Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Discussing Bat Conservation and Jumping Mouse Habitat Restoration at Western State Colorado University

In November, Rob Schorr visited with the student chapter of The Wildlife Society at Western State Colorado University to talk about bat conservation. After driving to Gunnison, he met Dr. Pat Magee and his students and spent several hours talking about CNHP and some of the bat conservation projects CNHP is involved in. Of particular interest was student involvement in recruiting climbers to take part in the Climbers for Bat Conservation project. This project is a partnership between bat biologists and climbers to discover new roosting colonies of bats in rock crevices. While at WSCU, Rob also spoke with Dr. Thomas Grant’s master’s-level restoration ecology course about the challenges of doing habitat restoration for bats, and about the habitat restoration work he is conducting for Preble’s meadow jumping mice with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Douglas County Open Space.
Western State Colorado University on a chilly November afternoon.

Monday, December 12, 2016

46th Annual Symposium of the North American Society for Bat Research

In October, Rob Schorr attended the 46th Annual Symposium of the North American Society for Bat Research in San Antonio, Texas. During his time there, Rob presented a poster discussing the progress and data analysis from a project to monitor maternity colonies of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). He and Jeremy Siemers have been conducting a mark-recapture study of little brown bats at two roosts in the Yampa Valley. The intent of this project is to develop baseline estimates of survival, understand roost fidelity, and describe roost conditions for the little brown bat.
Rob manning his poster at the 46th NASBR meeting.
The Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo) was right across from the meeting venue.

Monday, November 7, 2016

An Intern's Adventures (and Ant Bites)

By Alyssa Meier, CNHP Siegele Intern

I spent this past summer with CNHP as an Siegele intern. I worked on various projects all over the state and even got to travel to Yellowstone. It was a wonderful experience full of some great adventures, amazing views, occasional sunburns, and plenty of bug bites (a few too many of those, if you ask me).

I began the summer at two separate BioBlitzes, one at Brown’s Canyon near Buena Vista and the second at Spring Valley near Rifle.
Spring Valley Ranch.
The next few weeks I spent completing surveys for Arapahoe County, weed monitoring at the United States Air Force Academy, and wetland surveys in Huerfano County. I even spent some time in Montrose surveying the rare plant Eriogonum pelinophilum.

Perhaps most exciting of all was my trip to Yellowstone National Park for the GLORIA project. We spent a week in the back country of the Shoshone Wilderness just outside of the park for vegetation monitoring on several of the peaks.

Overall, this summer was very exciting for me. I learned so much about nearly everything, ranging from plants to birds to surveying techniques. It was educational and fulfilling. I wouldn’t have traded this opportunity for anything.

Northern Bobwhite at North Kiowa Arapahoe County property. 
Columbine in Huerfano County. 
Basecamp beneath the peaks – Shoshone Wilderness.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Wetland Monitoring in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

One of CNHP’s Wetlands crew spent July collecting data at wetland sites in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado. The park and preserve is home to about 1,700 bison, and a large elk herd. The wetland monitoring data collected will be used to aid in planning and decision making as part of the Park’s ungulate management plan process. The wetland crew braved warm weather and abundant mosquitoes to collect vegetation, soil and ungulate use data, and install game cameras at over 20 sites.
The CNHP Wetlands crew and National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring employees after training in Great Sand Dunes National Park. 
Lexine Long and Erin Borgman setting up a vegetation monitoring plot in Great Sand Dunes National Park. 
When not in Great Sand Dunes National Park, the wetland crew also worked on a project surveying fen wetlands close to state highways for a project sponsored by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Fens are groundwater-fed wetlands with 40 or more centimeters of organic soil (often peat). Organic soil accumulates very slowly – at approximately 20cm in 1,000 years, so fens are an incredibly important wetland resource in Colorado. The crew got to spend their time working in the beautiful mountain passes of Colorado, and saw many interesting wetlands while collecting vegetation and soil data for the project.
Lexine Long collecting vegetation data in a fen in the San Juan mountains.
A fen wetland in the San Juan mountains. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Photographing Wing Venetation Patterns of Little Brown Bats

By Blaise Newman, CNHP Siegele Intern

Little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) are widespread across North America. They vary in color from reddish, brown, to golden with a wingspan of 8 to 11 inches and an average weight of less than half an ounce. In the summer, female little brown bats aggregate at sites called maternity roosts which can be found in buildings, caves, and other covered areas.

