Conservation Projects and Programs: Our Approach

We offer a variety of on-the-ground conservation projects and encourage our members to participate.  Some of these projects are designed and run solely by the Society, but in our latest brainstorming meeting in February of 2015, the conservation committee decided to partner with other agencies to offer joint conservation projects.  Because there are so many organizations that offer excellent projects for volunteers, and because we do not have the staff to organize a variety of opportunities, we felt it made more sense to do conservation projects jointly with other organizations.

This year we are offering on-the-ground conservation projects to pull noxious weeds, revegetate alpine tundra, collect seeds of native plants for revegetation projects, conduct our annual BioBlitz, monitor research plots of rare plants, track plant phenology and steward the state's Natural Areas. 

Read on for more details.

These projects are organized by the Conservation Committee.


Cottonwoods on the South Platte River 
[photo credit]

Volunteers on Summit Lake Revegetation Project 2013
[photo credit]

On-the-Ground Conservation Projects

This year we are doing several projects jointly with Wildland Restoration Volunteers (WRV) and a new program with the Southern Rocky Mountain Seed Network.  WRV is a extremely successful volunteer organization that conducts about 60 restoration projects around the state.  They have hundreds of volunteers and an excellent staff that are really skilled in organizing projects.  Three of the projects we offer this year are being conducted at Summit Lake on Mount Evans.  This is an extension of a long-term CoNPS research project that we have been conducting at Summit Lake since 2012.  The history of the project is described in the Mt. Evans Inventory & Mapping page.

Several projects are being jointly run with the Southern Rocky Mountain Seed Network, a new organization run by John Giordenango, a CoNPS member.  The goal of this organization is to collect native seeds for restoration projects in Colorado.

Latest updates: On-the-Ground Conservation Projects.

These programs are organized by the Conservation Committee.


Adopt-a-Rare-Plant Program     

The Adopt-a-Rare-Plant Program, has been run in conjunction with the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program since 2011.  The program trains volunteers to search for and monitor rare plant populations in Colorado.  Training is provided once a year alternately on the East or West Slope by the Denver Botanic Gardens.  Once your training is completed,  you, with a group of other volunteers, will be assigned an imperiled plant species with occurrences that have not been seen in more than 20 years.  Armed with old element occurrence records and photos, illustrations and descriptions of your species, your group will venture out into the hinterlands to find and document your species.

The 2015 class is being held as a joint class with the Rare Plant Monitoring Stewards Program on June 6.  Register for the class [here] or go to the Denver Botanic Gardens Website.

Interested members should contact Michelle DePrenger, Research Associate at the Denver Botanic Gardens at or 720-865-3630

This program is coordinated by Conservation Committee


Karen Cleaver looking at Penstemon eriantherus
[photo credit]

Natural Areas Volunteer Stewards Program

The Natural Areas Volunteer Stewards Program is offered by the Colorado Natural Areas Program (CNAP) within Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  CNAP is responsible for designating certain areas of Colorado as state Natural Areas because of their rare plants, plant communities, rare wildlife, and/or unique geologic and paleontologic features.  Because they have designated about 100 areas, and because of their small staff, they rely on volunteers to visit the sites and report back on their condition.  Currently CNAP has several sites in need of volunteer stewards.


If you love to hike, see new places and become a local expert on plants in a unique area, you should visit the Natural Areas Volunteer Stewards page to find out more about this terrific program.

Upper Greasewood Creek Natural Area:  Grassland
[photo credit]

Rare Plant Monitoring, Penstemon debilis, Mt. Callihan, Parachute CO
[photo credit]

Rare Plant Monitoring Stewards Program

The Rare Plant Monitoring Stewards Program is a joint program of the Colorado Natural Areas Program, the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Colorado Native Plant Society.  Working with staff at the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG), CoNPS volunteers assist with the ongoing study of several imperiled native plant species.  DBG is currently conducting several long-term studies of these plants, visiting each site one or more times a year.  Volunteers assist with counting, measuring and photographing and documenting each species.  Full training is provided by the Denver Botanic Gardens in a class held once a year either on the East or West Slope of Colorado.  The 2015 class is being held as a joint class with the Adopt-A-Rare-Plant program on June 6.  Register for the class [here] or go to the Denver Botanic Gardens Website.

Interested members should contact Michelle DePrenger, Research Associate at the Denver Botanic Gardens at or 720-865-3630.

This program is coordinated by Conservation Committee


Adopt-a-Trail Program

The Adopt-a-Trail Program is a new pilot program which we are testing out with a few volunteers.  The brain-child of Linda Smith, the program is designed to have volunteers become "citizen scientists" by tracking the phenology of plants along a favorite trail.  Originally we were going to run this program on our own, but we found a much better organized program run by the National Phenology Network on a nationwide basis called "Nature's Notebook".  Since the goal of CoNPS is to disseminate data that we collect as widely as possible, this program fit the bill. 

Volunteers choose certain plants along a favorite trail, and using materials provided by NPN, they track the timing of various stages of plant growth from original leaf buds to flowering to fruiting to senescence.  The program is described in more detail on the Adopt-a-Trail Program page.

Interested volunteers should contact Linda Smith at  or (970) 663-4085.

This program is run by the Conservation Committee.


Fravert Basin, Maroon Bells
[photo credit]

Fireweed at Alpine Basin
[photo credit]

 Research Studies and BioBlitzes

For many years CoNPS has run a series of research studies of ecologically important areas. Over the past few years these studies have taken the form of BioBlitzes. Wikipedia defines BioBlitz as: "an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period." Being the hearty souls Colorado volunteers are, our BioBlitzes generally run two days with camping in the middle. This program attracts interesting scientists from many disciplines, and for us some wonderful botanists. But this program isn't just for the heavy-duty botanists. It is a wonderful opportunity for amateur botanists to pair up with experienced botanists and learn a great deal about our native plants. In this role, they can record species, help collect and press specimens and photograph plants to record plants both collected and not collected.

Past and Upcoming BioBlitzes
This program is run by  Field Studies Committee
Interested volunteers should email Steve Olson at


Avery Peak Twinpod
Physaria alpina
[photo credit]


Chapter On-the-Ground Conservation Programs

In addition to the programs provided by the Conservation and Field Studies Committees, CoNPS chapters often organize conservation projects on their own in their local areas.  These are often done in conjunction with CoNPS partners.  These programs are announced in the weekly or monthly newsletters that chapter presidents send to members and are also listed on this website.

Chapter Conservation Activities

Future Project Ideas

 At our last annual Conservation Committee brainstorming session in February 2015, we dreamed about what conservation programs we might run in the future.  Below are some of the ideas we discussed.

Rescue Plants at oil & gas development sites
Pre-inventory of sites to be developed for residential areas or oil and gas development
Post-restoration monitoring
Collaboration with the Rare Plant Conservation Network if it is resurrected 

Starting new programs in any of these categories takes one thing: one interested and motivated volunteer!


Twisted Stalk
(Streptopus amplifolius)
[photo credit]

North Park Phacelia (Phacelia formosula)
[photo credit]


 Our Partners

Colorado Natural Heritage Program (Adopt-a-Rare-Plant Program)
Colorado Natural Areas Program (Rare Plant Monitoring Stewards Program & Volunteer Stewards Program)
Denver Botanic Gardens (Adopt-a-Rare-Plant Program & Rare Plant Monitoring Stewards Program)
National Phenology Network (Adopt-a-Trail Program)
Southern Rocky Mountain Seed Network (On-the-Ground Conservation Programs)
Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (On-the-Ground Conservation Programs