Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

August 3, 2012


Gina Glenne - 970.243.2778, ext. 20
Diane Katzenberger - 303.236.4578

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Honors Recovery Champions for Conservation Contribution to Colorado’s Rare & Endangered Plants


Pagosa skyrocket, a rare, biennial plant found only in Archulata County, CO. It is listed as Endangered. Credit: USFWS
Pagosa skyrocket, an endanged Colorado plant. Credit; USFWS

KREMMLING, Colo. – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) honored the conservation efforts of the Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Initiative (RPCI), which works to protect some of the rarest and most endangered plants in the Centennial State.

During the Recovery Champion Award Ceremony, the Service presented awards to four individuals from the Colorado Natural Areas Program, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Denver Botanic Gardens and The Nature Conservancy to recognize their conservation contribution to the overall efforts of the RPCI. The award was intended to recognize the efforts of RPCI as a whole.

The Recovery Champion Award is presented once a year to a limited number of recipients nationwide. After the ceremony, the group of awardees, local government officials and conservationists visited three sites near Kremmling, which highlighted partner conservation efforts for the Penland beardtongue and the Osterhout milkvetch, both listed as endangered plants under the Endangered Species Act.

The Colorado RPCI is a partnership of 23 statewide and regional agencies, private organizations, and academic institutions working to conserve 121 rare plants in Colorado. As part of these efforts, the group developed the Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Strategy, developed Best Management Practices to reduce energy development impacts, addressed climate change and developed focused strategies for the conservation of individual species at eight priority landscapes. The group has also worked to coordinate volunteer efforts for plant conservation across the state.

There are 15 threatened and endangered rare plant species in Colorado; the RPCI team plays a role in recovering all of these species. The RPCI works to minimize threats to the species such as urban and rural development, oil and gas development and recreational use among others. The team renewed an emphasis on rare plants, coordinated conservation efforts, maximized and leveraged funding for conservation and research efforts, enhanced and increased volunteer efforts for rare plant conservation and increased awareness and education for these rare plants.

One of the RPCI’s greatest accomplishments was the development of the Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Strategy. This strategy represents a collective vision, emphasizing a proactive approach and prioritization system, with the goal of conserving Colorado’s rare plant species. The implementation of this strategy will enable concerned partners to systematically and meaningfully advance urgently needed plant conservation in Colorado. This strategy provides a cohesive plan that is helping to facilitate the recovery of all listed plant species in Colorado.

Recipients of the award include Betsy Neely of The Nature Conservancy, Susan Spackman-Panjabi of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Brian Kurzel of the Colorado Natural Areas Program, and Jennifer Neale of the Denver Botanic Gardens. The RPCI partnership includes a group of at least 23 partners from a wide array of backgrounds including universities, botanical gardens, conservation groups, consulting firms and botanical artists, as well as State and Federal Agencies.  This award is intended for all the members. Funding for the RPCI during 2009 and 2010 were secured through two National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grants.
For more RPCI information please go to:

For public domain pictures of the RPCI Recovery Champions Partners-in-Mission recipients please go to: For information about the 2011 recovery champions, please visit the Service’s Recovery Champion website at

America's fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. To learn more about the Service’s Endangered Species program, go to

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