Colorful illustration of shapes, pink flowers, and a plant
Colorful illustration of shapes, pink flowers, and a plant


Our nature spirit guide

From the very beginning, the High Plains Environmental Center (HPEC) has helped guide not only the overarching plan for Centerra’s parks and nature areas but also the efforts of Centerra residents and guests to create a place where native species can flourish. And with its demonstration gardens and heirloom fruit orchard, its native plant nursery and educational programs, its Wild Zone for kids and its raptor cams, the HPEC has inspired a whole new way to think about community.

Native beauty

The conservation and cultivation of native plants is one of HPEC’s key initiatives. Why? Because native plants are more robust, use less water and, perhaps most important of all, they help pollinators thrive. At the HPEC, you can stroll through demonstration gardens that show just how spectacular these plantings can be. And with its educational programs and annual Native Plant Sale, HPEC can help you create your own wonderful, water-wise, hummingbird-friendly gardens.

A yellow sunflower in a field with a blue sky, certified wild.
Illustration of yellow leaf with blue circle in background


Image of a bunny laying in a yard next to a fence

Into the wild (of your backyard)

Another primary focus of High Plains Environmental Center and the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat program is designing community outdoor spaces in a way that lets them serve as habitat for native wildlife. In Centerra, the parks, schoolyards, office environments and, yes, even your backyard can allow native critters to forage, find shelter and raise their young. Which is why more than 150 different species of birds, mammals, reptiles and fish call Centerra home.

Two birds in a circle on an orange background in Northern Colorado.
Over 100 Species of birds
An icon of a certified wild tree with a leaf on it in Northern Colorado.
185 Native Trees, Shrubs & Grasses
A fish icon in a blue circle representing shopping in Loveland, Northern Colorado.
29 Kinds of amphibians, Fish & Mammals

Wildly delicious

Welcome to a land of fresh-grown veggies and heirloom apples. Thanks to HPEC’s community gardens and heirloom fruit orchard, Centerra has plenty of both. And if you want to have your mind blown as well as your tastebuds tickled, consider that some of the apple trees are direct descendants of one planted by Johnny Appleseed. And others are from cuttings of the tree that dropped an apple on Sir Isaac Newton’s head, inspiring him to formulate his law of gravity. Now that’s heavy.

Image of pan plucking a tomato off of a tomato plant

Get nature-smart

With all the native gardening workshops, birdwatching tours, wildlife walks and kids programs, HPEC could also stand for “High Plains Educational Center.” The staff at HPEC know a lot and they love sharing their knowledge. They work hand-in-hand with the public, Centerra residents and with Centerra’s neighborhood High Plains School (a pre-K through 8 STEAM school) to teach adults and children about land-stewardship, native plants and how to preserve wildlife habitat. HPEC has even created the Wild Zone. Just for kids, the Wild Zone takes lessons about nature and cleverly disguises them as fun to encourage exploration.

Collage of images of a couple birdwathcing, a boy playing in the dirt with a shovel, and The Wild Zone sign
“Few people realize how much habitat has been created and is maintained within Centerra. Aside from the 275‐acres that HPEC owns and manages there are an additional 250‐acres of native grass and man‐made wetlands in stormwater ponds within Centerra. That is 525‐acres of habitat intentionally designed and managed to provide connectivity for wildlife through our growing urban corridor and allows people who live, work, or visit Centerra, to interact with nature on a daily basis.”
Jim Tolstrup, Executive Director, High Plains Environmental Center

For all the wild details and to enjoy cool stuff like the Barn Owl and Kestrel Cam.