Deb Babcock: Help track down rare plants

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Deb Babcock

Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today.

Find more gardening columns here.

You can make a real difference in helping to keep some of our rarest plants in the Yampa Valley from becoming endangered or extinct. Consider participating in a program being offered locally in conjunction with the Yampa River Botanic Park and the Denver Botanic Gardens along with the Colorado Native Plant Society and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program.

It’s called the Adopt-a-Rare Plant program. This effort tracks more than 500 plant species in our state and maintains information about how many of them still exist, where they tend to grow and whether there are any impending threats to their continued existence.

Information is needed on plants identified as becoming rare and others that need to be tracked as to their status in the wild. According to the group, there are some local Routt County species, designated as historic plants, which have not been seen in the wild for more than 20 years. Volunteers are needed to go out and see whether there are any specimens of these plants still alive. By tracking this information, we can help keep some rare species protected and note the size of the population of other plants that are being tracked.

A training program is April 28 at the Yampa River Botanic Park’s Trillium House. Once you have gone through the training, you will choose a species to adopt and be given information to help you find the plants, if they still exist. The cost is $20.

The training session will be conducted by Jennifer Neale, Ph.D., director of research and conservation at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Neale has been conducting long-term monitoring of several species to track what happens to the populations over time. She helps conserve some of the most imperiled species by collecting seeds for future restoration and reintroduction projects.

It’s sure to be an informative session, and searching for these plants will be a fun and helpful sleuthing endeavor.

Sign up by calling 970-846-5172 or visiting the Denver Botanic Gardens website.

Deb Babcock is a master gardener through the Routt County CSU Extension Office. Call 970-879-0825 with questions.

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