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Beatrice Willard Alpine Tundra Research Plots

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  • Beatrice Willard Counts Plants at Her Plots

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    In 1959 Beatrice Willard established Alpine Tundra Research Plots near the Rock Cut parking area and the Forest Canyon Overlook along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Her research at the plots led to changes in park policies as well as a better understanding of alpine tundra ecology.
    Beatrice Willard Counts Plants at Her Plots
  • New Tundra Policies

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    As a result of Willard's research, Rocky Mountain National Park implemented new policies to protect the delicate alpine tundra. Here a ranger escorts visitors who have gone off-trail near Willard's Forest Canyon Overlook plot.
    New Tundra Policies
  • Paved Paths Prevent Shortcutting

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    One of Willard's major recommendations was the construction of paved paths at heavy-use parking areas and overlooks such as Rock Cut (pictured here) to prevent visitors from forging their own shortcuts across the alpine tundra.
    Paved Paths Prevent Shortcutting

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References: 

Jerry J. Frank, Making Rocky Mountain National Park: The Environmental History of an American Treasure (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2013).

Cheri Yost and Chase Davies, “Willard, Beatrice, Alpine Tundra Research Plots,” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (June 2007).

Ann H. Zwinger and Beatrice E. Willard, Land Above the Trees: A Guide to American Alpine Tundra (New York: Harper and Row, 1972).

Additional Information: 

C. W. Buchholtz, Rocky Mountain National Park: A History (Boulder: Colorado Associated University Press, 1983).

Bettie E. Willard and Chester O. Harris, Alpine Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains, rev. ed. (Estes Park, CO: Rocky Mountain Nature Association, 1976).