Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Timmothy Seastedt

Second Advisor

William Bowman

Third Advisor

Daniel Doak

Abstract

Unsanctioned travel routes through the alpine can influence water drainage patterns, cause sedimentation of streams, and rapidly denude organic soils that take decades to accumulate. In 2012, a volunteer driven project permanently closed and restored an 854.44-meter-long section of unsanctioned road along Colorado’s Continental Divide. The restored area was seeded with three native species and then treated with one of two restoration techniques: installing erosion matting or adding supplemental rock cover. Four years later data suggest that the use of matting can reach similar vegetative cover 30 years faster when compared to other studies with degraded sites left untreated. Overall, use of erosion matting increased the mean percent vegetative cover more than use of supplemental rock cover (35% versus 26%, respectively). However, both treatments still had substantially lower average cover than the native areas which averaged 73% cover. Additionally, differences in relative cover, species counts, and litter were found. Overall, two of the seeded species, Trisetum spicatum and Poa alpina, dominated the restored plots while the third species, Deschampsia caspitosa, did not establish in significant numbers. Fescue brachyphylla, Luzula spicata, Poa glauca, and Minuartia biflora were among the volunteer species found in modest numbers on the restored areas and are suggested additions to future restoration seed mixes. Dominant species in adjacent native areas that did not occur in large numbers included Deschampsia cespitosa, but also Kobresia myosuroides, Artemisia scopulorum, Arenaria fendleri, Oreoxis alpina, and Carex rupestris. These latter species may not be appropriate for alpine restorations in relatively dry meadows.

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