Teens’ passion rooted in nature

Posted 5/24/09

They are called the RatPak but instead of entertainment, the group of teenagers from the Roxborough neighborhood is focused on the environment. More …

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Teens’ passion rooted in nature


They are called the RatPak but instead of entertainment, the group of teenagers from the Roxborough neighborhood is focused on the environment.

More than 20 members of the RatPak recently gathered at Sterling Ranch to plant more than 70 Pinon Pine trees on site as one of the first steps in a community effort to create a water-wise and sustainable community. The planting of the pines also signified the RatPak’s honoring of the Armed Forces.

Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado’s Adjutant General, recognized the RatPak by presenting each teen with a Military Challenge Coin. The coins, also called Commander’s Coins, are awarded by high-ranking military officers in recognition of service.

Sterling Ranch principals presented a donation to the Colorado National Guard Foundation.

“We are pleased that the kids in this community are as passionate about preserving and enhancing the natural beauty of this land,” said Sterling Ranch Owner Diane Smethills.

“We welcome the efforts of our neighbors of all ages as they find ways to work with us to improve the property.”

The area will be a test site to determine the types of water-wise vegetation most likely to thrive in the proposed community’s 1,100 acres of open space. You can see the RatPak’s efforts by looking west from the Safeway.

“The idea is to bring pride to the Roxborough community by creating this group,” said founding RatPak parent Barbara Chase. “Kids this age are going to commune one way or the other. Through projects like the tree planting, we’re providing something that everyone can feel a part of and take pride in, because we all live here.”

Sterling Ranch principals have spent more than seven years meeting with water, conservation, and infrastructure experts, along with local residents and Douglas County planning members. One of the leading objectives is to respect the natural environment and enhance it when possible, while effectively planning for the county’s projected growth demands.

Sterling Ranch’s development plan, calls for more than one third of the land to remain open space and be landscaped in a water-wise manner that preserves and enhances the natural beauty of the property. A key piece of that includes replacing natural growth lost to overgrazing and other impacts. Sterling Ranch, which intends to be the first 21st Century water-wise land plan in this part of the country, also recently planted more than 300 acres of water-tolerant native grasses on another section of the site.

As it’s built over the next few decades, Sterling Ranch is expected to create more than 4,000 new jobs and contribute approximately $11 million in sales and property taxes annually. Plans also call for Sterling Ranch to eventually be home to several schools, including a new high school.

Sterling Ranch LLC donated $500 to the RatPak and the local Safeway store donated a $200 gift card to the group. Additionally, in honor of Armed Services Day, the Sterling Ranch partners donated to the Colorado Freedom Memorial fund, which is dedicated to creating a monument to honor the more than 6,000 Coloradans lost to all wars.

The RatPak formed in 2006 by parents seeking to provide a sense of community and worthwhile after school activities for students bused out of the neighborhood for school each day.

“RatPak members decide together which community and recreational activities they’ll participate in,” said founding parent Barbara Chase.


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