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Fens mapping for the Rio Grande National Forest




Smith, Gabrielle, author
Lemly, Joanna, author
Smith, Pam, author
Kuhn, Bernadette, author
Colorado Natural Heritage Program, publisher

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The Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF) covers nearly two million acres within the Rio Grande Headwaters River Basin in south central Colorado. The diverse geography of the RGNF created an equally diverse set of wetlands that provide important ecological services to both RGNF and lands downstream. Organic soil wetlands known as fens are an irreplaceable resource that the U.S. Forest Service has determined should be managed for conservation and restoration. Fens are defined as groundwater-fed wetlands with organic soils that typically support sedges and low stature shrubs. In the arid west, organic soil formation can take thousands of years. Long-term maintenance of fens requires maintenance of both the hydrology and the plant communities that enable fen formation. ... The Rio Grande National Forest contains a rich resource of fen wetlands. This report and associated dataset provide the RGNF with a critical tool for conservation planning at both a local and Forest-wide scale. These data will be useful for the ongoing RGNF biological assessment required by the 2012 Forest Planning Rule, but can also be used for individual management actions, such as planning for timber sales, grazing allotments, and trail maintenance. Wherever possible, the Forest should avoid direct disturbance to the fens mapped through this project, and should also strive to protect the watersheds surrounding high concentrations of fens, thereby protecting their water sources.


Prepared for: Rio Grande National Forest.
April 2016.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 27-28).

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