Pelican Ponds Open Space Grand Opening

Adams County Commissioners, staff, and the Colorado Attorney General celebrated the grand opening of Pelican Ponds Open Space on Thursday, June 6. Pelican Ponds Open Space, located at 9200 Riverdale Rd., Thornton, is a restored, 200-acre property located along the west bank of the South Platte River Trail between 88th Avenue and 96th Avenue in Thornton.

“The passionate staff in our Parks, Open Space and Cultural Arts department have put years of work into this property to improve the quality of life for our residents,” said Steve O’Dorisio, Board of Commissioners chair. “With the goal of improving access to parks and open space in Adams County, they will continue working to maintain connectivity along the South Platte River Trail and the network of multimodal options available to our residents.”

This project restored and enhanced surface water, wetlands, groundwater, riparian, and grassland habitats. The developed public access facilities and recreation opportunities, including a parking lot, picnic shelters, fishing access improvements, trails, signage, and wildlife viewing will allow Adams County residents to enjoy the South Platte River Trail and the restored natural habitat.

“There was a common purpose to make this community more beautiful so future generations can take in these open spaces and advance the overall vision of a northeast greenway corridor,” said Phil Weiser, Colorado Attorney General. “This effort involved incredible leadership across different jurisdictions and government entities on behalf of the people of Colorado.”

This property, formerly known as 88th Avenue Open Space, was originally a sand and gravel mining site, which resulted in a significantly degraded ecosystem. The South Pond was prone to occasional flooding and would result in damage to the South Platte River Trail and debris accumulation. It also had a large population of invasive vegetation species.

“The size of the property and variety of natural habitats presented an opportunity for natural resource restoration and recreational improvements,” said Byron Fanning, Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts director. “A secondary channel was added to improve habitat and increase flood conveyance, and the ecological restoration was achieved by planting and seeding native vegetation across more than 20 acres.”

The project was a collaboration between a variety of partners and stakeholders, including State of Colorado Natural Resource Trustees; Adams County Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts Department; Urban Drainage & Flood Control District; Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife; and Metro Wastewater Reclamation District.

For more information about parks, open space, and cultural art in Adams County, visit