Volunteers planting and restoring a section of Rock Creek 

Plant Ecology

volunteers gathering seed

Boulder County is home to over 1,500 species of plants, many of which are on open space. The Plant Ecology program is responsible for protecting these native plant communities that are the backbone of our ecosystems. Invasive weeds, development, and growing recreational use are increasingly threatening these native plant communities and the wildlife that depend on them. Boulder County is dedicated to conserving and managing these native plant communities.


  • Inventory open space for significant and unique native plant communities
  • Protect significant and unique native plant communities, including rare plant sites, wetlands, riparian areas, and other important stands of vegetation
  • Help design management plans and trail corridors to minimize impact to significant plant communities
  • volunteers planting a treeMaintain native plant communities through a variety of management techniques including ecological restoration, prescribed burning, and weed control
  • Restore open space that has been disturbed by human impacts such as trails, roads, mining, overgrazing, and forest thinning projects
  • Restore significant native plant communities such as wetlands and riparian corridors

Current Management Activities and Highlights

  • Restoration - Restore degraded areas in hopes of increasing biodiversity and creating habitat. Restoration areas include grasslands, wetlands, and riparian areas, as well as old roadbeds, trails, and trailhead areas. Projects can include earthwork and erosion control devices, planting of trees, shrubs, grasses, and/or forbs, and seeding with native seed. volunteers planting trees
  • Vegetation Mapping - Use a hierarchical vegetation mapping system that uses plant dominance and the physical structure of the plants to define communities or create groupings in a spatial context. In 2009, mapped approximately 3,800 acres.
  • Project Planning - Restoration projects require months or years of large-scale planning and design.
  • Increasing Native Seed - Native seed plays a vital role in the restoration of open space and staff strives to use the most native volunteer collecting native seedvariety of seed possible. Volunteers and staff collect seed from native grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees. The seed is cleaned and dried, and can be used directly in restoration areas or sent to the seed increase program.
  • Monitoring - Staff and volunteers monitor vegetation on open space properties to ensure the health of the habitat over a long timeframe.
  • Cooperation - Partnering with Youth Corps, Boulder Flycasters Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Colorado Department of Transportation, and Wildlands Restoration Volunteers to complete projects

What You Can Do

  • Leave plants where you find them. The county does not allow collection of plants for any purpose. 
  • Volunteer for a native seed collection or restoration event.
  • Learn about weeds and how you can prevent spreading them.

Annual Report

Partnering Agencies


Parks & Open Space
Claire DeLeo