Conservation > County Surveys

County Surveys

For over 15 years, CNHP has conducted surveys to locate and track occurrences of biologically significant wetland communities and populations of uncommon wetland plants and animals. This is one of the core research activities of CNHP and these studies often include upland communities, plants, and animals as well as their wetland counterparts. A map of counties surveyed by CNHP is available here The data collected through these surveys are housed in our Biotics database, which contains thousands of records throughout Colorado and allows CNHP to rank and track areas of high biodiversity significance. CNHP will continue to seek funding for surveys of significant wetland elements; these studies may be at the county scale or at alternative scales such as watersheds, planning areas, or eco-regions.

Click a county link below to jump to that county's surveys.

Archuleta County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetland Resources in Archuleta County, 2005

Karin Freeman, Maggie March, and Denise Culver

In cooperation with the CPW, CNHP conducted a survey of critical wetlands in Archuleta County. Protection of the San Juan River watershed is a priority for CPW, Archuleta County, the Southwest Land Alliance, and CNHP due to the increasing pressures from rapid development, water diversions, and mineral extraction. The final product of this survey provides land managers with a proactive tool to guide development away from biologically sensitive wetlands. The wetland survey compliments the Upper San Juan Basin Biological Assessment, completed by CNHP in 2003.

To view the full report, click here.

Within a fen on the San Juan National Forest, Karin Freeman tests water pH in a stand of cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium) Within a fen on the San Juan National Forest, Karin Freeman tests water pH in a stand of cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium).

With the assistance of Archuleta County, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Forest Service, and the Southwest Land Alliance, CNHP documented a 99% success rate in obtaining permission to access private lands. This success is a testament to the commitment of Archuleta County’s residents to protect and conserve this valuable resource.

Thirty-six sites of biodiversity significance were documented. Of these, four are nearly irreplaceable in terms of biodiversity significance (B2) and 21 are of high biodiversity significance (B3). Highlights of the survey include the discovery of several intermediate fens, including a floating peat-mat fen, which supports a globally imperiled mud sedge (Carex limosa) community and a newly discovered population of the state-rare purple marshlocks (Comarum palustre). In addition, new populations of the state-rare knotsheath sedge (Carex retrorsa), and new occurrences of the globally imperiled narrowleaf cottonwood/bluestem willow riparian community (Populus angustifolia/Salix irrorata) were documented.

Alamosa & Costilla Counties(Top)

Survey of Critical Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Southern Alamosa and Costilla counties, San Luis Valley, 2004

Joe Rocchio

Seventeen wetland and riparian sites of biodiversity significance were documented. Of the 17, two sites were deemed nearly irreplaceable (B2) and 13 were of high biodiversity significance (B3). The slender spider flower (Cleome multicaulis), a regional endemic, was one of the target species.

To view the full report, click here.

Medano Creek in Alamosa County. Medano Creek in Alamosa County.

Boulder County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetland Resources in Boulder County, 2007

Joanna Lemly, Stephanie Neid, Denise Culver, Chris Gaughan, Brad Lambert

Boulder County contains numerous wetlands with high ecological value for both the county and the state. Because of its position on the Front Range, the county supports a wide range of wetland types, from lower montane riparian woodlands and relic tall grass prairie wet meadows on the plains surrounding the county’s major cities, to pristine high elevation fens in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Through a grant from the EPA, Boulder County funded a survey of these important habitats.

Todd Gulch Fen Todd Gulch Fen.

One highlight of the summer survey was Todd Gulch Fen, a quaking, floating mat fen dominated by lesser panicled sedge (Carex diandra), a state rare species (G5 S1) and a significant population of woolfruit sedge (Carex lasiocarpa) (G5S1). Additionally, CNHP was able to survey several pristine fens in the high subalpine of Boulder County, including one site located on a private in-holding within the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and several fens within the City of Boulder Watershed. These wetlands contain a number of important plant communities, some of which are common and some of which are uncommon and not well understood. The Ute ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes diluvialis) (G2S2LT) was a target wetland species, especially along South Boulder Creek. Boulder County contains some of the most important habitat for this species in the Colorado. Nineteen new Potential Conservation Areas with Biodiversity Significance ranks (B Ranks) were documented during 2007: one Very High Significance (B2), 16 High Significance (B3) and two Moderate Significance (B4).

Assessment of Critical Biological Resources in Boulder County 2007

Stephanie Neid, Susan Spackman Panjabi, Rob Schorr, Chris Gaughan, David G. Anderson

Boulder County has a wealth of biodiversity and is unique within the Front Range. It spans the range of elevation from plains and foothills to montane, subalpine, and alpine zones within a contracted area. Boulder County is known for perhaps the highest plant diversity in the state – 1500 species, or fully half of the species known from Colorado.

