Little-known ecosystems vital to biodiversity, water, climate

(Editor’s note: This article was written by Tobias Nickel, Nick Catmur, Christopher Kittle, Heather Reineking and Justin Sanchez, graduate students in the Master in Environmental Management program at Western Colorado University.)

In front of us, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hydrologist Andrew Breibart slogs across what from afar might be mistaken for an alpine meadow full of sedges, willow and spruce saplings. A closer look reveals that our group of Western Colorado University students stands on neither solid ground nor water, but something in between.

The ground moves under our feet, and with every step we sink deeper into a thick, mucky substance. Protected by rubber boots, we follow Breibart across the Butterfly Fen, located 30 miles southwest of Gunnison in the San Juan Mountains near the community of Arrowhead.



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