Explore White Rocks Natural Area with the Boulder County Nature Association
Friday, October 20, 2017, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
The unique and scientifically valuable area near Boulder known as White Rocks is an unusual and fragile Cretaceous sandstone outcropping that is not only aesthetically attractive, containing unusual geological features like polygonal jointing, hummocky "turtlebacks,” and honeycomb hollows, but is also home to numerous common and rare species of plants and animals. Two lichen species have never been documented elsewhere. An extremely diverse habitat spans the short distance from the top of the bluff to the floodplain of North Boulder Creek, 70 to 80 feet below. Constantly exposed to sunlight, the south-facing light-colored sandstone provides the warmest and most protected environment found in the immediate area. Part of the plains grassland region, White Rocks is recognized as a haven for birds as well, and includes federally regulated eagle nesting habitat.
From 1963 until her death in 2002, this parcel was home to early Boulder environmental advocate, Ricky Weiser, and we owe her much for preserving and protecting this exceptional place. When the state wanted to extend McCaslin Blvd. through the area, and a sand and gravel company wanted to mine up to the base of the rock formation, she fought tirelessly for the land. Her decision to keep the riparian wetlands in tact enabled them to absorb the flood waters of 2013 and quickly recover. Boulder OSMP, which had owned a conservation easement and first right of refusal on the property since 1979, purchased it from her heirs in 2011 to prevent development.
To protect the many sensitive natural resources that occur here, White Rocks can only be accessed through permitted research and scheduled educational tours and is otherwise closed to the public. Come with us as we get a rare look at this very special area, led by OSMP Plant Ecologist, Lynn Riedel and lichen enthusiast, Jennifer Frazer.