Pagosa skyrocket photos by Ellen Mayo and Alicia Langton
The Pagosa skyrocket grows on weathered Mancos Shale outcrops at about 7,000 feet elevation in the vicinity of Pagosa Springs in southwestern Colorado. Two known occurrences of the species exist; the largest includes three miles of highway right-of-way and the private properties that extend for about one mile on either side. A smaller occurrence of about 23 acres also includes highway right of way, private, and Bureau of Land Management land.
Sandy Friedley, right , and Karin Freeman were here last week for an assay of current patches and growth of the skyrocket. They are with Ecosphere Enviromental Services. In the next week or two a specialized group will come to study and collect skyrocket seed for future study in how best to proprogate the species.
Why does the Pagosa skyrocket need protection? The primary threat to Pagosa sky rocket is land use changes including commercial, residential, municipal, and agricultural property develop- ment, and associated utility installa- tions and access roads. In addition, nonnative invasive plants (weeds), concentrated livestock use, and the potential effects of climate change may impact the species. Because of its extremely limited distribution, the species is vulnerable to habitat modification and changes in the envi- ronment. Pagosa skyrocket also re- lies on insect pollinators to reproduce. The loss of pollinators and pollinator habitat is considered a threat to this species.
What have we done to recover the Pagosa skyrocket ? Since Pagosa skyrocket was recently listed, conservation and recovery actions are in their beginning phases. However, many efforts to conserve the species began even before the species was listed:
Many local, state, and federal agencies and organizations, as well as privately owned busi- nesses, have been working to- gether to conserve the species.
The US Fish and Wildlife Ser- vice and other agencies have worked with private landowners to implement on – the – ground management and protection.
The Rare Plant Conservation Initiative has developed a Conservation Action Plan for the rare and threatened species in the Pagosa Springs area which outlines needed conservation actions.
What do we need to do to recover the Pagosa skyrocket ? We will develop a Recovery Plan for Pagosa skyrocket in the next few years that will include the following actions deemed necessary to achieve recovery:
Establish conservation areas to protect Pagosa skyrocket habitat and habitat for pollinators.
Establish a management plan to help address threats and protect the species in perpetuity.
Develop propagation and transplantation protocols for future restoration or reintroduction efforts.
Conduct education and outreach in the community.
What can you do to help conserve Pagosa skyrocket? . Funding and assistance may be available to help conserve the species on private and local government lands. Funding opportunities could include costs for fencing, tax credits, or assistance with conservation easements.
Spread the word about this local treasure!