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Grasslands

RFETS_grass_mtns[1]Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge preserves important grassland communities.

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 America.

 

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

Last Updated: Mar 01, 2014
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