To view the full report, click here.

Field work in Boulder County Field work in Boulder County.

Although Boulder County has been studied by many eminent biologists through numerous research endeavors, a countywide survey for rare elements of biodiversity had never been done. The available biodiversity information was in many cases incomplete, outdated, and stored in many disparate sources, which complicates the many planning efforts that occur in the county. To address this problem, Boulder County Parks and Open Space, with support from the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, funded a comprehensive county-wide biological survey. In addition to performing field inventory, this project collated existing information into a common data standard. A single, comprehensive database informs planning and stewardship efforts and guides the acquisition and management of open space.

In addition to documenting large expanses of intact ecological systems at all elevations within the county, dozens of locations of globally rare species were found and updated. Globally rare plant highlights include updates on Bell’s twinpod (Physaria bellii) and updates and new locations for Larimer aletes (Aletes humilis) and Rocky Mountain cinquefoil (Potentilla rupincola). Locations for Townsend’s big-eared bat (Plecotus townsendii pallescens), northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens), and Preble’s meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) were also documented.

Chaffee County (Top)

Survey of Critical Biological Resources in Chaffee County, 2008

Denise Culver, Delia Malone, and Stephanie Neid

In 2008, Chaffee County became the 31st Colorado county surveyed for critical biological resources by CNHP. With funding from Chaffee County, Great Outdoors Colorado, CPW, the BLM, and the EPA, Region 8, the survey included both wetland and upland areas.

To view the full report, click here.

CNHP Ecologist Denise Culver keys out a plant CNHP Ecologist Denise Culver keys out a plant.

Chaffee County has three Potential Conservation Areas (PCA) ranked with an Outstanding Biodiversity Significance (B1) due to the rarity and/or excellent condition of a species. The Middle and South Cottonwood Creek PCA is Colorado’s best breeding site for the State Endangered (G4T1QS1) Boreal Toad (Bufo boreas boreas). The

Castle Gardens and Droney Gulch PCAs are also ranked as outstanding due to the documentation of the critically imperiled (G1G2S1S2) Brandegee wild buckwheat (Eriogonum brandegeei), a Colorado endemic and Fendler’s townsend-daisy (Townsendia fendleri) (G2S2), a regional endemic.

The project increased the number of PCAs in the county to 57 and added 53 new element occurrences and updated 27 known occurrences. The information from the survey is already being used by several land trusts to establish conservation easements for private properties, and also provides an additional data resource for the Chaffee County’s Comprehensive Plan.

Delores County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Dolores County, 2005

Maggie March, Denise Culver, Peggy Lyon, Julia Hanson and Sarah Eastin

The results from the wetland survey yielded 25 wetland and riparian PCAs. Two PCAs were nearly irreplaceable in terms of biodiversity significance (B2), 13 are of high biodiversity significance (B3). Several PCAs supported large, intact wetlands dominated by sheep sedge (Carex illota) which is a fen indicator. Other PCAs supported extensive beaver enhanced willow wetlands throughout the higher elevations.

To view the full report, click here.

Dolores River in Dolores County. Dolores River in Dolores County.

El Paso & Pueblo Counties (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetlands and Riparian Areas in El Paso and Pueblo Counties, 2001

Joe Rocchio, Denise Culver, Steve Kettler and Robert Schorr

One of the most biologically significant wetland sites in Pueblo County is Chico Basin. It is an extensive Great Plains wetland and riparian complex that includes several globally rare natural communities and several globally secure but locally significant natural communities that are in fair to good condition. The Plains leopard frogs (Rana blairi) (G5 S3) have been observed in the seep communities and the Arkansas Darter (Etheostoma cragini) (G3 S2) have been documented in Chico Creek. Black Squirrel Creek is a large mosaic of wetland communities that support a population of Arkansas Darter as well as Northern Leopard Frogs (Rana pipiens).

To view the full report, click here.

A playa in Pueblo County. A playa in Pueblo County.

