Revegetation Efforts in Rocky Mountain National Park

Revegetation and restoration at Rocky Mountain National Park occur for a variety of reasons-- accidents such as cars driving off the road and damaging tundra, management changes such as the removal of the Hidden Valley Ski Area, and routine maintenance such as the reconstruction of the Bear Lake road, to name just a few. Revegetation activities involve quite a bit of background thought and activity before park staff can go out to the site and plant seeds or plants. Plants to be used in revegetation efforts must be native or be a sterile nurse crop (a non-reproducing plant that provides shelter, nutrients, or raises humidity for the native plants seeded along side it). Seeds collected on the park must be collected from an area similar to and nearby the area to be revegetated so that the plants that result are genetically as similar as possible to those that would have naturally occured on the site. If plants are to be grown for a project, they sometimes must be started years in advance of the need. The park has a "Best Management Practices" statement that defines how revegetation efforts will be done.

In 2003 revegetation efforts restored 8.3 acres of the park at 10 different sites, 31 species of seed were collected, 650 square feet of tundra was salvaged, 1515 trees and shrubs were salvaged, 19,700 plants were propagated, and 44,629 plants were cared for in the park's nursery. While the park had several part-time staff and 2 full-time employees who worked on this effort, it could not have been accomplished without the aid of a dedicated crew of volunteers who donated over 5,000 hours to revegetation efforts.

Revegetation at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center was one of the projects that would not have been possible without volunteer assistance. Volunteers provided 1,451 of the total 2,757 hours necessary to complete the job. A little over two acres of revegetation was necessary because a Visitor Comfort Station was added to the Visitor Center and the parking area was redesigned in 2002-2003. More than six thousand plants and 17.5 pounds of seeds were used for this project. All but 50 of the plants were grown in the park's greenhouse or salvaged from other sites in the park. All the plants used were native species, and a wide diversity (more than 45 species) were used to mimic the diversity found in similar habitats in the park as well as to tie into the original landscaping of the Visitor Center. Considerable effort went into watering and weeding the area as well as preventing elk damage after the planting was completed.

If you are interested in volunteering to assist in revegetation efforts, or in any number of other interesting projects, visit our Volunteer and Employment Opportunities page to learn more.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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Estes Park, CO 80517


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