Although Steamboat Springs does not yet have a local chapter of the Colorado Native Plant Society, this organization offers some valuable benefits to local gardeners via newsletters, workshops, field trips and the Internet (www.conps.org).
The Society was founded in 1976 and is comprised of volunteers who work with public and private organizations to promote the appreciation and conservation of native plants and the responsible use of these plants in gardening and restoration projects. Volunteers study Colorado's native flora, especially rare plants and the ecosystems that support them.
On the Web site, you'll find exquisite photos of the many plants that grow in Colorado including a slideshow of Colorado orchids, mountain wildflowers, foothills and plains wildflowers, semi-desert flowers in Colorado and more.
With each photo is a description of the plant, including its common and botanical names and its origins and history.
If you're interested in working on a project, opportunities abound. For instance, the 2006 Rare Orchid Project partners with the Denver Botanic Gardens, Butterfly Pavilions and Partners for Colorado Native Plants to monitor several rare orchid species. You receive training in plant identification as well as GPS training.
Members also are invited to participate in field trips, which take place May through September with occasional winter trips.
Upcoming field trips this summer include Rocky Mountain National Park on July 22 to see how the park manages the alpine tundra, wetlands and montane upland ecosystems. The first weekend in August is an excursion to Cameron Pass on the trail of elusive Moonworts.
The Society also provides information on such topics as Ethics of Collecting Native Plants, Plant Species to Avoid and a Vegetative Key for Willows. Workshops also are offered on a variety of topics such as Plant Terminology, Wildflower Photography and Beginning Plant Identification.
In addition, the Society awards grants to people seeking to research native plants and publishes the results of the research in its bimonthly newsletter.
As you can see, there are many benefits offered by the Colorado Native Plant Society. Becoming a member is as easy as visiting the Web site and downloading the membership application.
Dues range from $8 per year for students and seniors to $15 for individuals/$20 for couples to $250 for a lifetime membership.
If you're interested in native plants in our beautiful state, it will be worth your time to check out the Colorado Native Plant Society.