Fremont County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetland Resources in Fremont County, 2005

Stephanie Neid

In 2004, CNHP was awarded funds from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources via a grant from the EPA, Region 8, to survey critical wetlands and riparian areas in Fremont County, Colorado. With additional assistance from the BLM and the CPW, 80% of the targeted inventory areas were evaluated during the summer of 2005. In total, 27 new occurrences of globally vulnerable or globally imperiled wetland natural communities were assessed. These occurrences span the wide range of elevation in Fremont County from plains, barrens, and foothills to montane, subalpine, and alpine zones. Twenty-one known natural community occurrences documented in the mid- to late 1990’s were re-visited and re-assessed; several on BLM lands showed positive ecological improvements as a result of land management changes. One new rare wetland plant population, of the globally imperiled pale blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium pallidum) was discovered during the 2005 field season.

To view the full report, click here.

Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area in northeastern Fremont County Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area in northeastern Fremont County.

The final report documents 18 Potential Conservation Areas (PCAs) that highlight biologically sensitive wetlands. These PCAs can guide planning efforts and identify unique areas of wetland biodiversity within Fremont County.

Garfield County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Garfield County, 2002

Joe Rocchio, Peggy Lyon and John Sovell

Wetland survey efforts in Garfield County identified many areas worthy of global and regional significance. East Rifle Creek, especially within Rifle Mountain Park, and East Elk Creek are a few examples. Both of these areas support healthy, globally rare, diverse riparian communities in addition to unique spring and hanging garden wetlands. One of the riparian communities along the Colorado River is considered to be globally imperiled (Populus fremontii/Rhus trilobata). One of most significant wetland resources thus far identified in Garfield County is the numerous seeps and springs scattered throughout the county. Most of Garfield County is extremely arid, thus the presence of periodic areas of wetland and open water habitat provide a critical element to landscape diversity in this portion of western Colorado.

To view the full report, click here.

Flattops in Garfield County. Flattops in Garfield County.

Gilpin County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetland and Riparian Areas in Gilpin County 2010

Dee Malone, Joe Stevens, and Denise Culver

The Survey of Critical Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Gilpin County was conducted to identify the locations and condition of vulnerable riparian and geographically isolated wetland resources within the county. Funding for the project was provided by Region 8 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The main outcome of the project was a map and assessment of the condition of wetlands in the South Platte watershed within Gilpin County. The assessment of wetlands in this project identified the highest quality and most threatened wetland resources for protection. Ancillary to this process, the survey efforts also identified those wetlands in need of restoration to improve wetland condition. Federal, state, local, and private, and non-profit partners can use these assessments to target protection and/or restoration efforts.

Results were interpreted and disseminated to parties that can implement conservation of critical wetland resources into countywide heritage and land-use planning efforts. Additionally, data collected was used for calibration and validation of the Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity and Ecological Integrity Scorecards.

A slope wetland, in Gilpin County. A slope wetland in Gilpin County.

The Gilpin County survey documented 14 Potential Conservation Areas (PCA) with significant wetland or riparian resources. There is one PCA ranked with a Very High Biodiversity Significance (B2); five PCA’s are ranked with High Biodiversity Significance (B3); while the remaining eight PCA’s are ranked with Moderate Biodiversity Significance (B4). The Mammoth Gulch PCA is ranked Very High Biodiversity Significance (B2) due to the presence of a good quality occurrence of a rare iron fen ((Picea engelmannii) / Betula nana / Carex aquatilis - Sphagnum angustifolium Woodland).

To view the full report, click here.

Grand County (Top)

Survey of Critical Biological Resources in Grand County 2005

Denise Culver and Jennifer Jones

CNHP has been systematically conducting county-based surveys for rare and imperiled species and significant plant communities since 1992. During the 2005 field season, we surveyed Grand County with support from a Great Outdoors Colorado Planning Grant and Grand County Department of Natural Resources. Grand County is a place of tremendous beauty and diverse recreational interests. The economy over the years has steadily changed from agriculture to tourism. In recognition of their valuable natural resources, Grand County is taking a proactive planning approach to ensure the protection and conservation of these exceptional natural resources for years to come.

Jennifer Jones and CNHP volunteers Rich Scully and Mary Jane Howell keying out plants near Granby in Grand County Jennifer Jones and CNHP volunteers Rich Scully and Mary Jane Howell keying out plants near Granby in Grand County.

The survey prioritized field efforts on rare, sensitive, and unique plants and plant communities. CNHP documented expansions of the known range for the federally listed Endangered plants Osterhout’s milkvetch (Astragalus osterhoutii) and Penland’s beardtongue (Penstemon penlandii), as well as other rare plants. Two county records resulted from the field surveys – dropleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum exilifolium), a globally imperiled plant, and three-tip sagebrush (Artemisia tripartita), previously not documented on the West Slope.

