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.
Trail Assessment and Condition Surveys
Trail Assessment and Condition Surveys (TRACS) is the Forest Service’s required methodology for conducting trail inventory, condition assessment and prescriptions for National Forest System trails. The TRACS program is an essential tool that helps land managers identify priorities and assess impact across public lands. Beginning in the fall of 2021, RMFI will assist our local Forest Service partners in collecting trail inventory data in the Pikes Peak region. The data collected from condition surveys provides current, accurate information that is used for Forest Service program planning, budget, reporting, and information needs at all levels of the agency. Read more about TRACS and find the TRACS user guide at the link below.
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.
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. Current monitoring efforts include ongoing 90-day assessments of restoration, maintenance and closure projects.
Colorado 14er Hiking Use
Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) has been collecting user data on Colorado’s 14,000+ ft. peaks since 2014. CFI has deployed infrared trail counters on primary summit routes to 21 of Colorado’s tallest peaks. Over the last several years RMFI has provided assistance in collecting user data from trail counters located on the two primary summit routes to Pikes Peak; the Barr Trail and the Devils Playground Trail. For more information about the data collection program and to see hiking use reports, please visit the link below.