Unfortunately, the little brown bat is under attack across its range. White nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungus that disturbs the bat’s hibernation pattern wasting valuable energy needed to survive the winter. In eastern North America, the disease has killed millions of bats. The disease has yet to be detected in Colorado, but a recent detection in Washington state has scientists concerned. The Colorado Natural Heritage Program and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have started an ambitious project to monitor little brown bat maternity colonies in the Yampa Valley of Colorado. Obtaining baseline of data of bat survival and persistence prior to WNS is extremely valuable.

At two maternity sites, Jeremy Siemers and Rob Schorr are using passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags to monitor the adult female and juvenile bats. PIT tags are similar to radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips in your pets. PIT tags are unique identifiers that can help estimate mortality, understand behavior, and track population changes over time. However, one major concern for this marking technique is tag loss. For this reason, new methods of individual identification are being explored to work in conjunction with the PIT tags.

Wing venation is a promising identification tool. Similar to a fingerprint, wing venation is thought to be unique to each individual bat. After the bats were captured and tagged, I spread the wings of captured bats over a light board to show the distinct venation patterns. I then used a mounted camera to document the bat wing venation to be analyzed and cataloged later. Hopefully, future studies will be able to identify individual bats using both PIT tag and wing venation IDs.

Blaise Newman, CNHP Siegele Intern, photographs a little brown bat's wing venation pattern. This technique is fairly new, and holds promise as a way to identify individual bats.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Corwin Brown, CNHP Collaborator in Southeast Colorado, Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Corwin Brown, Southeast Colorado rancher and founding member of the Colorado Cattleman's Agricultural Land Trust, has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Palmer Land Trust. Corwin was instrumental in helping CNHP secure funding and connect with ranchers in order to conduct biological surveys in Southeast Colorado. These studies supported the identification of the JE Canyon Ranch as an area of outstanding biological diversity. JE Canyon Ranch, located near Branson, Colorado, was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 2015. Check out the video below to learn more about Corwin's legacy!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

CNHP Botanist Jill Handwerk Receives Award from Colorado Native Plant Society

Jill Handwerk, CNHP Botanist and our fearless Botany Team Leader, was presented with a well-deserved Special Merit Award from the Colorado Native Plant Society. The Society honored Jill's outstanding efforts as a former President and Vice President, and her work to protect rare native plants through the Rare Plant Symposium, Adopt a Rare Plant Program, and the Rare Plant Technical Committee.

At CNHP, Jill manages all of our rare plant data for Colorado, and leads survey and monitoring projects for rare plants with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Colorado Natural Areas Program. Jill is the perfect example of the difference one person can make in the protection and conservation of Colorado's native plants. Congratulations, Jill!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Beer, Brats, and Bats: CNHP Partners with the Yampa Valley Land Trust and the Wildlife Society

In August, the Central Mountains and Plains section of the Wildlife Society (CMPS) hosted its annual meeting in Steamboat Springs. The Colorado Natural Heritage Program and The Yampa Valley Land Trust welcomed attendees of the CMPS Society Annual Conference for a relaxing evening of food, beer, and bat conversations. Guests got to see the bat conservation work that is being done at the Rehder Ranch. Here is a link to an article on the fieldtrip produced by The Yampa Valley Land Trust. CMPS is a section of the international association of wildlife biologists called The Wildlife Society. It includes wildlife biologists from Colorado and many of the surrounding states.