One of the most valuable outcomes of the project was the active involvement of the advisory council formed by CNHP as part of the project. The enthusiastic involvement of the council was a major factor in accessing private properties. The importance of community-based conservation cannot be overstated. Field surveys are the first step in the protection of biological resources. The advisory council will ensure that the data will be incorporated into ongoing, community-based open space planning. Project data provide the advisory council and Grand County with baseline information needed to make wise land use decisions, maximizing the consideration of biological diversity in the planning process.

To view the full report, click here.

Gunnison County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Gunnison County, 2003

Joe Rocchio, Georgia Doyle and Renée Rondeau

Field surveys began in June 2002 and continued through September 2002. High quality examples of wetlands and riparian areas and those supporting populations of rare wetland-dependent species were given highest priority. Results of the wetland and riparian survey confirm that Gunnison County contains areas with high biological significance and a diverse array of wetlands that support a wide variety of plants, animals, and plant associations. At least 49 major wetland/riparian plant communities, 10 plants, four birds, one fish, one amphibian, and two invertebrates from CNHP's Tracking List of plants, animals, and plant communities are known to occur in, or are associated with, wetlands in Gunnison County.

To view the full report, click here.

Pond dominated by beaked sedge (Carex utriculata) and narrowleaf bur-reed (Sparganium emersum), with East Beckwith Mountain in the background. Pond dominated by beaked sedge (Carex utriculata) and narrowleaf bur-reed (Sparganium emersum), with East Beckwith Mountain in the background.

Hinsdale County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Hinsdale County, Colorado 2008

Stephanie Neid, Dee Malone, Jennifer Jones, Jennifer Davin

In 2005, CNHP was awarded funds from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources via a grant from the EPA, Region 8, to survey critical wetlands and riparian areas in Hinsdale County, Colorado. With additional assistance from the BLM, USFS and the CPW, sixty percent of the 138 targeted inventory areas were assessed during the summer of 2006. A second field season in 2007 was funded by the BLM in which 55 additional sites of seeps and springs were evaluated. In total twenty-one new occurrences of globally vulnerable or globally imperiled wetland natural communities were assessed, several of which are unique iron fens. There are concentrations of rare fen wetlands in Hinsdale County due to its relatively high elevation. Nine known natural community occurrences documented in the mid- to late 1990’s were re-visited and re-assessed. One new rare wetland plant population, of the globally vulnerable Altai cottongrass (Eriophorum altaicum var. neogaeum) was discovered during the 2006 field season and another known occurrence was revisited.

Fen wetland, American Basin near the Continental Divide in Hinsdale County Fen wetland, American Basin near the Continental Divide in Hinsdale County.

The final report documents twenty-six wetland and riparian Potential Conservation Areas, twenty-one of which are new and four are updates, which highlight biologically sensitive wetlands. These areas can guide planning efforts and identify unique areas of wetland biodiversity within Hinsdale County. Data also facilitates conservation action planning implemented by the Lake Fork Watershed Stakeholders.

To view the full report, click here.

Survey of Critical Wetland Resources in Hinsdale County, 2006

Stephanie Neid, Jennifer Jones, and Jennifer Davin

In 2005, CNHP was awarded funds from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources via a grant from the EPA, Region 8, to survey critical wetlands and riparian areas in Hinsdale County, Colorado. With additional assistance from the BLM, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the CPW, sixty percent of the 138 targeted inventory areas were assessed during the summer of 2006. In total, 21 new occurrences of globally vulnerable or globally imperiled wetland natural communities were assessed, several of which are unique iron fens. There are concentrations of rare fen wetlands in Hinsdale County due to its relatively high elevation. Nine known natural community occurrences documented in the mid- to late 1990s were re-visited and re-assessed. One new rare wetland plant population of the globally vulnerable (G4?T3T4) Altai cottongrass (Eriophorum altaicum var. neogaeum) was discovered during the 2006 field season and another known occurrence was revisited.

Fen wetland, Hurricane Basin. Fen wetland, Hurricane Basin

The final report documents 26 wetland and riparian Potential Conservation Areas (PCAs), 22 of which are new and four are updates, which highlight biologically sensitive wetlands. These PCAs can guide planning efforts to conserve unique areas of wetland biodiversity within Hinsdale County. Data will also facilitate conservation action planning implemented by the Lake Fork Watershed Stakeholders.

Jefferson County (Top)

Survey of Critical Biological Resources in Jefferson County 2010-2011

John Sovell, Pam Smith, Denise Culver, Susan Panjabi and Joe Stevens

In the spring of 2010, CNHP identified 92 potential survey areas for significant plants, animals, wetland, and upland habitats. Summer field surveys were conducted within 57% of the TIAs and those areas found to contain significant elements were delineated as PCAs.

