What Is It?
Grasslands are made up of grasses and broad-leaved, herbaceous plants. They usually have very few or no woody plants and see warm growing seasons.
What Are Some Examples?
Foothill and mountain grasslands - This includes Western Great Plains Foothill and Piedmont Grassland, Southern Rocky Mountain Montane-Subalpine Grassland, and Inter-Mountain Basins Semi-Desert Grassland. Together these grasslands cover about three million acres in Colorado.
Mixed and tallgrass prairie - Mixed-grass habitats are characterized by mid-height or tall native grasses including sand bluestem, prairie sandreed, yellow indiangrass, little bluestem, switchgrass and in some areas prairie cordgrass.
Shortgrass prairie - Shortgrass is characterized by blue grama
(Bouteloua gracilis) and buffalograss
Learn more about these and other grassland habitats in
chapter 3 of the 2015 SWAP.
What Species Depend On This Habitat?
Grasslands are home to birds such as
sharp-tailed grouse, grasshopper sparrow, lark bunting which is the Colorado state bird, scaled and northern bobwhite quail and ring-necked pheasant as well as
burrowing owls, and various species of hawks. The
Massasauga rattlesnake and the swift fox also depend on grasslands as their primary habitat.
What Challenges Does This Landscape Face, and What Is CPW Doing?
The largest challenge for shortgrass prairie is fragmentation to urban sprawl and housing along the front range. Of Colorado's grasslands, shortgrass however is the most abundant and in the best condition.
The largest challenge to Colorado’s mixed and tallgrass remnants is conversion to active row crop production. This massive loss of habitat affects everything from plains mule deer to pheasants to greater-prairie chickens to grasshopper sparrows. CPW is very active in restoration of this habitat type through various state and federal programs, from state run habitat development programs to working with the USDA on the Conservation Reserve Program. We work with two federal USDA agencies,
Farm Services Agency (FSA) and
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to design and deliver effective conservation-targeting grassland species such as the prairie grouse, upland gamebirds, grassland songbirds and pollinating insects that support the food chain for most grassland birds.
CPW also partners with non-governmental organizations and the NRCS to place farm bill biologists in NRCS offices in order to assist in providing wildlife planning and technical assistance to private landowners concerning thousands of acres of land.
The grassland ecosystem is especially sensitive to drought, so CPW keeps a close eye on its health through research and monitoring initiatives.
CPW also works closely with oil and gas as well as livestock farming and ranching industries to enhance habitat mitigation or restoration through robust partnership and the implementation of
best management practices and compatible grazing plans.