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Rocky Mountain National Park Series: Earth Day Celebration!

by Christa Marsh

This Saturday, April 21st, Rocky Mountain National Park is celebrating Earth Day. 
The event is in combination with the celebrations of National Junior Ranger Day and National Park Week! 

Stop on by Beaver Meadows Visitor Center from 10:00AM – 2:00PM for learning and volunteering opportunities, kids activities and games and free admission.

Rocky Mountain National Park Series: Native Fish Populations

by Christa Marsh

Like many waters in the United States, stocking of non-native fish species was common in the late 1800's. And continues in many regions still. However, these non-native species, stocked for sport and food, can alter aquatic landscapes drastically and potentially extirpate native species altogether. In 1936, the National Park Service gave its first formal guidance to discourage non-native stocking and encourage stocking of native fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. Stocking stopped but not before 20 million fish had been stocked in the park's waters between 1886 and 1968. At this time, nearly all of the waters were inhabited by non-natives.

Native Cutthroat Trout, Photo Credit: NPS

Fish known to native to the area now known as Rocky Mountain National Park are cutthroat trout, suckers and sculpins. Historically, these fish were only found in the lower reaches as waterfalls and cascades served as migration barriers. Due to the cold water temperatures, it is thought that many of the park's waters were originally fishless.

With the assistance of 17 native trout reclamation projects, Rocky's native fish have continued to be restored and many non-natives have been removed. The Colorado River cutthroat trout and the Greenback cutthroat trout are two species of cutthroat native to RMNP waters.

Colorado River Cutthroat Trout Greenback Cutthroat Trout

Photo Credit: NPS     

A working list of the fish species in RMNP can be found at IRMA Portal NPSpecies.

Information about fishing opportunities in Rocky can be found on the park's Fishing page.

Happy Fishing


Illustration by Zoe Mozert

 

 

 

 

 

The National Park Service staff recently announced plans to start tracking close to 40 moose throughout Rocky Mountain National Park.

The moose presence has increased annually which prompted NPS staff to begin a moose research project. The growing population has presented challenges to efforts in re-establish elk range, as well as aspen and willow communities.


Researches in RMNP examining a captured moose - August 2017
Photo Credit: Rocky Mountain National Park

Moose have become prevalent on both sides of the park (East and West) and have been observed in every major drainage.

The collared and tracked moose will help NPS gather information on population size, growth rate, and habitat use; additionally, the moose will be monitored for chronic wasting disease and basic health metrics. The study will continue through 2022.

 

Rocky Mountain National Park Series: The Story of Isabella Bird

by Christa Marsh

There's a new restaurant at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park called Bird and Jim.  Last week Bird & Jim hosted a benefit for the owner's friend, Quinn Brett, who was injured in a climbing accident last fall. The restaurant was full of locals supporting Quinn and I had the opportunity to chat with the owner and ask why the name "Bird & Jim".

The name is a tribute to Isabella Bird, an early female explorer of RMNP, and her friend Mountain Jim Nugent. Isabella was a nineteenth century English explorer, writer, photographer and naturalist and in 1973, she made her 2nd trip to the United States at the age of 42. She was intrigued by Longs Peak, which she called it the "Mount Blanc of Northern Colorado".

It was a troubled journey to reach Estes Park, but eventually she made it. Isabella knew that on her path she had to pass the cabin of Mountain Jim Nugent, who Isabella had heard was a rough character. Upon meeting Mountain Jim and getting past his tough exterior, Isabella gained an appreciation and affinity for him and subsequently Jim offered to guide her up Longs Peak. Their story and journey is described in a 2016 article from Colorado Magazine.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth J. Black

Isabella was not the first woman to climb Longs Peak. Surely Native American woman were the first to summit. The first recorded female ascent was by Addie Alexander and a "Miss Bartlett," who climbed Longs in 1871 and Anna Dickinson who climbed it just a few months prior to Bird. The first ever recorded ascent of Longs was in 1868 by the surveying party of John Wesley Powell. 

Isabella accounts her journey up Longs Peak in her book "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" in which she writes about her 3,000-mile horseback trip across the Front Range. Isabella spent most of her life traveling and writing. Her other books include The Englishwoman in America (1856) and Aspects of Religion in the United States (1859). She was one of the greatest travel writers of all time and traveled the world from Colorado to Australia, Tibet, Vietnam and more.

You can learn more about the history of RMNP in the online book,
 Rocky Mountain National Park - A History

 

Rocky Mountain National Park Series: Zion National Park in 8K

by Christa Marsh

Awhile back we showed you the More Than Just Parks production Rocky Mountain 8K.

The More Than Just Parks project was founded to share the wonders of the National Parks with as many people as possible in order to continue their protection and enjoyment for all for years to come.

Learn more about the More Than Just Parks project at www.morethanjustparks.com!

Everyone loves a stunning, inspiring video to start their day, so we're sharing another favorite from the More Than Just Parks series, Zion.

Sit back and enjoy Zion's massive sandstone cliffs and narrow slot canyons in this journey through Utah's first National Park, Zion National Park.

ZION 8K from More Than Just Parks on Vimeo.

Rocky Mountain National Park Series: The Hexapods of RMNP

by Christa Marsh

Have you seen the little blackish bugs on the snow surface while exploring Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter? I always wonder what they are and why they're out in the cold!? 

Photo Credit: Scientific Insect Control

They're known as snow fleas, but officially they're springtails, which are not fleas at all. Springtails are hexapods and, in the summer, hundreds of thousands can populate one cubic meter of top soil. We just don't notice springtails on dark soil, but definitely notice them bouncing around against the white snow surface, particularly on warmer winter days.

