Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Remembering Dr. Sylvia "Tass" Kelso

by Denise Culver, CNHP Wetland Ecologist

Sylvia "Tass" Kelso, Professor Emeritus at Colorado College, passed away on June 8, 2016 after an 18-month struggle with pancreatic cancer.

Since 1987 she was a member of the faculty at Colorado College, teaching courses in botany, conservation, and evolutionary biology, among others, and was Curator of the Carter Herbarium (COCO). She was dedicated to sharing her enthusiasm and teaching about plants with students and with the public.

Awards and honors include the Colorado College Burlington Northern Award for Faculty Achievement in Teaching (1992); the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor at Colorado College (1992--1994); the Verner Z. Reed Professor of Natural Sciences endowed position (2004--2007); and she was recognized as Outstanding Volunteer by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program.

Tass’s botanical specialties included the systematics and reproductive biology of the Primulaceae, on which she authored numerous papers. She also studied and published papers on the arctic and alpine flora and its phytogeography, the floras of southeastern Colorado and the Pikes Peak region, edaphic endemism, grasslands, the influence of Quaternary environments on plant distributions, plant reproductive biology, and the continuing importance of floristic exploration. Her research on Primulaceae has resulted in most of her contributions, culminating most recently in treatments of Primula, Androsace, and Douglasia in Volume 8 of Flora of North America and Dodecatheon and Primula in the revision of the Jepson Manual of the flora of California.

Tass and her husband George Maentz have been wonderful supporters of CNHP for over 20 years. The “Bed and Breakfast on Mesa Road” in Colorado Springs is a favorite with staff. Several CNHP staff have been students of Tass over the years, so Tass’s legacy continues. On a personal note, one of my favorite memories is of Tass running through the short willows (Salix glauca) on the South slope of Pike’s Peak with her plant collection bag bouncing along her side!

Tass’s botanical expertise, intellect, and friendship will be greatly missed.

Tass Kelso (right) and Denise Culver (left) collecting cut-leaved groundsel (Senecio eremophilus) on the south slope of Pike's Peak. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CNHP and Colorado Department of Agriculture Recommend Best Management Practices for Managing Noxious Weeds near Rare Plant Populations

CNHP and the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Noxious Weed Program have created guidelines for managing noxious weeds in the vicinity of rare plants. Geared towards such stakeholders as natural resource and land managers and decision makers, the document recommends best management practices (BMP) for effective weed control while minimizing harm to nearby rare plant populations. Rare plants are threatened not only by displacement by noxious weeds, but also by unintended negative impacts through certain weed management practices. Native plant species designated as G1 or G2 are threatened by these activities due to their restricted habitat; this habitat may be a target project area for implementing a BMP. Recommended BMPs are provided for site assessment, harm avoidance, and weed management techniques to outline where and how these G1 and G2 rare species are to be protected. The document is co-authored by Cecily Mui, former Noxious Weeds Specialist for Colorado Department of Agriculture, and Susan Spackman Panjabi, CNHP Botanist.

Grand Mesa penstemon (Penstemon mensarum) is a rare plant that is occasionally found near roadsides. The BMPs in the 2016 report provide guidelines on effectively managing roadside noxious weeds without harming rare plants.

Friday, June 24, 2016

CNHP and Partners Receive Honorable Mention for Climate Adaptation Leadership Award

CNHP was part of a team receiving an honorable mention in the 2016 Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards for its efforts to incorporate the consideration of climate change in Colorado’s 2016 State Wildlife Action Plan. The award was announced June 7 by the National Fish, Wildlife and Plant Climate Adaptation Strategy’s Joint Implementation Working Group.

Colorado’s latest State Wildlife Action plan now includes an assessment of how key habitat types could be impacted by a changing climate, and the collaborative effort that produced the analysis has received a national award. CNHP Conservation Planning team members Michelle Fink, Karin Decker, and Lee Grunau collaborated with Department of Interior North Central Climate Science Center and Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff in a series of workshops that evaluated potential future climate scenarios for a number of key wildlife habitats. Complete modeling and assessment results are also available as a separate report on the CNHP website.

