Once a sustainable summit route has been constructed, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative crews stabilize and restore unplanned, user-created hiking routes that are usually badly eroded and damaging to sensitive native vegetation. Rocks are placed in the trail at regular intervals to stabilize the slope and catch silt-laden runoff. Precious alpine soils —which can take 1,000 years per inch to create— are transported from nearby areas to restore the natural contours of the surrounding slope. Plugs of native plants and grasses are transplanted into the old trail to colonize restoration efforts; the most resilient native plants are used so that they have the greatest chance of surviving the transplant process. Finally, native seeds are dispersed on the closed trail to further the recovery of native plants. Since alpine plants take 10- to 1,000-times longer to regrow than plants growing at lower altitudes, these restoration efforts can take many years before damaged areas are restored to their natural condition.
CFI has developed a series of short educational videos focusing on the alpine ecology of the Fourteener peaks. These videos help explain what is so unique about alpine tundra plants found on these high peaks, what it takes to survive at these high altitudes, and why they are so important to protect and restore. Videos in the series include:
Colorado’s Alpine Environment
Cushion Plants–Alpine Pioneers
Microclimates and Rare Plants
Old Man of the Mountain
Please Don’t Pick the Flowers
Conserving Valuable Alpine Soils