CNHP identified 46 PCAs in Jefferson County. Thirty-nine of these 46 PCAs are either new or updated. The two PCAs ranked with Outstanding Biodiversity Significance (B1) include the South Platte River Valley and Hankins Gulch PCAs, which achieve B1 ranks due to the presence of globally critically imperiled (G1) element occurrences that are in excellent (A ranked) condition. These elements are the Pawnee montane skipper butterfly (Hesperia leonardus montana) and Rocky Mountain monkeyflower (Mimulus gemmiparus), respectively.

A wood lily in Jefferson County.

Rare plant and animal records from the original 1992-1993 survey included 8 rare animals, 10 rare plants and 16 rare plant communities. At the conclusion of the 2010-2011 survey there are 35 rare or imperiled plant species, 11 rare or imperiled animal species, 1 fungus, and 29 wetland and upland plant communities of concern now documented in Jefferson County. During this survey, two plants and one fungus were documented that are State records. They are the only known locations in the State for these elements, the openfield sedge (Carex conoidea) from the Turkey Creek at Aspen Park PCA (B4), the hybrid twinpod (Physaria x1) from the Ken Caryl Hogbacks PCA (B2), and a new subspecies of an earthstar fungus (Mycenastrum corium ssp. ferrugineum) from the Prospect Park PCA (B2). Both the twinpod and the earthstar are new species. A total of four federally listed threatened species (two plants and two animals): the Pawnee montane skipper (Hesperia leonardus montanus), Preble’s meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei), Ute ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes diluvialis), and Colorado butterfly plant (Oenothera coloradensis ssp. coloradensis) were observed during the survey. The Oenothera coloradensis ssp. coloradensis site is a new occurrence and was reported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to CNHP. The other three species were already known to occur in the County.

To view the full report, click here.

La Plata County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetland and Riparian Areas in La Plata County, 2004

Peggy Lyon, Janis Huggins, Denise Culver and Maggie March

Field surveys began in June 2003 and continued through September 2003. High quality examples of wetlands and riparian areas and those supporting populations of rare wetland-dependent species were given highest priority. Results of the wetland and riparian survey confirm that La Plata County contains areas with high biological significance and a diverse array of wetlands that support a wide variety of plants, animals, and plant associations. At least 32 major wetland/riparian plant communities, 9 plants, one bird, two fish from CNHP's Tracking List of plants, animals, and plant communities are known to occur in, or are associated with, wetlands in La Plata County. Thirty-four wetland and riparian sites of biodiversity significance are profiled in this report as Potential Conservation Areas (PCAs). These PCAs represent the best examples of wetland and riparian communities observed on the private and public lands visited.

To view the full report, click here.

Riparian area dominated by sub-alpine fir. Riparian area dominated by sub-alpine fir.

Survey of Critical Biological Resources in La Plata County, 2004

Peggy Lyon, Janis Huggins, Joseph Lucht, Denise Culver, Maggie March and Julia Hanson

CNHP began work in the spring of 2003, by compiling existing data and selecting areas to be inventoried during the field season. Field was completed from mid-June through September 2003. One hundred thirty new or updated occurences of plants, animals and natural communities were documented and evaluated, leading to the identification of 68 Potential Conservation Areas (PCAs).

To view the full report, click here.

A landscape in La Plata County.

Larimer County (Top)

Survey of Critical Biological Resources Larimer County, Colorado

Georgia Doyle

In 2004, Larimer County and the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland (the “Partners”) requested that the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) survey for critical biological resources of Larimer County. This project was to supplement a biological survey conducted by CNHP in 1996. As in 1996, the goal of the project was to systematically identify the locations of rare species and significant natural plant communities in Larimer County, and to identify and prioritize areas of critical habitat (potential conservations areas) for these species and communities. Additional goals of the 2004 project were to help assess the biological integrity on specific lands under consideration for conservation action, update data on existing protected open space properties, and provide data for development review purposes through the Larimer County Planning Department.

Field survey work began in April 2004 and continued through September 2004. Private lands within the eastern half of the county and specific properties identified by the Partners were given the highest priority for inventory. The focus on the eastern half of the county was requested by the Partners to correspond to high priority areas identified in their respective Master Plans. Though not a high priority area, some survey locations were selected in the Laramie River Valley in northwestern Larimer County. Locations selected by CNHP for the survey were identified by examining existing biological data for rare plant and animal species, and significant plant communities (collectively called “elements”) from CNHP’s database and accumulating additional existing information on these elements. Areas that were expected to contain significant elements were delineated as “Targeted Inventory Areas” (TIAs). These areas were prioritized for inventory based on the relative rarity of the elements expected to be found there and the area’s ability to maintain viable populations of those elements. Additional TIAs were identified by the Partners. Extensive field surveys were conducted within the TIAs, and areas found to contain significant elements were delineated as “Potential Conservation Areas” (PCAs).