Michelle Fink (CNHP), Marian Talbert (NCCSC), Andrea Ray (NOAA), Heather Yocum (NOAA), Eric Odell (CPW), and Ken Morgan (CPW) discuss habitat models during a workshop at the Resource for Advanced Modeling center at NCCSC.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Siegele Summer Internship Launched With Bioblitzes

By Lydia Fahrenkrug

In the past two weeks, CNHP launched its Siegele internship program by attending three Bioblitzes. The first of these was in the recently designated Browns Canyon National Monument in Chaffee County. The following week, we co-hosted Bioblitzes at the Spring Valley and Rifle Ranches in Garfield County. A BioBlitz is an intensive period of biological surveying to find, identify, and record all the species within a designated area.
Early morning birding by Delia Malone, Mary Harris, Maddie, Alyssa Meier, Lydia Fahrenkrug, and John Sovell (left to right) at Rifle Ranch Bioblitz, in Rifle, CO

At Browns Canyon, the six interns, Lydia Fahrenkrug, Alyssa Meier, Blaise Newman, Gary Olds, Tyler Stratman, and Brandi Thomas, along with Director Dave Anderson, Pam Smith, and Scott Kellman, had an amazing time surveying the diverse landscapes and using the opportunity to work together with many different organizations and professionals. Students gained hands-on experience in a variety of disciplines, such as small mammal trapping, plant identifying and collecting, birding, insect collecting, and bat surveying. It was exciting to collaborate with different professionals while students were introduced and helped to achieve the goals of a Bioblitz.
Entering Browns Canyon National Monument for a full day of surveying, Chaffee Co.
Pam Smith, CNHP Botanist (left), works with CNHP intern, Brandi Thomas, (right) to identify plant in Browns Canyon National Monument, Chaffee Co.

For the Spring Valley Bioblitz near Carbondale, students were introduced and assisted in data collection for a Modified Whittaker Plot and helped to implement a Picture Post, which allows citizen scientists to take pictures at 9 permanent orientations over time to support environmental monitoring. We learned about the climate monitoring site being installed by the Aspen Global Change Institute by Elise Osenga and Adam Korenblat. At the Rifle Ranch Bioblitz in Rifle, students explored a riparian area and they were surprised by the amount of species they found on this ranch property. Additionally, it was exciting to have interns from the Rocky Mountain Sustainability and Science Network (RMSSN) join CNHP and focus on pollinators at both of these ranches, and also to meet students and faculty from Colorado Mountain College who helped out at Spring Valley. At both ranches, we documented birds with the Roaring Fork Audubon Society, and learn about the ranches from the owners, John Powers and Jana Six. From the Bioblitzes, students learned valuable skills and gained important experience that will help leverage their field projects through the summer.
Implementation of Picture Post at Spring Valley Bioblitz, in Carbondale, CO by Adam Korenblat, Tyler Stratman, Blaize Newman, and David Anderson (left to right).

Friday, June 17, 2016

Remembering Jodie Bell

CNHP mourns the loss of longtime co-worker and friend, Jodie Bell, who passed away on April 10th after a courageous battle with neuroendocrine carcinoma. Jodie was the Ecology Data Manager at CNHP from 1999-2012, when she left to pursue her own yoga business. Although she was part of CNHP’s Ecology team, she had formal training in Wildlife Ecology from Texas A&M University, and had a soft spot for reptiles. Jodie was instrumental in keeping CNHP’s Biotics database up-to- date with the latest plant community associations and regularly reconciled Colorado’s data with the national database at NatureServe. She spent countless hours working with CNHP ecologists to document differing viewpoints on systems and associations, tracking these concepts over time, and identifying the best way to represent these complex entities in the database. Behind the scenes of many data records is the hard work and dedication of Jodie Bell. She enjoyed field work and participated in the Sand Creek zoological survey, La Plata County biological inventory, vegetation monitoring at Pueblo Chemical Depot, several baseline surveys, and more. In addition to her database and biology skills, she was a natural editor and fine-tuned CNHP reports with her sharp editing skills and candid critiques.

