Boulder Bioblitz

Discoveries Along Deer Creek

In May 2008, The Nature Conservancy joined landowners and nearly 20 local and regional scientists, including ecologists, biologists, entomologists and naturalists for a second eco-investigation near the town of Boulder, Utah.  This wide-ranging group of experts built on the critical plant and animal data found in the first bioblitz last summer, and continued to uncover the conservation potential of the Deer Creek watershed.

Why Deer Creek?

At Deer Creek, the science team focused on the riparian ecosystem: a ribbon of vibrant vegetation located adjacent to the creek's waters. Riparian areas serve as an important transition zone between the upland and aquatic habitats, and provide incredibly rich and productive areas for life to thrive. Healthy riparian areas provide nesting, foraging and shelter sites for a range of wildlife. If well managed, riparian habitats also offer important human benefits, such as purifying water, and minimizing erosion and flooding.

What did scientists find at Deer Creek?
  • Incredible Biodiversity: In the first bioblitz, more than 300 species of plants, over 40 families of insects, and a diversity of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals were identified. The second bioblitz uncovered an additional 39 species of plants and animals.
  • Rare Species Habitat:  Scientists confirmed the importance of this habitat for at-risk native species, such as Ute's Ladies Tresses and Colorado River cutthroat trout.
  • Conservation Potential:  The Deer Creek corridor is still mostly untouched by invasive weeds that choke most Western waterways, giving land managers and conservation stakeholders a rare opportunity to act now to sustain this unique system and use it as foundation to restore at-risk species.
Next Steps
  • Ongoing Research: Experts are planning additional plant and animal surveys in the area this fall, and will also continue to analyze results and create a shared database that captures critical baseline information on the region's biodiversity.
  • Growing Partnerships: The ecological importance of the Deer Creek watershed is attracting growing support and collaboration from Boulder landowners and a wide variety of land management agencies, conservation partners and other key stakeholders.
  • Conservation Action:  The Conservancy, partners and landowners will use the new scientific data to develop restoration and management recommendations for threatened plants, animals and their associated habitats. For example, scientists are planning a native fish study in Deer Creek, which will help them explore opportunities to improve habitat for the endangered Colorado cutthroat trout.

The Conservancy is excited by the growing energy behind community conservation in Boulder.  We hope to continue our work as a partner and resource for the Boulder community as it moves forward with planning for balanced growth and conservation. Together with residents, landowners, agency partners and other conservation groups, the Conservancy is pleased to support efforts to ensure that Boulder remains a special place for future generations.

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