To view the full report, click here.

Landscape in Larimer County.

Results of the survey confirm that there are many areas with high biological significance in Larimer County. There are several extremely rare plants and animals that depend on these areas for survival. All together, 71 rare or imperiled plant species, 48 rare or imperiled animal species (24 vertebrate and 24 invertebrate), and 94 plant communities of concern have been documented in Larimer County. Natural history summaries for many of these plants and animals are presented in the final section of this report. The CNHP database currently houses more than 680 element occurrence records (EORs) within Larimer County. As part of this project, 98 new EORs were created and 74 EORs were updated.


Significant Plant, Animal, and Wetland Resources of Larimer County and their Conservation, 1996

Kettler et al.

The primary goal of this project was to identify locations in Larimer County with natural heritage significance. The wetland and riparian survey portion documented several highly function and biologically significant wetlands. The Lake Pasture PCA contains an unusual and likely globally imperiled wetland. The site supports several wetland plant communities in excellent to good condition. The site is now under a conservation easement due in part to this project.

Landscape in Larimer County.

Mesa County (Top)

Survey of Critical Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Mesa County, 2002

Joe Rocchio, Georgia Doyle, Peggy Lyon and Denise Culver

Wetland survey documented 32 sites of biodiversity significance. Two were deemed irreplaceable or with outstanding biodiversity significance (B1) and 12 as very high biodiversity significance. The B1 sites included several sections of the Colorado River with good occurrences of Rio Grande cottonwood/skunkbush (Populus deltoides ssp. wislizeni/ Rhus trilobata) a globally imperiled riparian plant community (G2S2).

To view the full report, click here.

Mesa County.

Montrose & Ouray Counties (Top)

A Natural Heritage Assessment of Wetlands and Riparian Areas in the Uncompahgre River Basin (Eastern Montrose and Ouray Counties), 1999

Thomas Stephens, Denise Culver, Jennifer Zoerner and Peggy Lyon

The Uncompahgre River Basin contains a diverse array of wetlands that support a wide variety of wetland dependent plants, animals, and plant communities. Several Potential Conservation Areas along the Uncompahgre River support globally rare riparian plant communities in excellent to good condition. Ironton Park, in Ouray County, contains an iron fen, a unique wetland type that has a low pH, much like a bog in the boreal parts of North America.

To view the full report, click here.

Uncompahgre River Survey.

Park County (Top)

Park County Inventory of Critical Biological Resources, 2001

Susan Spackman, Denise Culver, and John Sanderson

The primary goal of this project was to identify the locations in Park County with natural heritage significance (places where rare or imperiled plants, animals, or plant communities have been documented). These locations were identified by 1) examining existing biological data, 2) accumulating additional information from other sources on rare or imperiled plant species, animal species, and significant plant communities (collectively called elements), and 3) conducting field surveys during the summer of 2000.

To view the full report, click here.

Park County, 2001

Extreme Rich Fens of South Park, Colorado: Their Distribution, Identification, and Natural Heritage Significance, 1996

John Sanderson and Margaret March

The report design provides a guide to extreme rich fens for field personnel unfamiliar with this unique Colorado wetland type. Species and plant community descriptions are included. Each fen is described with water quality data, aerial photos and diagnostic characteristics. Thirteen vascular plants and one moss are associated with extreme rich fens are featured.

To view the full report, click here.

Wahl Ranch, in Park County. Wahl Ranch, in Park County.

Pueblo County (Top)

Survey of Critical Biological Resources of Pueblo County, 2003

Susan Spackman Panjabi, John Sovell, Georgia Doyle, Denise Culver and Lee Grunau

Field surveys were conducted September through November of 2001 and May through November 2002. Results of the survey confirm that Pueblo County contains areas with high biological significance that support a wide variety of plants, animals, and plant communities. At least 27 plant communities, 18 plants, and 22 animals (4 mammal, 6 bird, 3 fish, 3 reptiles, 1 amphibian, and 5 invertebrate species) from the CNHP list of rare and imperiled plants, animals, and plant communities are known to occur in Pueblo County.

To view the full report, click here.

Pueblo County Landscape.

