Though considered a small property in Intermountain West terms, Fleur Creek Farm is incredibly diverse with four unique habitats.
Sub-alpine Wetlands: Found in the northwest corner of the farm and dominated by blue spruce and Engleman spruce, this unusual wetland, known as the Brush Creek Fen, is on a shallow ridge between North and South Brush creeks, yet does not receive water from either creek. Rather, underground springs slowly release water into the fen’s upper wet meadows, forming small freshets that finger through the lower meadows. The waters likely remain perched on the higher ridge due to an impermeable subsurface lens.
In 2003, we voluntarily enrolled the wetlands in the Colorado Natural Areas Program which identifies unique lands in the state. This wetland is home to several endangered plant species and provides important shelter and food resources for a number of wildlife species from elk and bear to songbirds.
Mountain Wetlands: Narrowleaf cottonwood, mountain alder and river birch make up the majority of large species along the water courses of the farm. Numerous shrubs such as Rocky Mountain maple, reg-twig dogwood, twinberry and gooseberry form an understory along with lush grasses and wildflowers.
The wetlands, with their unique mixture of terrestrial and aquatic resources, provide abundant food and protective cover for a diversity of native wildlife making them a species-rich ecosystem. These sensitive areas are fenced off from the meadows to prevent any damage from livestock grazing.
Mountain Meadow: Encompassing the eastern half of the farm, the meadow is used mainly for rotation grazing. This area includes both sub-irrigated and irrigated portions and supports a rich diversity of grasses, forbs and flowers which provide critical resources for many species. The meadow edge is especially important to species like elk, rabbits, chipmunks, and bluebirds who like to forage in the meadows close to the protection of the adjacent forest.
Ponderosa pine Forest: The farm's ponderosa pine forest was heavily logged in the 1960s and is slowly recovering from those effects. Trees that were left then are now reaching full size while many young trees are filling in to provide a good multi-storied forest. Combined with the understory shrubs and grasses, the ponderosa pine forest hosts a diversity of wildlife from the seasonal grazers like deer and elk to the year-round residents such as wild turkey, chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches.
We use the forest sparingly for sustainable firewood collection to intermitent grazing.