Our Research Programs
RMFI monitors the effectiveness of trail and restoration techniques completed at various project sites to ensure they are functioning as intended and to adapt treatments and techniques for other project locations. All of our research is geared toward gaining a better understanding of how our work is positively impacting the environment.
Citizen Science Program
In 2017, RMFI piloted a new citizen science monitoring program to offer an additional avenue for community volunteers to engage with RMFI. Citizen science is the involvement of the public in community-driven scientific research, and provides a sustainable system for monitoring land stewardship and restoration activities by engaging adult volunteers and college students in the measurement of ecological parameters at RMFI project sites over time.
There are three streams of data collection associated with the RMFI data collection, including monitoring plant communities, measuring trail change over time, and observation of human interaction with closed trails.
If you are interested in training to become a RMFI citizen scientist, please email Maggie Gaddis at [email protected].Learn More!
Garden of the Gods Trail Assessment & Monitoring
In 2018, RMFI completed a trail assessment for the Garden of the Gods Park to evaluate current conditions of the park's trails to better determine work priorities in subsequent field seasons. A massive amount of data were collected, processed, and analyzed to create condition scores for each designated natural surface trail in the Park. In addition, an interactive Google Earth database was created from GIS layers to facilitate field-based usage of the data collected.Learn More About Our Work in the Garden of the Gods
Front Range Pika Project
The Front Range Pika Project (FRPP) is a citizen science program that engages the public in conservation research on the American pika. The project was formed to help address the need for additional research and long-term monitoring to determine what factors currently limit the distribution of American pika in the southern Rocky Mountains, and whether the species can persist in the region as climate change accelerates. Since 2017, RMFI has partnered with the FRPP by monitoring for American pika at its high alpine project site located at the base of Kit Carson Peak in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.Learn more about the FRPP
Willow Propagation Monitoring
Since 2016, RMFI has planted over 4,000 mature willows in several riparian areas that were damaged by the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012. The goal of the project is to restore these damaged riparian areas so they function properly again to provide habitat, flood mitigation, and streambank stabilization. Each spring, RMFI monitors the plantings by assessing mortality rates and taking repeat photographs. To date, extremely low mortality rates (<1%) have been observed as compared to mortality rates resulting from traditional willow staking methods, which exceeded 50% in many cases. Monitoring efforts will continue during the 2019 field season.