Willard, Beatrice, Alpine Tundra Research Plots
View of the tundra near the Forest Canyon Overlook on the Trail Ridge Road
|Nearest city||Estes Park, Colorado|
|Area||less than one acre|
|NRHP reference No.||07001101|
|Added to NRHP||October 25, 2007|
The Beatrice Willard Alpine Tundra Research Plots were established in 1959 along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, above the treeline in an alpine tundra habitat. The plots were used by Beatrice Willard of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado from 1959 to about 1999 in a long-term study of the alpine ecosystem. Willard's dissertation and updates, as well as her book Land Above the Trees: A Guide to American Alpine Tundra were highly influential in studies of alpine and tundra ecology. Her recommendations were used by the National Park Service in its management of the high alpine areas of the park. Willard's work continued after she moved on to other work, and for the last twenty years she made informal visits to the plots.
There are two plots. The Rock Cut Plot is at an elevation of 12,110 feet (3,690 m) near the Rock Cut parking area. The research plot is 5 feet (1.5 m) by 20 feet (6.1 m), within a 50-foot (15 m) by 40-foot (12 m) enclosure. A 3 feet (0.91 m) fence keeps park visitors from disturbing the plot, and is marked by an explanatory sign. An old footpath runs through the plot, and was monitored to establish rates of regrowth on the tundra. The Forest Canyon Plot is at an elevation of 11,716 feet (3,571 m), measuring only 10 feet (3.0 m) square, originally protected by a metal fence. It is close to the Forest Canyon Overlook.
The plots were placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 25, 2007.
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in the U.S. state of Utah near Cedar City. Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater, stretching across 3 miles (4.8 km), with a depth of over 2,000 feet (610 m). The elevation of the rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level.
Rocky Mountain National Park is an American national park located approximately 76 mi (122 km) northwest of Denver International Airport in north-central Colorado, within the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The park is situated between the towns of Estes Park to the east and Grand Lake to the west. The eastern and western slopes of the Continental Divide run directly through the center of the park with the headwaters of the Colorado River located in the park's northwestern region. The main features of the park include mountains, alpine lakes and a wide variety of wildlife within various climates and environments, from wooded forests to mountain tundra.
Kings Canyon National Park is an American national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California. Originally established in 1890 as General Grant National Park, the park was greatly expanded and renamed to Kings Canyon National Park on March 4, 1940. The park's namesake, Kings Canyon, is a rugged glacier-carved valley more than a mile (1,600 m) deep. Other natural features include multiple 14,000-foot (4,300 m) peaks, high mountain meadows, swift-flowing rivers, and some of the world's largest stands of giant sequoia trees. Kings Canyon is north of and contiguous with Sequoia National Park, and both parks are jointly administered by the National Park Service as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Sequoia National Park is an American national park in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California. The park was established on September 25, 1890 to protect 404,064 acres of forested mountainous terrain. Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet (4,000 m), the park contains the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) above sea level. The park is south of, and contiguous with, Kings Canyon National Park; both parks are administered by the National Park Service together as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. UNESCO designated the areas as Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve in 1976.
The tree line is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing. It is found at high elevations and high latitudes. Beyond the tree line, trees cannot tolerate the environmental conditions. The tree line is sometimes distinguished from a lower timberline or forest line, which is the line below which trees form a forest with a closed canopy.
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Mount Evans is the highest peak in the namesake Mount Evans Wilderness in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The prominent 14,271-foot fourteener is located 13.4 miles (21.6 km) southwest by south of Idaho Springs in Clear Creek County, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide between Arapaho National Forest and Pike National Forest.
The San Francisco Peaks are a volcanic mountain range in San Francisco volcanic field in north central Arizona, just north of Flagstaff and a remnant of the former San Francisco Mountain. The highest summit in the range, Humphreys Peak, is the highest point in the state of Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m) in elevation. The San Francisco Peaks are the remains of an eroded stratovolcano. An aquifer within the caldera supplies much of Flagstaff's water while the mountain itself is in the Coconino National Forest, a popular recreation site. The Arizona Snowbowl ski area is on the western slopes of Humphreys Peak, and has been the subject of major controversy involving several tribes and environmental groups.
Walnut Canyon National Monument is a United States National Monument located about 10 mi (16 km) southeast of downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, near Interstate 40. The canyon rim elevation is 6,690 ft (2,040 m); the canyon's floor is 350 ft lower. A 0.9 mi (1.4 km) long loop trail descends 185 ft (56 m) into the canyon passing 25 cliff dwelling rooms constructed by the Sinagua, a pre-Columbian cultural group that lived in Walnut Canyon from about 1100 to 1250 AD. Other contemporary habitations of the Sinagua people are preserved in the nearby Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle national monuments.