Survey of Critical Wetlands and Riparian Areas in El Paso and Pueblo Counties, 2001

Joe Rocchio, Denise Culver, Steve Kettler and Robert Schorr

One of the most biologically significant wetland sites in Pueblo County is Chico Basin. It is an extensive Great Plains wetland and riparian complex that includes several globally rare natural communities and several globally secure but locally significant natural communities that are in fair to good condition. The Plains leopard frogs (Rana blairi) (G5 S3) have been observed in the seep communities and the Arkansas Darter (Etheostoma cragini) (G3 S2) have been documented in Chico Creek. Black Squirrel Creek is a large mosaic of wetland communities that support a population of Arkansas Darter as well as Northern Leopard Frogs (Rana pipiens).

To view the full report, click here.

A playa in Pueblo County. A playa in Pueblo County.

Rio Blanco County (Top)

Survey of Critical Biological Resources in Rio Blanco County, 2008

Denise Culver, Peggy Lyon and Janis Huggins

In 2006, CNHP received unanimous approval from the Rio Blanco County Commissioners to submit a planning grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado. The award was received in December 2006, and was coupled with a wetland grant and BLM funds to survey the County for the most critical biological resources, thus leveraging staff and resources for both projects. We concentrated on private lands, and were successful in obtaining permission to survey from all but one of the major oil and gas companies and several large ranches. CNHP documented several new occurrences of the Dudley Bluffs Bladderpod (Lesquerella congesta, G1S1 LT) and the Piceance Twinpod (Physaria obcordata, G1G2S1S2 LT), and updated many of the known occurrences. Several of the new occurrences fell within the predicted habitat derived from the potential distribution models developed for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Another outcome of the survey was the documentation of new occurrences for several plants that were previously thought to be rare, enabling us to lower their rarity rank. These included willow hawthorn (Crataegus saligna), narrow-stem gilia (Gilia stenothyrsa), and Barneby’s thistle (Cirsium barnebyi).

Cathedral Bluffs in Rio Blanco County Cathedral Bluffs in Rio Blanco County.

The survey results highlight the importance of Rio Blanco County for rare plant conservation in Colorado. The project identified a total of 28 Potential Conservation Areas: one Outstanding Biodiversity Significance (B1), six Very High Biodiversity Significance (B2) and 21 High Biodiversity Significance (B3). These sites provide a prioritized list of areas in the County noted for important biological resources to be considered for protection of globally rare plants, wetlands, or for open space and wildlife habitat.

To view the full report, click here.

Rio Grande & Conejos Counties (Top)

A Natural Heritage Inventory and Assessment of Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Rio Grande and Conejos Counties, 2000

Joe Rocchio, Denise Culver, Steve Kettler and Robert Schorr

Nineteen wetland and riparian sites of biodiversity significance were documented during this survey. Spring Creek at Greenie Mountain (B2) supports good examples of rare wetland-dependent plant species, plant communities, small mammals and waterbirds. The Alamosa River at Government Park (B2) supports several good examples of globally vulnerable plant communities.

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Cleome multicaulis. Cleome multicaulis.

Routt County (Top)

A Natural Heritage Assessment of Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Routt County, Colorado, 1996

Denise Culver and John Sanderson

The objective of this project was to survey biologically significant wetland and riparian areas in Routt County. The results demonstrate a diverse array of wetlands with support rare or sensitive plants and animals. Four Potential Conservation Areas of very high biodiversity significance (B2) were documented. Elk River--major tributary of the Yampa River, Pleasant Valley—private lands that now have a conservation easement protecting a large segment of the Yampa River, Steamboat Lake—a state owned property with a large, intact, globally imperiled willow carr, and the Yampa River at Hayden and Morgan Bottoms PCA which supports a globally imperiled riparian plant community.

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Pleasent Valley, in Routt County. Pleasent Valley, in Routt County.

Saguache County (Top)

A Natural Heritage Assessment of Wetlands and Riparian Areas in the Closed Basin (Saguache County), Colorado, 1998

John Sanderson and Daniel A. Sarr

Results from this wetland and riparian survey confirm that this portion of the San Luis Valley contains highly functioning wetlands that support rare plants and plant communities. Specifically Russell Lakes (B2) contains one of the largest known populations of the slender spiderflower (Cleome multicaulis) (G2G3). The San Luis Lakes (B2) contains numerous wetland-dependent plant communities, plants and animals.

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Big Springs sand dunes in Saguache County.

