The Adopt-a-Rare Plant Program (ARP), was revived last year as a collaborative effort between the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Colorado Native Plant Society after a several-year hiatus. The program was revived in order to update records of the increasing numbers of rare plant populations that had become “historic”, meaning that they have not been observed in over 20 years. In addition, these plant occurrences, which were last seen in the mid-1980s were documented before GPS was widely-available, so their locations were not precisely mapped.
When it comes to imperiled species in Colorado, 75% are plants. CNHP tracks more than 500 plant species. With limited people and financial resources to update records, the ARP program is designed to increase the impact that volunteers can have on conserving our rarest plants. So last year CNHP and the Botanic Gardens trained more than 30 new volunteers to help rediscover lost populations. During the field season these volunteers spent over 325 hours scouring the countryside. They visited 17 species at 25 sites and relocated 15 historical occurrences.
|Astragalus detritalis (debris milkvetch) is a S2-G3 plant found in just a couple of counties in Colorado and Wyoming. Photo by ARP volunteer Larry Allison.|
The program was such a success that additional trainings were held this spring. The first was held in February at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and the second was just completed in April at the Yampa River Botanical Gardens in Steamboat Springs. We now have over 60 citizen scientists trained and ready to volunteer their time to find rare plants in Colorado.
|Ipomopsis globularis (globe gilia) is a S2-G2 plant found only in Colorado. Photo by ARP volunteer Suzanne Wuerthele.|
|Ipomosis globularis habitat. Photo by ARP volunteer Suzanne Wuerthele.|
If you’d like to participate in the program, we need help entering the data from the 2011 visits into our database. Contact CNHP Botanist Jill Handwerk for more information.