Colorado Natural Area Designation celebrated at Staunton State Park
DENVER - Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) Staunton State Park celebrated the recent designation of portions of the park as a Colorado Natural Area during a midmorning ceremony, Sept. 18, 2015.
“The designations assist us in making sure that people who come to the park years from now will enjoy the same scenic views the public enjoys today,” said CPW’s Staunton State Park Manager, Zach Taylor, who described upcoming planned trails and facilities projects.
It also honors the wishes of the late Francis Staunton, who donated the majority of the park, and stipulated that 90% of the park remain undeveloped.
Denise Culver, Colorado Natural Heritage Program botanist and ecologist, who had been a part of the earliest plant surveys conducted at Staunton, expressed gratitude.
“To see the success in the past 10 years for the sake of rare plants, it really has come full circle” said Culver. “Congratulations to CPW, Department of Natural Resources and Colorado Natural Areas Program (CNAP) for making this happen.”
The Elk Falls parcel, owned by the Colorado State Land Board, covering 334 acre in Park County and the Black Mountain parcel, owned by CPW, covering 322 acres in Jefferson County are known for the endemic and globally imperiled Budding Monkeyflower (Mimulus gemmiparus), unique montane riparian woodlands, peregrine falcon nesting sites and precambrian granite exposures.
The designation is the result of collaborative efforts.
“This park is a great example of how different programs within CPW are able to collaborate, utilize the expertise of biologists and volunteers to catalog natural resources through rare plant and wildlife surveys, and then make decisions in a really comprehensive way so the park’s resources are not compromised,” said Jeff Thompson, CPW’s Resource Stewardship Program Coordinator.
The Resource Stewardship Program within CPW assists State Parks and CNAP in sustaining and improving significant natural resources while developing sustainable recreation opportunities.
“It’s a great place for promotion of natural resource education and scientific research,” added CNAP Coordinator Raquel Wertsbaugh. “Positive results from a pilot research project started at Staunton in 2011 has lead to conservation actions and a greater understanding of the rare Budding Monkeyflower, which could help keep the species off of the federal endangered species list.”
Staunton’s designation isn’t CNAP’s only success this year.
In addition to the natural areas at Staunton, another 82 acres of property located in Garfield County, was recently added to an approximately 1,000 acres already designated as a State Natural Area and owned by Occidental Petroleum, an energy company. Known as the Logan Wash Mine Natural Area, the addition builds upon an agreement started with Occidental almost 30 years ago, in 1987, to protect the Parachute penstemon, a federally threatened plant.
The protection continues today.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recognizing the long conservation partnership between Occidental and the State of Colorado, excluded the property from critical habitat for this species based upon their voluntary, cooperative agreement with the State. The voluntary conservation agreement is a win for rare plant conservation and private industry.
Wins like these have occurred over the past 40 years, with 93 State Natural Areas designated in 37 counties across the State representing the most significant and unique natural features in Colorado since the Colorado Natural Areas Act passed in 1977.
These areas were designated to recognize and support conservation for the rarest native plants and animals, representative plant communities, and unique geologic and/or paleontological features within Colorado. CNAP’s primary mechanism for protecting our state’s significant natural features is through voluntary conservation agreements with landowners.
Learn more about CNAP in the CNAP Triennial Report for 2012- 2014. The report is issued every three years and relates the status of the State’s most special areas and highlights recent accomplishments, new designations, and the program’s emphasis on rare plant conservation. Visit CNAP at http://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/CNAP.aspx.
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CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 42 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, big-game management, hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and nonmotorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.