Restoring the Skipper's Habitat

The objective of long-term restoration was to return a healthy ecology to landscapes unlikely to recover naturally. One example of the Upper South Platte Project was to improve the habitat of the Pawnee montane skipper a small, delicate butterfly native to the area.

Pawnee montane skipper habitatPawnee montane skipper

The fires of 2002 alone burned 39 percent of known skipper habitat in the Upper South Platte area, putting tremendous stress on an already sensitive species. As part of restoration activities, foresters planted purple prairie gayfeather (Liatris punctata) in the area. The Liatris plant is essential to the survival of the butterfly. Forest management efforts to restore the butterfly’s habitat were quite successful, and the local population of the skipper increased over 14-fold in the treated area. Skippers inhabit dry, open ponderosa pine forests between 6,000 and 7,000 feet and one of the only known habitats for the skipper covers 38 square miles along the South Platte River.