Today was a day to explore a new place, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. It was a solo wandering day, just Denise and me and Blue.
The refuge is northeast of Denver. It started as farmland and was then used as a chemical weapons manufacturing facility for World War II, as a place to manufacture agricultural chemicals (by Shell Chemical Co.), and then for the production of Cold War weapons. I think all of those things are pretty scary, don't you? The thing that is very cool is that the land was cleaned up and is now a home for birds and animals.
We started in the visitor center, looking at the exhibits, reading about the history of the refuge, and learning about the animals that live there. Next we headed out on the Wildlife Drive Auto Tour. It was ok to stop and look anywhere along that road although when we were in the section of the refuge that runs through the bison enclosure we had to stay in the car. No bison crossed our path but we did see deer in several different locations. Once they were walking toward us on the trail. We stood still and watched until they saw us and ran away.
Transition to a National Wildlife Refuge
In the early 1980s, the Army and Shell began an extensive environmental cleanup under the oversight of federal, state, and local regulatory agencies. Soon after, a roost of bald eagles was discovered prompting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to become involved in managing wildlife at the site. The discovery also led Congress to designate the site as a national wildlife refuge in 1992. In the mid-1990s, a unique public-private partnership formed among the U.S. Army, Shell Oil Co., and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As cleanup progressed and projects met federal and state regulatory requirements, the Army transferred land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish and expand the Refuge. The Arsenal’s cleanup program was completed in 2010 and the Refuge has reached its final size of 15,000 acres making it one of the largest urban refuge's in the country.
from the about page on the refuge's web site
There were trails around some lakes; that made Denise happy. She likes being in the mountains but she always likes seeing water, especially when the water is smooth and reflecting. We walked around two lakes, one small, one a bit bigger. We drove some more, then returned to walk near the lakes again.