Hike of the Week: Celebrate Endangered Species Week by learning about Colorado’s indigenous flora and fauna | VailDaily.com

Hike of the Week: Celebrate Endangered Species Week by learning about Colorado’s indigenous flora and fauna

By Nathan Boyer-Rechlin
Special to the Daily

What do Colorado’s state animal, Governor Polis, and your backyard trail all have in common? Well, this week, quite a lot actually. 

Set to coincide with both Colorado Public Lands Day on May 16, and National Endangered Species day on the 15th, this week is Colorado’s 4th annual Endangered Species Week. In his official proclamation, Governor Polis cited more than 300 indigenous at-risk plants and animals, 22 million acres of public lands, and the intimate economic and ecologic ties that the protection of these species have to our lives as Coloradans. 

Many of our most memorable moments out on the trails involve one of these species. Look back through your photo gallery, Instagram feed, or photo album, depending on how far back we’re talking. I would be surprised if you haven’t snapped a shot of one of Colorado’s iconic at-risk species. This could be shot of a bighorn sheep from your daily commute down I-70, or an encounter with a pika.

This pika is actually a type of rabbit, with short ears and other special adaptations to help it survive in its alpine habitat.
Rick Spitzer | Special to the Daily

Despite the seeming regularity of our encounters with these animals, many of Colorado’s wildlife populations are feeling the stress from the combined pressures of development, increasing backcountry use and a changing climate. 

Every day this week, Rocky Mountain Wild, a Colorado-based nonprofit that works to “protect, connect, and restore wildlife and wild lands in the Southern Rocky Mountain region,” will be hosting a variety of activities, webinars, citizen science trainings and more. Visit their website for more information on the virtual events they have going on, and take this opportunity to learn a little more about the species that live here in the mountains alongside us.

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Oh, and Colorado’s state animal? The Bighorn Sheep. Now you know.

Nathan Boyer-Rechlin is the community outreach coordinator, hiking guide, and trails guru at Walking Mountains Science Center. You can reach him at (970) 827-9725 ext. 144, or nathanbr@walkingmountains.org.

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