Betty Ford Alpine Gardens host Colorado Natural Heritage Program botanist Oct. 14 | VailDaily.com

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens host Colorado Natural Heritage Program botanist Oct. 14

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The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens have nearly 3,000 species of high-alpine plants outside, and the alpine house at the Education Center houses some of the rarest plants in North America.

Colorado is home to 117 plant species considered to be globally imperiled and vulnerable to extinction. Of those, 68 species are found only in our Mile High state and nowhere else in the world. These species are located in narrow strips of land that comprise less than .001 percent of Colorado's land mass.

Conservation of these distinctive plants is critical to their survival.

To gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for Colorado's rare plants, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is hosting Susan Panjabi, botanist at the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, for an Intimate Evening at the Gardens on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Education Center.

Advanced tickets are $15 (day-of are $20) and includes appetizers, beer and wine. Supporting members of Betty Ford Alpine Gardens receive a 10 percent discount. Tickets are available on the Alpine Gardens' calendar at http://www.bettyfordalpinegardens.org or by calling 970-476-0103, ext. 3.

NO 'TYPICAL DAY' AT THE Office

Panjabi has focused her research and studies on rare plants of Colorado for the past 20 years. She is the principal author of the "Colorado Rare Plant Field Guide" and works with a state-wide team of botanists on the Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Initiative to boost the effectiveness of rare plant protection efforts across Colorado.

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There is no typical day at the office for Panjabi. She climbs peaks as high as 13,000 feet to identify the smallest, toughest plants in some of Colorado's uncommon habitats including the Great Sand Dunes National Monument and the shale limestone in Rifle.

Identifying and quantifying the new and existing populations is an important step to conserving and protecting the unique species. Panjabi knows the characteristic of rare plants, what they look like, where they are located and threats that exist.

The Colorado Natural Heritage Program also monitors Colorado's rare and imperiled species and habitats. It provides scientific expertise and research promoting the conservation of the state's wealth of biological resources. Established in 1979, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program is a nonprofit scientific organization affiliated with the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University.

ABOUT THE GARDENS

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is Vail's botanical garden.

It is also considered the highest, most prestigious alpine botanical garden in the world. Visitors can freely wander around the 5 acres of outdoor gardens, the Education Center and the Alpine House. The Gardens is open throughout the year and provides guided and unguided snowshoe tours in the winter.

To learn more, visit http://www.bettyford alpinegardens.org.

If you go …

Who: Botanist Susan Panjabi, of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program.

Where: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center, Vail.

When: Saturday, Oct. 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $15 in advance ($20 day-of), includes appetizers, beer and wine.

More information: Visit http://www.BettyFordAlpineGardens.org or call 970-746-0103, ext. 3.

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