The Denver Mountain Parks Foundation is excited to announce that it has partnered with the Denver Botanic Gardens on a floristic study of the newest Denver Mountain park Axton Ranch.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Axton Family, the Axton Ranch was recently donated to the City of Denver. The area consists of 450 acres of pristine meadows, pine forests, and aspen groves, but has never been explored scientifically to fully understand what plant species and communities are present. Denver Botanic Gardens will conduct the floristic study, led by University of Colorado Denver PhD student Audrey Spencer, to inventory the biodiversity of this area with the goal of providing a full understanding of the diverse species present.
As part of the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation’s mission, we always seek new ways to provide opportunities for conservation and preservation of the Denver’s unique Mountain Parks. In keeping with this, the floristic study will provide significant information for continuing Denver’s legacy of land stewardship and conservation of public lands. The study will provide baseline information upon which the City will be able to create a master plan for the new park that enables appropriate use and protects the biodiversity for generations to come.
This partnership will also help fulfill our commitment to the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. All of the plant species will be documented using both a physical specimen as well as an observation. Physical specimens will be pressed, dried, and mounted onto herbarium sheets for permanent preservation on site at the Gardens. Observations will also be made using the app iNaturalist. Both will provide accessibility of the data to other researchers as well as the public.
We are also particularly excited to use this opportunity to provide immersive opportunities to train the next generation of scientists. Along with Head Curator of Natural History Collections Jennifer Ackerfield and Emeritus Curator Janet Wingate, two Denver Public School high school interns will be joining on field expeditions. These interns will learn about the career path of a scientist, gain valuable work experience in the sciences, and build their own professional skills.
Your continued support of the Denver Mountain Parks Foundation makes this project and others like it possible. Please consider a gift today to ensure that generations of residents and visitors to Denver are able to enjoy the Denver Mountain Parks for years to come.
Kate Fritz, Board Chair
Denver Mountain Parks Foundation