomy, pond ecology, and fish identification and handling lessons.  Students enjoy a day of catch and release fishing and get to keep their fishing pole at the end of the day.

Over the course of 2011, TGF and the City and County of Denver initiated the formation of a working group, including Overland neighborhood residents, to interact with representatives from the Trustees of Colorado’s Natural Resource Damages Funds program (NRDs).  The focus of this effort was to develop a request from TGF to obtain  $1.7 Million of NRDs funding to help restore water quality, habitat, and riparian areas along a two-mile stretch of the South Platte River in south Denver.

The funds were awarded to TGF and will be used to implement projects identified in the River Vision Implementation Plan (RVIP) to restore, protect, and enhance riparian habitat in the Grant Frontier, Pasquinel’s Landing, and Overland Pond areas.

In addition, TGF secured a $250,000 award from Colorado’s Water Supply Reserve Account for the preliminary design efforts of the RVIP recommendations within this area, as well as a $65,000 Fishing is Fun grant from Colorado Parks & Wildlife for further enhancements to Overland Pond.

TGF is grateful to all those who helped obtain the needed funds to make these improvements a reality.

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Get to Know Your Greenway is written by SPREE staffer J.J. Clark.  Each month, J.J. explores a park along the South Platte River and ties the history of the park into his commentary.  Want to talk to J.J. about where he has been this month?  Email him at: jj@spreemail.org