Jeremy Siemers (left) and Rob Schorr (right) sampling bats at the Rehder Ranch outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Adventures in Wetland Ecology

by Sarah Marshall

As the first few aspen leaves turned gold, and a fresh dusting of snow fell on the high peaks along the Continental Divide, our National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA) field crew wrapped up 3 months of field sampling in 28 Colorado wetlands. Our work was part of a long-term EPA study to evaluate the ecological condition of wetlands and other aquatic resources across the United States, and included evaluating the plant community, hydrology, soils, water quality, and stressors for each site we visited. Beginning in the playas of the Great Plains, and ending in snowmelt and groundwater-fed fens and beaver ponds in the mountains, we traveled over 5,000 miles to access study sites. Some of our more adventurous sites involved backpacking to high-elevation meadows in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass and Holy Cross wilderness areas, bison herds and a rattlesnake in our vegetation plots in the San Luis Valley, and a few surprise moose hunkered down in riparian willow thickets.  When we set out to sample our last site for the summer field season, a rough mountain 4WD road led us to a lovely willow carr… covered with several inches of fresh snow.

After visiting so many different types of wetlands around the state, I have a renewed commitment to better understand and protect Colorado’s wetlands, and all of the processes that sustain them--from beavers constructing dams to elevate the local water table to moose and elk creating gaps in the willow canopy for the herbaceous understory to thrive. It was also rewarding to meet ranchers, scientists, and other land managers who play an active role in conserving Colorado’s wetlands. With threats ranging from rising water temperatures and earlier snowmelt associated with climate change to groundwater withdrawals and invasive weeds, preserving the diverse assemblages of native plants and animals that inhabit Colorado wetlands requires partnerships across public and private land, and thinking about wetlands as part of the larger landscape. I hope that our work this summer, and all of the work done by the CNHP wetlands team, continues to support and inform wetland conservation and management decisions in Colorado, and improve our collective understanding of these remarkable ecosystems!

A moose leaps out of a fen near Creede, Colorado on the Rio Grande National Forest. 
Scott Guinn and Sarah Marshall still smiling as the mosquitoes swarm in the Little Grizzly Creek drainage in Jackson County, Colorado.
KristiLee Halpin and Tyler Stratman set up a wetland plot in the Holy Cross Wilderness near Gold Dust Peak.
Sarah Marshall holds an impressive column of organic soil, known as peat, from a fen in the Routt National Forest near Livingston Park.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Colorado Rare Plant Symposium and 40th Native Plant Society Meeting: Sept 23-25, 2016

Mark your calendars! It's almost time for the Colorado Rare Plant Symposium and Native Plant Society Annual Meeting. This year, the event will be held in Boulder at the University of Colorado East Campus in the MacAllister Building. The Symposium will be held on Friday, Sept. 23. The Colorado Native Plant Society Annual Meeting will be held on Sat. and Sun., Sept 24 and 25. Join botanists and plant enthusiasts from around the state to learn about Colorado's rare and native plants. To register for the Symposium, click here. To register for the Annual Meeting, click here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Bioblitzes and Butterflies: An Intern's Summer

by Gary Olds, CNHP Siegele Intern

Salida, Rifle, Carbondale, Boulder, Arapahoe County, and even New Mexico are among the places I was able to take my summer adventures, through CNHP’s Siegele internship. I relished the opportunity to participate in three BioBlitzes at Browns Canyon National Monument, Spring Valley Ranch, and Rifle Ranch, with fellow interns and CNHP staff and partners. This is where I got my introduction to biological surveying, including plant and animal collection and identification. Following these events, I participated in the Boulder Butterfly Survey, spending several days completing transects in eighteen different Boulder County Open Spaces. Despite run-ins with barbed wire and stinging nettle, I thoroughly enjoyed catching butterflies and learning to identify several species. I also took part in surveys in Arapahoe County Open Spaces. My largest project this summer was with the GLORIA project, or Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments. After weeks of training and preparation, I spent an eight day trip with five others in the Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico. We established GLORIA sites on four different peaks, the tallest standing at 13,000 feet. I contributed by collecting soil samples and helping to measure out the plots. Amazing weather and breathtaking views made for a fast and memorable workweek. I am very appreciative of the work experience, mentorships, and friendships that CNHP has been able to provide for me this summer.

