Why Be Bothered With Aspen?
Why Be Bothered With Aspen? Because it is in serious decline and it contributes enormously to landscape functionality as well as wildlife habitat.
It is estimated that Wyoming has lost approximately 53% of its historic aspen acreage. Other states, such as Arizona, estimate losses in the 95% range. This is alarming since aspen is one of the more diverse habitat types and provides vital habitat for approximately 200 species of wildlife. Moreover, aspen stands are essential in landscape’s hydrology and are aesthetically appealing to humans.
What is causing the decline? Aspen are disturbance (e.g. fire) dependent and fairly short-lived (100-150 years). Thus, the decline is mostly due to fire exclusion along with other factors such as overbrowsing, human development and possibly climate change.
What’s being done? Land and wildlife managers are investing a lot of time and money in restoring aspen communities. The Conservation Research Center has recently partnered with the Bridger – Teton National Forest (BTNF) and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to inventory, evaluate and make treatment recommendations for over 50,000 ! aspen acres on the BTNF. We are excited to be a partner in restoring and maintaining aspen on our landscapes.
For more on aspen research and aspen ecology go to: http://www.western-aspen-alliance.org.
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