Southern Colorado Plateau Plant Inventories
Project Status: Completed
The primary purpose of vascular plant inventories is to assess and document the current condition and knowledge of plant resources in the parks. Inventories help NPS staff and researchers compare the existing condition of vegetation in the parks with the desired or natural state, providing a solid baseline for long-term monitoring plans. The 19 national parks on the Southern Colorado Plateau nurture a great diversity of vascular plants, due in large part to the Plateau’s varied landscape of mountains and canyons, with extremes in elevation ranging from over 10,000 feet in the Jemez Mountains of Bandelier National Monument to the depths of Grand Canyon National Park. Vegetation ranges in diversity from the montane conifer forests at the highest elevations to desert scrub at the lowest. An estimated 10% of the 3,000-5,000 plant species on the plateau are endemic, one of the highest levels of endemism in the U.S. Many of these species are either federally listed as threatened or endangered, or are otherwise rare. Inventorying the plant communities in our parks helps us to determine what species occur and their distribution on the landscape. In turn, this information helps us to make sound decisions about how to manage these resources and ensure the future health of our parks.