Today I stumbled upon one of the most beautiful trails! It began when I noticed the massive, slanted rock-type mountains sticking out of the ground (flatirons), which I obviously began to drive towards. Eventually, I came to the end of the road, which conveniently enough was a parking lot at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) right next to a trailhead for the Walter Orr Roberts Nature Trail. The best part - it was all free, and it lead to many more trails!
While I was jogging along this trail, I noticed some signs that are often overlooked by tourists, but have a pretty important significance, "Area closed for re-vegetation, please stay on trail. Protect the environment, stay on trail." On this particular trail, certain areas have been negatively impacted because of flooding. Now scientists and conservationists are conducting a project to try to restore the native plant community within the area.
Floods from 2013 had devastating impacts in the area, causing many trails to wash out and erode. Eroded trails prevent locals and tourists from enjoying the beautiful area for recreation as well as emergency response such as firefighters and search-and-rescue from easy access via the trail system.
Restoration of native plant communities can help prevent events like these from happening by providing a substrate to prevent extreme erosion. The plants grow extensive root structures that hold the soil particles together during heavy storms, so that soil doesn't easily wash away into stream beds and cause trails to wash out. These plants also provide a source of food, shelter, and protection for various birds and animals. This area is home to mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, foxes, mule deer, raptors, and so much more!*
Thus when you see these signs, know that they have a purpose. Wait to take that perfect photo further down the trail. Keep your dogs on a leash. Rest easy knowing that you're doing your part. Enjoy the trails along with the beauty that nature beholds.