For 30 years, FOGG has been there for Garden of the Gods Park, teams of nature-loving volunteers whose work and dedication was chronicled in a special FOGGhorn publication.

These Friends of Garden of the Gods were celebrated with a November anniversary evening tour and dinner at Space Foundation Discovery Center close to the park.

Naturalist and historian Melissa Walker, who wrote a guidebook for the Garden, welcomed everyone: “Happy 30th anniversary to FOGG, happy 150th birthday to our city and happy 50th anniversary of the garden’s designation as a national natural landmark. Thanks to all of you for caring for the Garden.”

Garden of the Gods is, in the words of FOGG board president Scott Hente, “The best park in the country.”

Walker said this gem had been run down when she joined the park staff in the early 1900s. There were eroding, unofficial trails throughout the park and “noisy buses and cars jammed the two-way street that went right between the Gateway Rocks, then parked in the expansive parking lot in the heart of the garden.”

“Fortunately, visionary leaders had already begun to lay the groundwork for solutions,” she said. A master plan was underway by beloved Parks Director Nancy Lewis, working with Parks Interpretive Supervisor Gene Smith, who had also recommended forming a group of Garden volunteers in 1991.

The “boots on the ground” FOGG members were vital to the master plan development, Walker said. In those pre-social media days, the FOGGhorn newsletter was their communication and became the group archives. It has been produced by Jane Gasko, Sue Stoner and Kari Martin.

The master plan was approved in 1994 and in 1995 a new visitor center opened, “made possible by the incredible vision and philanthropy of Lyda Hill,” Walker said.

There were highlights of FOGG members’ work shared, many around the park’s wildlife and flora and fauna.

For more than 20 years, Jane and Cliff Eisenach closely viewed and monitored the nesting prairie falcons. Now their work is done by Michele McMurray, who supplies the information to Colorado Parks and of Wildlife.

Board member Jeanne McElderry “conducted public observations of the Garden’s bats” for almost 20 years. Al Rodney now leads the summer bat programs.

FOGG programs, done in partnership with other partners, include Bighorn Sheep Day, Earth Day, Fossil Day and Full Moon Hike.

In 2018, the volunteers studied and did an inventory of the park’s nocturnal honey ants, first recorded in 1882. FOGG learned that between 1975 and 2018, the nesting sites had decreased by 42%, a survey that received national honors.

Volunteers lead many school and educational programs, and there is a Junior Ranger program. After the nearby Waldo Canyon fire in 2012, FOGG gave $44,000 toward flood and trail reclamation in the garden, Walker said.

Walker congratulated FOGG for continuing the work preserving the garden “day by day, year after year.” (friends ofgardenofthegods.org)

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