Boulder County Ecosystem Stewardship Initiative

Imagine a wild place in Boulder County that you visit several times a year, learning the names of the beetles and butterflies; following the blooming cycles of wildflowers and the breeding cycles of songbirds; quietly observing coyotes, foxes, and elk. Imagine this peaceful place being permanently monitored and protected through your efforts and the efforts of those who follow you.

This is the vision of the Boulder County Ecosystem Stewardship Initiative, a volunteer project launched by the Boulder County Nature Association and Boulder County Audubon. The project has three goals:

1.  Monitor natural processes in Boulder County native ecosystems.

2. Use data collected to improve management and influence policy-making.

3. Recruit a cadre of naturalists to monitor and protect natural areas in perpetuity.

We invite everyone who cherishes the peace and beauty of natural places to consider becoming a steward. The only qualifications are an interest in nature, a desire to learn more, and a willingness to spend 4-6 mornings a year recording observations in a protected part of Boulder County. You might choose a canyon in the foothills, a prairie wildlife area such as Sawhill Ponds, or a favorite meadow or forest grove in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. As of August 2008, 60 volunteers had adopted 30 wild areas.

Volunteers receive training in forest inventory, breeding bird and butterfly survey techniques, and wildflower identification. However, no volunteer is expected to carry out all these tasks; instead, each is asked to track only mammal sightings, breeding bird populations, and recreational use each year. Beyond that, there is a "menu" of other things you can monitor as you become more comfortable with the area you've adopted and with the monitoring protocols. Each volunteer keeps all of his or her data in one Excel file, which is updated from year to year.

We organize a number of field trips and volunteer trainings each spring and summer. Feel free to drop in on any of these trips (always posted on this website), or give me a call if you would like more information. Use the links below to obtain relevant files for Ecosystem Stewardship volunteers.

Steve Jones, 303-494-2468;

Data Entry Instructions for Volunteers

Before the end of each calendar year (by December 15) enter all your data for that year and for previous years into a single Excel file (see "Data Recording Spreadsheet", below). Use a separate worksheet for each category: [Breeding Birds, Mammals, Site Description, Recreational Users], and add others as appropriate [e.g., Butterflies, Plants]. Submit your updated file to Reminder: you should submit only this one file each year, and it should contain all your data from all the years you have been monitoring your area.

Stewardship Protocol (PDF)

Stewardship References (PDF)

Bird Breeding Codes and their interpretation (PDF)

Vascular plants of Boulder County (PDF)

Bird point count recording form (MS Word) (PDF)

Bird checklist (MS Word) (PDF)

Boulder County butterfly list (Excel spreadsheet)

Butterfly survey form (MS Word) (PDF)

Data recording spreadsheet (Excel spreadsheet)