Jodie added a personal touch to her work and her laughter filled the halls of CNHP. She led the CNHP birthday fund to ensure every staff birthday was celebrated, and she cared for CNHP’s unofficial mascot Kris, an albino king snake with an attitude whose origin was the source of many tall tales. Her view of wildlife and wild-lands was filled with awe, wonder and an eagerness to learn. In addition to her passion for conservation, her personal passions included yoga and animal rescue and rehabilitation. In her memory, the cat adoption room at the Animal House rescue shelter will be dedicated to Jodie Bell. CNHP extends a heartfelt thanks to Jodie for her many years of service, her significant contributions to our program, and her unending commitment to biodiversity and conservation. We will miss her warm smile and curious nature. We send our deepest condolences to her family.
Jodie Bell on a private ranch in the Eastern Plains of Colorado in 2009. Photo by Denise Culver.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Happy Native Plant Appreciation Week!

Thanks to the Colorado Native Plant Society (CoNPS), June 10th-June 16th is now formally recognized by the state of Colorado as Native Plant Appreciation Week. The goal of Native Plant Appreciation Week is to recognize and celebrate the nearly 3,000 native plant species that are found in Colorado. The state contains 132 endemic plant species that are found only in Colorado. Additionally, a total of 521 of the state's native plant species are considered rare and are tracked by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. The observance coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Colorado Native Plant Society. Here are a few ways you can celebrate Native Plant Week in Colorado:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

COMaP Launches Interactive Map

COMaP is the most comprehensive map of protected lands in the state. CNHP is proud to announce the newly revised version of COMaP. The new COMaP, version 10, has significantly updated federal and state lands (which make up almost half of the state) and an additional 355,000 acres of lands conserved under easements, compared to version 9. It also contains interactive maps that can be used to explore and download data without GIS software.

The ongoing updates and services to this database will be supported with subscriptions. If you’re interested in a subscription, visit the COMaP website for more details. Consider subscribing for these benefits:
  • Access to the latest protected lands data through an online map
  • Ability to use the interactive map to view and identify protected lands, query the map and   download spreadsheets, overlay your own files (kml or shp) or add comments and draw polygons. This is especially useful for non-GIS users
  • Access to a suite of data files from the data download center
  • Ability to download the geodatabase and layer files to perform geospatial analysis, build your own custom maps, or serve COMaP map service from your website. This is especially useful for GIS users. 
The new website was built by CNHP with support from a Conservation Excellence grant from Great Outdoors Colorado. The Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts and CSU's Geospatial Centroid partnered with CNHP on the grant. More information can be found in the recent CSU Source article.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Snaketail Ale Brewed for Virginia Natural Heritage Program's 30th Anniversary

You might remember that a few years back CNHP developed a novel collaboration with Odell Brewing Company to conserve the hops blue butterfly (Celastrina humulus). The hops blue butterfly is a rare butterfly in Colorado whose host plant is wild hops (Humulus lupulus). The fruition of that collaboration was Celastrina Saison (pictured below), which produced a $1/bottle donation from Odell Brewing Company to fund studies of the hops blue butterfly.
  Our friend Jason Bulluck at the Virginia Natural Heritage Program (VNHP) liked the idea of partnering with breweries for conservation, and took the idea for Snaketail Ale to Triple Crossing Brewing Company in Richmond, VA, and they loved it! This beer celebrates the St. Croix snaketail, a rare dragonfly known from the Richmond area, and commemorates the VNHP’s 30th anniversary. Snaketail Ale is a heavily dry-hopped session ale that can be found on tap at Triple Crossing Brewery, Richmond, Virginia. Cold 32oz “crowler” cans of Snaketail Ale can be purchased at the brewery's tasting room. Raise a glass and toast to conservation!