Because of their suitability for agriculture and ranching, grasslands
around the world are one of the fastest disappearing ecosystems. Establishment of Rocky Flats ensured the
preservation of two grassland types that are globally and locally threatened,
rare, and important.
Xeric Tallgrass prairie is a remnant from the last ice age
and is composed of species such as indiangrass, switchgrass, little and big
bluestem, western wheatgrass, mountain muhly, prairie dropseed, the federally
threatened Colorado butterfly plant and several other rare plant, animal, and
insect species. This unique habitat is found
only along the Colorado Piedmont, along the eastern front of the Rocky
Mountains. Tracts at the refuge and the
City of Boulder open space are possibly the largest areas remaining in North
Mixed Prairie grasslands at the refuge are characterized by the Rocky Flats Bluestem Grassland community which is characterized
by the abundance of big bluestem with little bluestem, mountain muhly and Porter’s
aster. While big and little bluestem are characteristic of Midwestern tallgrass
prairies, mountain muhly and Porter’s aster are characteristic of mountain environments.
This unusual combination of mountain and plains grassland species in a
consistent and recurring pattern across
the Rocky Flats alluvial surface, along with evidence of exceptional stability,
makes this vegetation community a rare, if not unique, resource
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Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge was established in part to preserve and protect more than 630 species of plants, as well as the rare xeric tallgrass prairie.