San Juan County (Top)

San Juan County Biological Assessment, 2003

Peggy Lyon, Denise Culver, Maggie March, Lauren Hall

The wetland survey documented several iron fens, an unique type of fen with low pH and high conductivity wetlands that support Sphagnum. Additional high elevation alpine wetlands with large occurrences of wet meadows dominated by alpine sedges and cottongrass were observed.

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The South Fork of Mineral Creek in San Juan County. The South Fork of Mineral Creek in San Juan County.

Summit County (Top)

A Natural Heritage Assessment of Wetlands and Riparian Areas in Summit County, Colorado, 1997

Denise Culver John Sanderson

This project was conducted as part of a comprehensive survey for Summit County’s critical biological resources. Results include documentation of several Potential Conservation Areas of outstanding and very high biodiversity significance. The Blue Lakes PCA (B1) supports Weber whitlow-grass (Draba weberii), globally rare (G1) mustard, that was only known from this site. It also contains Porter’s feathergrass (Ptilagrostis porter) a globally vulnerable(G3) grass known only from Colorado. The Cucumber Gulch PCA is a B2 site that is at the base of Breckenridge ski area. It is one of the best known locations of a breeding population of the globally imperiled boreal or western toad (Bufo boreas boreas).

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Cucumber Gulch in Summit County.

Teller County (Top)

Survey of Critical Biological Resources in Teller County 2011

Denise Culver

In 2010, Teller County contracted with Colorado State University and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) to survey for critical biological resources in Teller County with funding provided by Teller County, Great Outdoors Colorado, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, Wetland Program Grants, Bureau of Land Management, and the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. The purpose of this project was to provide a scientific data resource for managers, planners, and the citizens of Teller County for conducting proactive landscape planning. The goal of the project was to systematically identify the locations of rare species and significant habitats. The landscape of Teller County is characteristic of Colorado. Montane grasslands and ponderosa pine woodlands outline the hillsides. Steep, rugged, and narrow canyons, high peaks, and hoodoo-like monoliths are interspersed with the undulating green lines of willow shrublands in the valley bottoms.

A landscape in Teller County.

CNHP identified 51 Potential Conservation Areas (PCAs) in Teller County. These PCAs represent the best examples of targeted species and plant communities and their ecological processes observed on the private and public lands that were visited. This project’s significant species findings include: several new sub occurrences documented for one of the world’s rarest plants, Pikes Peak spring parsley (Oreoxis humilus) (G1S1), the best known occurrence of the montane population of the Gunnison Prairie Dog (Cynomys gunnisoni) (G5S5), re-discovery of a historical occurrence of the spiny-spored quillwort (Isoetes setacea ssp. muricata) (G5? T5?S2) not seen since 1902, and several new locations of fens, a type of peatland that is groundwater fed and has accumulated at least 16 inches of organic soil or peat.

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Southeastern Colorado (Top)

Survey of Critical Biological Resources, Southeast Colorado 2007

Joe Stevens, Kelsey Forrest, Jodie Bell, Renée Rondeau, John Sovell, Jeremy Siemers, Jill Handwerk, Chris Gaughan, Brad Lambert, Dina Clark , RMBO, Larval Fish Lab

In southeast Colorado, the Purgatory River has cut an intricate network of deep sandstone canyons into the expansive shortgrass prairie. This unique and understudied area includes Colorado’s largest remaining expanses of shortgrass prairie as well as the most extensive juniper woodland-savanna in the western Great Plains. The canyon complex itself is also the largest such system in the ecoregion. The area has recently received unprecedented attention due to the proposed expansion of the Department of Defense Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS). The study area for the survey included over 2 million acres of land surrounding PCMS, much of which is privately owned ranch land. Working directly with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Great Outdoors Colorado, and other funders, we conducted inventory on approximately 800,000 acres of this diverse area in order to document the rare plants, animals, and natural communities for which these ranches provide vital habitat.

Purgatory canyon in southeastern Colorado Purgatory canyon in southeastern Colorado.

The number of Element Occurrences we collected on the surveyed ranches (120 animal, 71 plant, and 8 natural community occurrence locations) confirms that the Southeast Colorado project area is biologically diverse and supports a high quality and well functioning ecosystem. Among the unexpected and exciting observations made during the inventory are occurrences of the James’ penstemon (Penstemon jamesii), a species not observed from the area since the 1940’s; numerous occurrences for the wheel milkweed (Asclepias uncialis ssp. uncialis), occurring in small colonies scattered along the eastern edge of the southern Rocky Mountains; many new locations of the triploid checkered whiptail (Cnemidophorus neotesselatus), a state species of special concern; as well as many others.

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