by Brad Lambert
The Treasure Fire that burned approximately 400 acres just east of Leadville this past summer came within a half mile of the only known boreal toad breeding site in Lake County. The boreal toad is a state endangered species with a patchy distribution throughout the central mountains of Colorado. The Birdseye Gulch population is monitored by CNHP biologists who conduct yearly visits as part of a project funded by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The fire started on June 24th and was headed up the gulch towards the breeding pond. Fortunately the fire changed directions and missed the breeding pond. The fire was contained by July 2nd. USFS biologist Jeni Windorski of the Leadville Ranger District was able to work with firefighters in protecting the breeding site. The toads were probably not impacted much as the riparian area was spared. CNHP resumed monitoring in August and documented the successful metamorphosis of the tadpoles in early September.