Beanstalk Foundation

What's right with Colorado is right next door.

Wetland Ecology Garden

Let's build a wetland ecology center and bring shore birds back to High Plains!

HPEC educates visitors of all ages on Colorado's widely varying ecosystems.

Update: Congratulations... We did it! With help from our partners and community members like you, the Wetland Ecology Garden is now complete. We encourage you to join us as we host the Wildflower Festival this coming June and have an official dedication ceremony. Please check out our next project here as we start producing crops for our local food bank.

The Wetland Ecology Demonstration Garden planned for construction at High Plains Environmental Center (HPEC) is a one-acre garden that demonstrates the relationship between available soil moisture, native plant communities and wildlife.

When developers build rooftops, parking lots and other impermeable surfaces, rain and snowmelt (stormwater) can no longer percolate into the ground and must be managed in order to prevent flooding. Conventional stormwater ponds provide little or nothing in the way of wildlife habitat, native plant diversity, aesthetic value, recreation or public education. 

The proposed garden replicates the natural contours and structure of wetlands in the following ways:

  • Native plants arranged in communities according to available soil moisture
  • Undulating edges vs. linear edges
  • Uneven pond bottom vs. flat bottom


Who benefits from ponds built in this way?

Wildlife: Creates high value wildlife habitat in the midst of urban and suburban development by replicating the ecological functions of natural wetlands.

Water Quality: Improves water quality and removes sediments and toxins by filtering runoff through plant material.

Human Well-being: Provides people living in urban and suburban areas with opportunities for observing and interacting with nature, which has been demonstrated to have positive impact on physical and mental health.

Children: Studies have shown that children who are allowed access to nature have decreased incidence of ADD/ADHD and related learning disabilities.

Ecoliteracy and Conservation Ethics: Human beings, increasingly removed from nature, understand little about wildlife and natural processes (eco-literacy.) In the case of children, the absence of a direct relationship with nature raises the question of where the land stewards of the nature generation will be inspired. If children (and adults) don’t know that there are marshes full of birds and ponds full of fish, turtles and frogs they are not likely to become advocates for their preservation.

Community: Turns the aesthetic and economic liability of storm water management into an enhancement in community development. Whole ecosystems = healthy communities.      

Business: Progressive developers and businesses know that being “Green” in real and quantifiable ways has direct, positive impact in the marketplace.

Challenge Leader

Jim Tolstrup

The best way to understand why Jim Tolstrup does what he does is to stand outside in a field of grass on a cool morning. Feel the breeze. Smell the sweet clarity of the air. Listen to the birds and insects and rustling of the grass. Taste your cool breath as you exhale.

Project Info

High Plains Environmental Center

The High Plains Environmental Center was conceived in 2001.