Starting tomorrow, Aspen Center for Environmental
Studies (ACES) will host the Colorado Natural Heritage Program
(CNHP) for a three-day Bioblitz at Hallam Lake. A Bioblitz is an
intense effort to catalogue as much biodiversity as possible within
a specific geography. From June 25th – June 27th, scientists and
students from CNHP will form individual groups led by experts
before combing Hallam Lake to identify plants, aquatic and
terrestrial invertebrates, birds, and mammals. On Thursday, June
27th from 1PM – 4PM, ACES will host a public open house where the
results of the Bioblitz effort will be presented.

 

One of the lasting benefits of completing a Bioblitz is that it
provides an ecological snapshot in time. Twenty five or even fifty
years from now, ACES Naturalists will be able to look at records
collected from this event and compare them to the current state of
Hallam Lake. As a consequence of climate change and habitat loss,
species are going extinct at 1,000 to 10,000 times the historic
rate. While ACES’ primary mission is to prevent these extinctions
by educating for environmental responsibility, we acknowledge that
they are happening on a daily basis and at a rate where not all can
be prevented. A more complete understanding of local natural
communities will help us to better protect threatened populations,
understand how climate change is impacting our local ecosystem, and
tell the stories of species that once called Hallam Lake
home.

 

Understanding the impact of a global event like climate change can
be difficult, especially when most of the impacts appear abstract
and far away. Connecting climate change to what we’re seeing
locally transforms this issue into something concrete and
actionable. The loss of biodiversity is a crucial part of this
message and can only be told if we are able to determine what
species live here now. 

 

While Hallam Lake is a relatively small area of land, its high
level of protection makes it an important refuge within an area of
human development and activity. Throughout the year, migratory
birds, mule deer, elk, and black bear use the preserve to travel
between watersheds. Resident species enjoy a higher level of
protection from human activity and habitat loss than almost
anywhere else on the landscape. The information gained as a result
of this week’s Bioblitz will help ACES better manage the nature
preserve and inform important restoration work.

 

“Our local ecosystems are changing before our eyes,” said Adam
McCurdy, ACES Forest Programs Director. “It’s depressing, but we
need to accept that climate change is already here. Big impacts
such as beetle outbreaks, forest fires, and aspen decline are easy
to see. In addition to those indicators, we want to know what’s
happening to the building blocks of our ecosystems, such as native
plants and pollinators. In order to understand and prepare for
change, we need to understand where we are right now.”

 

“When we do a Bioblitz, all of the people involved have a chance to
think about biodiversity and learn about it in really meaningful
ways. When we see it and touch it and learn about it, we can start
to understand how biodiversity makes our community richer. We know
that Hallam Lake is a tremendous asset to the entire community. By
understanding the life that inhabits it, we can develop greater
love and appreciation for this resource. Deepening our knowledge
about Hallam Lake’s inhabitants will enable ACES to take care of
this nature preserve in ways that will preserve its wildlife,
plants, and other species for future generations to enjoy,” said
David Anderson, Director and Chief Scientist of CNHP.