Photo Credit: Farmers' Almanac

Snow fleas feed on decaying organic matter in the soil and play an important role in natural decomposition. Rocky Mountain National Park's Facebook page piqued my interest today with this video snip of springtails on the snow last week. Springtails can survive the cold temps because of a "glycine-rich antifreeze protein" I'd like some AFP for my hands and feet!

NPS Video J.McNamara

 

Looking to brush up on your beacon skills? Did you know Rocky has its very own beacon park?! 

The beacon training park located at Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. 
The beacon park opened last winter. It's designed for back country enthusiasts to practice simulated avalanche searches using their own avalanche beacons/transceivers and probes. The beacon training park consists of eight transmitters/targets and can be setup for single or multiple scenarios.


Photo Credit: Rocky Mountain National Park

 

The beacon park is a self-serve system and is available through the winter months. Back country travelers who are familiar with avalanche rescue gear and techniques and the use of an avalanche beacon and probe are welcome to use the training park!

For more information visit www.nps.gov/romo
or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.

 

Rocky Mountain National Park Series: Distance Learning through RMNP!

by Christa Marsh

Educators can take their students on a trip to Rocky without leaving the classroom with the Rocky Mountain National Park's Distance Learning Program!

Not that a trip to the park isn't the preferred learning experience, but winter weather, expenses, or travel can make an actual visit tough. A virtual visit is a fabulous learning tool, and could pique a student's interest in future RMNP exploration! 

The park also offers free interactive distance learning programs that classrooms can participate in virtually through Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts - learn more in the Virtual Programs Flyer.

The Education and Outreach team at Rocky Mountain National Park has developed short videos on a range of topics in park geology, wildfire ecology and the 4 RMNP ecosystems!

 


As you drive through Rocky Mountain National Park and scan the landscape, you'll see incredible mountain vistas, tranquil wetlands, and wide open meadows. You might spot majestic elk, mule deer, and the occasional coyote. For the past few years, visitors also notice the large teepees of logs scattered in open areas. They're called Slash piles and they're common in RMNP; a result of fuel reduction projects and hazard tree removals.

Slash Pile

Photo Credit: Robert Kunzig, National Geographic Society

Many tree carcasses are left untouched, but the park does need to cull the trees that are along roads, campgrounds, picnic areas, etc., as they can be dangerous for park visitors. Additionally, the strategic tree thinning helps to reduce accumulation of forest fuels along the urban interface and was instrumental in confining the Fern Lake fire from Estes Park.

It seems scary to have multiple mini fires burning in a park full of trees, but the park's fire management team has their methods.

Slash burning in rmnp
Photo Credit: Rocky Mountain National Park

Currently, the park is burning slash piles that are around 2 years old, as they're now dry enough to thoroughly burn. Importantly, burning only takes place when wet or winter weather conditions allow.

The slash piles are built just like camp fires. Twigs and needles on the inside, then the branches, and the logs go on the outside. As the interior burns, the heavy stuff falls in, which helps the pile burn thoroughly and hot. Fires are lit in the morning with the goal being to burn out before nightfall.

Fire mitigation is important in our parks as well as private mountain properties. Learn more about preparing and protecting your homes from wildfire at www.firewise.org.

Thank you for keeping our communities safe Rocky!

TWTlogo

 

Need a little inspiration for driving up to the park on a cold, snowy day?

How about a challenge to identify all of Rocky Mountain National Park's seven Coniferous trees.

Coniferous trees have distinct characteristics that will help you distinguish if you're looking at a Pine, Spruce or Fir. Then you can drill down and identify the species.


Wind-shaped Limber Pine, NPS.gov

PINE
Needles grow in clusters of 2, 3 or 5 depending on the species.

RMNP Pines: Limber Pine, Lodgepole Pine and Ponderosa Pine

***

SPRUCE
Individual needles, which are stiff, pointy and have sharp edges - they'll roll between your fingers unlike a Fir. Remember 'SSS' (spiny, sharp, spruce). Spruce cones hang mid-branch.

RMNP Spruce: Englemann Spruce and Blue Spruce

***

FIR
Needles grow individually on the branch, but they are soft and flat. You can remember 'FFF' (flat, fat, fir). The cones are also at the top of the branch rather than hanging mid-branch like a Spruce.

RMNP Fir: Subalpine Fir

***

DOUGLAS-FIR
"Douglas-firs" are not actually classified as true Firs. They are a part of an entire genus containing 6 different species!

If you remember one tree, it can be the Douglas-fir. They have a sweet tale that will help you easily identify them on future hikes.

Indigenous legend in the Pacific Northwest tells that a long time ago there was a great fire in the forest. All of the animals were fleeing before the encroaching flames. However, the tiny mice with their short little mouse-legs were not quick enough to outrun the fire. In danger of being engulfed in the flames, they asked the strong and stoic Douglas-fir trees for help. The trees were inclined to be friendly to the mice, and allowed them to climb up their thick, fire-resistant trunks and hide themselves in their fir cones. The mice gladly took shelter inside the cones, and survived the terrible fire. And even today – if you examine the cones of a Douglas-fir closely – you can see the little hind feet and tails of the mice sticking out from beneath the scales of the fir cones. Story from Heart of the West Coast

You can identify Conifers year-round in RMNP! Just another reason to strap on your snowshoes and explore this beautiful national park in our backyard! Learn more about the Conifers of RMNP here. Get to the park early on weekends and carpool if you can!

 

 

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Cory Dudley
The Winning Team Real Estate Group
522 Kimbark St
Longmont CO 80501
Mobile: (303) 641-8597
Office: (303) 776-4004
Fax: (303) 776-4661