CNHP staff and partners survey for birds at Rifle Ranch during a bioblitz. This was the third bioblitz the interns participated in.

We completed 18 butterfly survey transects in open spaces in Boulder, Colorado. Each transect was located in a different open space, with ecosystems ranging from shortgrass/mid grass prairie, riparian, and ponderosa pine woodlands. The Flatirons can be seen in the background.

Woodhouse's toads were among the diverse wildlife we observed during biological surveys at West Bijou Open Space in Arapahoe County, Colorado. 

Geothermal activity heat a cave and old mine, providing a comfortable habitat for a population of Townsend's big-eared bats in central Colorado. This population is protected and monitoring through chipping (and chip-reading technology) and thermal camera recording.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Using Rock Climber Observations to Find Bat Roosts

On a hot summer day above the South St. Vrain River, zoologists Rob Schorr and Andrew Reed stare up at a 50 foot slab of rock that has been carved by glaciers and rivers and time.They arrived at this particular location by the goodwill of Colorado’s rock climbing community.As part of a project that Schorr, botanist Bernadette Kuhn, and human dimensions specialist Shawn Davis developed several years ago called Climbers for Bat Conservation, Schorr and Reed are visiting this specific location because climbers have reported hearing or seeing bats in the cracks above. Reed, a rock climber,led the effort to look in the cracks and flakes for bats, guano, or insect parts, while Schorr watched enviously from below. After three hours of searching manually and with an ultrasonic acoustic detector they were unable to find any bats along the climb, and they were unable to find any guano on the rock walls or below the cracks. Schorr found a few insect parts below the climb, but it was unclear if they were the remnants of feeding bats. Although they did not stumble upon a large roost of bats, they were glad to follow leads provided by the Climbers for Bat Conservation partners. The CBC group is hoping to receive more observations of bats by rock climbers following a recent presentation to the International Rock Climbing Research Association given by Kuhn in Telluride, Colorado.

Andrew Reed looking in cracks for bats along the climbing route Panic in the Grey Room.

Andrew Reed pointing out the cracks, flakes, and crevices where bats could roost.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Remember This Summer-An Intern's View of a Summer Working at CNHP

by Tyler Stratman, CNHP Siegele Intern

My summer life was much different this year than it has been in the past. To describe it quickly it was a summer of eight projects across Colorado in nine weeks; it was a summer of driving 4,100 miles; it was a summer of learning how to sample and identify plants; and most outstandingly, it was a summer of challenging and rewarding field work. Although working on multiple projects was confusing at times, I was able to see so much of the state of Colorado and work with multiple people. Working with CNHP has given me the tools and skills to perform vegetation analyses and sampling methods in my career for the rest of my life. This summer I worked with eight different vegetation monitoring techniques, and I am now able to recognize over 40 plant genera. I have grown an appreciation for the plant diversity around me and the role plant’s play in ecosystem function. Here are some photos that represent the amazing views I had this summer.

I had incredible mountain views.

I swam in water holes in southeast Colorado.

I hiked in red sandstone canyons

 I saw wildlife.

I saw the world from above.

I don’t want to make it seem like I was not working. In between each of these views it was tough, hot, cold, uncomfortable, or long hours, but it is a summer that I am so blessed to have been able to have. I will remember it forever.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Adventures in the Alpine!

