Longmont remembers one local veteran with a nature area that serves as a designated bird sanctuary and honors all St. Vrain Valley Veterans. The Jim Hamm Nature Area offers scenic views of the Rocky Mountains, areas to enjoy a picnic, and paved trails for biking.
Originally developed in 1976, the Jim Hamm Nature Area comprises 24 acres, including a 14-acre pond. The land was donated to the City of Longmont in 1974 by the Hamm family in memory of their son, Captain James Edward (Jim) Hamm, a U.S. Air Force pilot who was shot down over Vietnam in 1968, and in honor of all St. Vrain Valley Veterans who fought in that war. Jim spent his youth hunting, fishing, and exploring the land that once was part of his grandfather’s farm (Elmer Montgomery).
In 1997, a master plan for the park was developed that included three phases of improvement, and the Hamm family donated more land to facilitate the plan in 2003. The park’s development was completed in three phases with the first in 2001, then 2006, and the final phase was completed in November 2014. Some of the newest additions to the nature area include a bird blind designed to let people watch birds in their natural habitat without disturbing them and a bird pergola topped with four model planes arranged in the missing man formation, which Air Force craft perform to commemorate a pilot who has died.
The pond in the park is a designated bird sanctuary that welcomes a variety of birds throughout the year, and the Front Range’s panoramic vista, as seen from the park, is illustrated on a panel located on the pond’s viewing deck.
The St. Vrain Valley School District uses the park for environmental learning projects and the local VFW and American Legion hold Memorial and Veterans Day events at the park. The pond water is supplied by Ute Creek and Spring Gulch, and the water level fluctuates by season and year, influencing the kind and number of birds that use the pond. The Foothills Audubon Society has conducted several bird counts there, spotting as many as 80 different bird species.
Jim Hamm Nature Area is located at 1701 E. County Line Road. Picnic areas and paved trails allow visitors plenty of opportunities to enjoy bird watching, biking, walking, fishing, and enjoying the spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains.