Thursday, September 23, 2010

Site profile: Big Creek Lakes, Jackson County

B2: Very High Biodiversity Significance

Big Creek Lakes

Big Creek Lakes was visited as part of the North Platte Watershed inventory in 2009. The area lies on the east flank of the Park Range, and encompasses the Big Creek Lakes as well as the North Fork of the North Platte River and its tributaries in the area. Here, extensive deposits of glacial drift from the Pinedale and Bull Lake glaciations shroud the foothills of the Park Range.

This large site includes an unusually dense concentration of glacial kettle ponds and associated wetlands. Kettle ponds are formed by the melting of stranded blocks of ice left behind by retreating glaciers. The Big Creek Lakes area is one of the most extensive kettle pond areas in Colorado. Open water areas of kettle ponds are often dominated by water lilies (Nuphar lutea ssp. polysepala), water smartweed, (Persicaria amphibia), pondweed (Potamogeton natans), buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), and other species, while margins may have extensive swaths of sedge dominated meadows and floating mats.

Menyanthes trifoliata
Menyanthes trifoliata (buckbean) showing off its pretty flowers.

a quaking fen
A still picture doesn't really get at the essence of a quaking fen. Go watch the video.

This site holds documented occurrences of three rare amphibians (wood frog, northern leopard frog, and boreal toad), and a number of state rare plants, including slender cottongrass (Eriophorum gracile, G5/S2), bristly stalk sedge (Carex leptalea, G5/S1), livid sedge (Carex livida, G5/S1), roundleaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia, G5/S2), lesser bladderwort (Utricularia minor, G5/S2), mud sedge (Carex limosa, G5/S2), slender sedge (Carex lasiocarpa, G5/S1), and marsh cinquefoil (Comarum palustre, G5/S1S2).

Comarum palustre
Comarum palustre, the marsh cinquefoil

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