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The Coconino National Forest is a 1.856-million acre United States National Forest located in northern Arizona in the vicinity of Flagstaff. Originally established in 1898 as the "San Francisco Mountains National Forest Reserve", the area was designated a U.S. National Forest in 1908 when the San Francisco Mountains National Forest Reserve was merged with lands from other surrounding forest reserves to create the Coconino National Forest. Today, the Coconino National Forest contains diverse landscapes, including deserts, ponderosa pine forests, flatlands, mesas, alpine tundra, and ancient volcanic peaks. The forest surrounds the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff and borders four other national forests; the Kaibab National Forest to the west and northwest, the Prescott National Forest to the southwest, the Tonto National Forest to the south, and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to the southeast. The forest contains all or parts of ten designated wilderness areas, including the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, which includes the summit of the San Francisco Peaks. The headquarters are in Flagstaff. There are local ranger district offices in Flagstaff, Happy Jack, and Sedona.
Alpine Tunnel is a 1,772 ft (540 m) narrow gauge railroad tunnel located east of Pitkin, Colorado on the former Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad route from Denver to Gunnison. At an elevation of 11,523 feet (3,512 m), it was the first tunnel constructed through the Continental Divide in Colorado, and according to the U.S. Forest Service "remains the highest railroad tunnel and the longest narrow gauge tunnel in North America." However, it did not last long in service. Construction began in January 1880 and was scheduled to last for six months but instead dragged on until July 1882, and the line was abandoned in 1910 due to minor damage in the tunnel. Now the tunnel is sealed shut and the remaining trackbed serves as a trail for hikers and bicyclists.
Summit Lake Park is a park located along Mount Evans Scenic Byway about 64 miles (100 km) west of Denver, Colorado. The park is 160 acres (0.65 km²) in size and contains alpine tundra. Land to the east of the lake is in a state of permafrost which helps to prevent drainage of the area. During the summer, the park is filled with wildflowers, some of which have not been found anywhere else outside of the Arctic Circle. The park is named after Summit Lake, the headwaters of Bear Creek.
The ecology of the Rocky Mountains is diverse due to the effects of a variety of environmental factors. The Rocky Mountains are the major mountain range in western North America, running from the far north of British Columbia in Canada to New Mexico in the southwestern United States, climbing from the Great Plains at or below 1,800 feet (550 m) to peaks of over 14,000 feet (4,300 m). Temperature and rainfall varies greatly also and thus the Rockies are home to a mixture of habitats including the alpine, subalpine and boreal habitats of the Northern Rocky Mountains in British Columbia and Alberta, the coniferous forests of Montana and Idaho, the wetlands and prairie where the Rockies meet the plains, a different mix of conifers on the Yellowstone Plateau in Wyoming and in the high Rockies of Colorado and New Mexico, and finally the alpine tundra of the highest elevations.
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Beatrice "Bettie" Willard was an American botanist who specialized in studies on the ecology and botany of high alpine tundra, as well as arctic tundra. Willard's studies influenced public policy with her studies, which centered on plant life at high altitudes. Willard was responsible for the establishment of the Beatrice Willard Alpine Tundra Research Plots above the treeline in Rocky Mountain National Park, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In later years she was an adviser to U.S. presidents Nixon and Ford as the first woman on the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
Research Plot 2, located near Centennial Ave. and 18th St. N. on the North Dakota State University campus in Fargo, North Dakota. The plot was established in 1882 on land that was broken from native prairie sod. It has been sown to spring wheat continuously since that date. The plot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 as Agricultural Research Site, but has historically been known as Research Plot 2.
Research Plot 30, is a historic agriculture site on the North Dakota State University campus in Fargo, North Dakota. When the pioneers broke up the grass prairie sod, flax was usually one of the first crops sown. If flax was sown continuously or with short rotations between subsequent flax crops, the flax became diseased and was called "flax sick" by farmers. The symptoms were wilting and dying flax plants during the growing season. The site is located near Centennial Avenue and 18th Street North. Flax was first planted at the site in 1894 by Professor Henry L. Bolley, a noted researcher in flax botany. By 1900, the flax plants were dead or dying. Bolley identified flax pathogens introduced by the plants themselves as the cause, and further identified resistant plants. Flax breeding programs from all over the world have sent material to NDSU to be tested for resistance to flax wilt in Plot 30.
Cannibal Plateau is a summit in Hinsdale County, Colorado in the United States. The broad 12,533-foot (3,820 m) mountain is located in the San Juan Mountains and within the Powderhorn Wilderness, a protected area managed by the Bureau of Land Management Gunnison Field Office and the Gunnison National Forest.