This past week former FBI agent and City of Fort Collins Master Naturalist, Brian Carroll presented the homesteading history of the Soapstone Prairie area.  According to Carroll, the first ‘homesteaders’ were Ice Age PaleoIndians more than 12,000 years ago.  More recently the Homestead Act of 1862 allowed settlers in good standing with the US Government to claim 160 acres for their own.  Carroll was introduced by his brother-in-law, RCFC Programs Co-Chair Dave Stewart.
Of the many who claimed land at Soapstone, Carroll asserts that only two succeeded.  The rest either abandoned their claim or sold it to others.  Life was harsh due to winds, dry-land conditions, and distance to any town or supplies.  When homesteaders left, neighbors often claimed windows, doors, or any other useful materials.  Later ranchers would destroy any remaining buildings to minimize any taxes.  
Today the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area is bordered on the north by the Wyoming state line, and is home to a purebred American Bison herd.  
Carroll has also been actively involved with several Fort Collins Boards and Commissions, including twelve years as an active Volunteer with Fort Collins Natural Areas Program.  There he has focused on the relationship of human culture with the natural environment.