By: Lydia Fahrenkrug and Gary Olds, CNHP Siegele Interns

Along with the New Mexico Heritage Program and the National Park Service, CNHP recently completed two important projects as a part of GLORIA. The Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments, GLORIA, is a project designed to monitor long-term changes in alpine tundra vegetation, soils, and temperatures. This global network assesses climate change impacts on the biological richness of the planet's high mountain ecosystems, by monitoring four summits in a target region. The peaks have similar geology, climate disturbance, and land-use history, leaving vegetation differences among the summits to be driven primarily by elevation (Kuhn et al. 2014). After initial implementation, target regions are repeat sampled at least every five years.
Gary Olds in Pecos Wilderness Area. Photo taken by Lydia Fahrenkrug.
The two target regions accomplished this summer include starting a GLORIA site in Pecos Wilderness Area, New Mexico (July 5-12) and repeat sampling in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (July 21-27). The trip began at Santa Barbara Trailhead, where the crew backpacked into No Fish Lake, the location of base camp all week. The crew consisted of Lydia Fahrenkrug, Dustin Gannon, Gary Olds, and Claire Tortorelli from CNHP, Hannah Burnham from New Mexico Heritage Program, and Brian Jacobs, a retired NPS botanist. Each day, they summited one of the four peaks, which were Chimayosos, West Chimayosos, North Truchas Peak and No Fish Peak to complete set-up and vegetation monitoring. With great weather and a hard working team, they were able to finish the project quickly and efficiently.
Botanists Hannah Burnham and Brian Jacobs surveying plant species in Pecos Wilderness Area.  Photo by Lydia Fahrenkrug.
The Yellowstone crew included Lydia Fahrenkrug, Alyssa Meier, Dustin Gannon, and Claire Tortorelli from CNHP, and Heidi Anderson and Monica Lomahukluh from the National Parks Service. They began in Shoshone National Forest and backpacked into their camping spot, which was on the border of Yellowstone National Park. Since this was a re-sample, all of the hardware was previously put in, allowing the crew to focus on the alpine vegetation. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful views and working together to complete this project, while wildflower season was in full swing.
Dustin Gannon measuring out for a plot in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Alyssa Meier.
These projects were successful thanks to funding from the Rocky Mountain Inventory and Monitoring Program of the National Park Service.

Kuhn, B., T. Talbot, and J. Stevens. 2013. Alpine vegetation composition, structure, and soils monitoring for Yellowstone National Park: 2011 Summary Report.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

CNHP Releases New Rare Plants by County Interactive Map

Check out CNHP's new interactive map for rare plants! The map displays the number of rare plant species in each Colorado county documented by CNHP and partner agencies, organizations, and individuals. Users can access pdf lists of rare plant species for each county by clicking a county, then clicking More Info on the pop up box. The plant lists contain species names, as well as conservation status, wetland and riparian dependent status, links to Rare Plant Guide profiles, and much more. The data used to create the map are from the CNHP Biotics 5 database.

The new CNHP Rare Plants by County Map displays the number of rare plant species documented in each Colorado County, according to the CNHP Biotics 5 database.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

CNHP Undergraduate Researcher Discovers New Relationship Between Rare Butterfly and Ants

Myrmecophily is a mouthful of a word that refers to positive interactions between ants and other species. Such relationships are well known among the ant and butterfly specialists of the world. CNHP undergraduate researcher Tristan Kubik is a bit of a prodigal ant expert, spending time as a high school student collecting and cataloging ants, and mapping ant colonies. Kubik teamed up with Rob Schorr, a CNHP zoologist, to assist Schorr in studying populations of the rare hops blue butterfly (Celastrina humulus). For his part, Kubik has focused on determining if myrmecophily plays a role in the hops blue butterfly life history. Kubik recently spent weeks monitoring eggs and larvae of the hops blue butterfly and has documented that ants tend larvae (see pictures below). Kubik has observed larger ants, such as carpenter ants, defending the larvae from predation. The caterpillars dissuade the ants from eating them by using pheromones and providing protein and sugar-rich secretions. This marks the first documentation that myrmecophily exists for hops blue butterflies and ants. It is theorized that ants provide defense for the larvae in exchange for the nutritional benefits from the nectar that the larva can excrete (mutualistic symbiosis). Alternately, some believe that the nectar is simply a calming agent that minimizes ant aggression (commensalism). Kubik and Schorr are excited about identifying what the advantages may be and how this discovery can play a role in butterfly conservation.

Tristan Kubik with a female hops blue butterfly.
Ant crawling on larvae.

Hops blue butterfly larva (Celastrina humulus) on a hops leaf. (Humulus neomexicanus).

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.
The Honorable Mention plaque for the 2016 Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards. 

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!