Conservation and recovery plans ensure that naturally occurring ecosystems and their native species populations continue to exist and flourish in Boulder County. These plans are intended to help private landowners and land managers make balanced management decisions.
Species Conservation & Recovery Plans
||The Abert’s squirrel (Sciurus aberti) is a large tree squirrel with a long, full tail. They promote forest health by dispersing spores of underground fungi that facilitate water and nutrient uptake by the trees and, therefore, increase seedling survival and enhance forest regeneration and growth.|
|Antelope Bitterbrush Complex
||The Antelope Bitterbrush Complex (Purshia tridentata) includes two rare shrubland communities found only in Colorado, including in the foothills of Boulder County. The two distinct vegetation communities covered in this plan are: the Antelope Bitterbrush / Mountain Muhly Shrubland and the Antelope Bitterbrush / Prairie Sagewort / Needle-and-Thread Shrubland. They have been designated as either imperiled or critically imperiled and are threatened by continued habitat degradation resulting from development, climate change, overgrazing, and the spread of invasive species. While these communities are known to tolerate and even benefit from low intensity, periodic fires, they are very susceptible to moderate to severe fires, resulting in high mortality with little to no recovery.|
||Bell’s twinpod (Physaria bellii) is a rare perennial mustard endemic to Colorado and found only in Boulder, Larimer, and Jefferson counties. It is imperiled both globally and at the state level. It is an edaphic endemic plant, meaning its distribution is limited to specific soil types. Bell’s twinpod is found only in exposed limestones and shales of the Niobrara and Pierre formations in the Front Range where the rock has been exposed by road cuts, or along natural outcrops such as ridge crests. This also means that populations of Bell’s twinpod cannot be translocated if its current habitat becomes degraded or eliminated due to any one of its current threats. Threats include invasive species and habitat loss and fragmentation via development and limestone mining.|
||The bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) is a conifer most often found at higher elevations on ridges and mountain tops. Because of its ability to survive in the sub-alpine and alpine environments, it is often referred to as a high-elevation pine. Bristlecones are ecologically important and provide valuable ecosystem services, such as soil stabilization, snow retention, controlled water runoff, and high elevation biodiversity.|
||The limber pine (Pinus flexilis) is a long lived, five-needle white pine widely distributed in western North America. It is a very minor forest component below 8,000’ and is usually restricted to very dry and windy sites. It is more common above 8,000.’ While not economically important, limber pine serves many functional roles in the ecosystem including soil stabilization, snow retention, controlled water runoff, and high elevation biodiversity.|
||The long-legged myotis (Myotis volans) is a brown, relatively nondescript bat. It is often confused with little brown bats but can be distinguished by its keeled calcar. It roosts in trees, rock crevices, and buildings. It hibernates in caves and mines. There is only one maternity roost known for Boulder County.|
|Needle & Thread Complex
||The Needle-and-Thread Complex (Hesperostipa comata) represents two native, rare grassland communities present in Boulder County. Two distinct vegetation communities are covered in this plan: the Needle-and-Thread – Blue Grama – Threadleaf Sedge Northern Grassland, and the Needle-and-Thread Colorado Front Range Grassland. The latter community is known only to the Colorado Front Range. Needle-and-thread grass is a dominant or codominant perennial species in these plant communities with blue grama and threadleaf sedge codominant in some cases. Both communities are found at lower elevations along the eastern slope but have largely been eliminated through agriculture and urban sprawl. Climate change, invasive species, heavy grazing pressures, and an altered fire regime all threaten the health of these communities.|
|Ute Ladies’-Tresses Orchid
||The Ute ladies’-tresses orchid (Spiranthes diluvialis) is a rare, long-lived perennial orchid found throughout the interior west in riparian and wetland habitats. It is considered globally imperiled and critically imperiled in Colorado and it is only one of two federally listed threatened species known in Boulder County (the other being the Colorado butterfly plant). In Boulder County, they are only known to occur in lower elevations in the Front Range in flat areas with a high water table, in or near wetlands, ditches, and irrigated meadows. Its inflorescence grows in a loose, spiraling spike with white flowers and has a stout appearance, the flowers separating from the inflorescence at a 90-degree angle. The Ute ladies’-tresses orchid is often mistaken for Hooded ladies’-tresses.|
The Boulder County Comprehensive Plan (BCCP) was first drafted in 1978 and has undergone several updates since. It contains several separate elements outlining bigger picture goals. The BCCP is very progressive and all-encompassing in its scope, and its main philosophies are:
- Growth channeled to municipalities
- Agricultural lands protection
- Preservation of environmental resources
Starting in 2011, County Open Space and Community Planning and Permitting staff were tasked with updating the Environmental Resources Element (ERE) of the BCCP. This was a big undertaking and involved significant professional and public input. The goals, policies, and maps of the ERE were updated and final adoption occurred in 2014.
During the extensive public update process, the inclusion of specifically focused language outlining the county’s commitment to steward protection of ecosystems occurred. The final language states “Acknowledging our responsibility to ensure that naturally occurring ecosystems and their native species populations continue to exist and flourish in Boulder County, the county will develop conservation and recovery plans for priority Species of Special Concern.”
Staff continue to develop these Species Conservation and Recovery Plans (SCRP). These plans are intended for private landowners, the public, and internal staff, working toward balanced management decisions.