High Altitude Society: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens explores rare plants in Colorado | VailDaily.com

High Altitude Society: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens explores rare plants in Colorado

Betty Ann Woodland
High Altitude Society

On a beautiful fall day at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center and Alpine House, a group of admirers of plants gathered together to listen to Susan Panjabi, senior botanist with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program at Colorado Sate University, speak about rare and imperiled plants of Colorado.

Panjabi spoke about plants that are infrequently found and her efforts to describe and study them. She works with a state-wide team of botanists on the Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Initiative, which aims to boost the effectiveness of rare plant conservation efforts across Colorado.

The Education Center was full of people who got excited to learn about where these rare plants are found and ways to protect them. During the reception I learned that Nanette Kuich, education coordinator at the Alpine Gardens, knows a thing or two about plant lovers.

"I did my thesis on how men tend to become interested in plants. If they had an attachment to a parent, relative or teacher that got them involved when they were young then they carry that interest their entire lives and will get involved with plants," Kuich said. "Or if they are among a social group later in life, then they will get involved. They really like things like trail building, construction and rock wall building."

Kuich greeted the group and talked about wrapping up the 2017 season, which was themed The Year of the Pollinator. The Alpine Gardens recently had more than 300 fourth-graders make perennial flower seed balls for pollinators to spread.

On Feb. 1, photographer John Fielder will donate a percentage of his book sales to the Alpine Gardens at an event with Dr. Jon Kedrowski, who will talk about his book "Classic Colorado Ski Descents." In addition, there will be other educational opportunities at the Education Center. For more information, visit http://www.BettyFordAlpineGardens.org.

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'Next Steps'

Kuich introduced Panjabi, who works with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, "a nonprofit that is interested in preserving the incredible diversity of species that we have in Colorado."

Panjabi has climbed the highest mountains and visited the smallest, most isolated valleys to find these rare and imperiled plants. Panjabi gave the group an overview of the CNHP, spent a good amount of time discussing the rare plants, touched on key threats and analyses and concluded with conservation planning and next steps strategies.

"Next steps include pollination studies, more best management practices, field surveys and collaborations," Panjabi said.

To learn more, visit http://www.cnhp.colosate.edu.

For more information on programs, volunteering and ways to support the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, visit http://www.bettyfordalpine gardens.org.

Betty Ann Woodland is a longtime local who covers social events including fundraisers for nonprofits, local happenings and soirees of all kinds. She can be reached at bettyannw6@gmail.com.