Glacier View Meadows Life Zone
The Rockies are characterized by many life zones that change with elevation. GVM lies between the Great Plains (short grass prairie) and the Montane zone that starts roughly above 8,000 feet (near Red Feather Lakes). GVM is in what is commonly referred to as the Foothills or “Transition” zone and is notably dominated by Ponderosa pine.
Like most pines, Ponderosas can thrive in nutrient poor, rocky soils. Trees can be quite stately or short and gnarly depending on the site they are growing in. The oldest trees have orange plated bark and are called “yellow bellies”. Younger pines have dark bark.
During spring, Ponderosa pines will produce copious amounts of pollen for a short period. Don’t be alarmed if you see brown needles in the fall which is when they shed their oldest needles.
Trees generally form an open forest which was historically maintained by frequent ground fires. These fires burned off debris and prepared a seedbed for seedlings. Since people have increasingly settled in the foothills, fires have been suppressed leading to the buildup of fuels and altering the historic cycles.
Creating Defensible Space on your Property
All of us here remember the High Park Fire of 2012 whose scars are still very evident. For information about making your property “defensible” during wildfires, the Larimer County Wildfire website offers a comprehensive set of recommendations and related information.
Another natural event that Ponderosa pines have evolved with is erruptions of the Mountain pine beetle. The vast outbreak of 2009 has since died down. We caution against indiscriminate spraying for beetles when they are not verified as attacking trees because this can be detrimental to beneficial insects and can lead to secondary infections. Click here to learn more about the beetle itself.
They are also subject to the native parasite dwarf mistletoe which can slowly deform and ultimately kill trees. If you are interested in having the trees on your lot inspected for insects or disease, we recommend you contact the County Forester. The county forester can also give advice about planting trees in GVM.
Other Trees in GVM
If you venture into steep, cold canyons you might be able to find a native Blue Spruce (the state tree). Toward the western reaches of GVM you might find some Limber pines. Virtually all of the spruces in GVM have been planted by residents.
Our trees and forest health are a tremendous part of our mountain living experience. Proper care will preserve those and reduce the threats from fire, insects, and infestations.
Additional information can be found on the Speakers page of this website.