Environmental Management

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 230–236 | Cite as

Impacts of Recreation Trails on Exotic and Ruderal Species Distribution in Grassland Areas Along the Colorado Front Range

  • Aaron P. PotitoEmail author
  • Susan W. Beatty


This study examines the establishment patterns of exotic and ruderal species along trail corridors in grassland areas of the Colorado Front Range. The effects of trail presence, trail age, and trail traffic levels on exotic and ruderal species establishment are explored to ascertain the potential impacts of trails on surrounding vegetation. Established trails exhibited a greater presence of exotic and ruderal species along the immediate trailside, showing that disturbed trailsides tend to encourage the growth of these species over time. Furthermore, the established trails exhibited significantly less native, nonruderal, and overall species richness at the trailside. These trailside patterns did not show a significant spread away from the trail edge, even after prolonged time periods. Finally, higher trail use tended to hasten the establishment of exotic species along the trailside. The trails did not introduce new species to the recreation areas; rather they acted as reorganizational tools for species that were already present in the study sites.


Recreation trails Exotic species Ruderal species Grassland Trail impacts Colorado 



Funding for this research was provided by the Colorado Mountain Club Foundation and a Dean’s Small Grant from the University of Colorado. The study areas were located on Boulder County Open Space and City of Boulder Open Space land. We would like to thank Cindy Owsley from Boulder County Open Space, and Lynn Reidel and Laurie Deiter from City of Boulder Open Space for their time and assistance in the site selection process. We would also like to thank the University of Colorado Herbarium staff for their help with species identification.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography University of California–Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of ColoradoColorado USA

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