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Colorado - Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center

Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center (COPMC)
Serving the States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming

Established: 1975
Size: 269 acres
PMC Operation: Douglas Creek and White River Conservation Districts
Land Ownership: A Colorado nonprofit corporation organized by two Rio Blanco County conservation districts

Off-center test sites, such as this one near Snowmass, CO, help provide information about plant performance for high elevation uses

The Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center (UCEPC) is a non-profit facility owned and operated by two northwest Colorado conservation districts and serves areas of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

National interest in significant deposits of oil-bearing shales, the economical recovery of that oil, and the successful revegetation of the disturbed sites related to oil extraction were the primary factors leading to the establishment of the Center. The Center is located adjacent to the world’s largest known deposit of these oil bearing shales.

The region supports one of the nation’s largest populations of elk and mule deer, and quality winter forage is critical for their survival. Range and wildlife plants must survive drought, range fires, insects, disease, and the encroachment of invasive, non-native plants. Marginal cropland needs plantings to convert them back to permanent vegetation. Abandoned croplands, which are losing water to municipal use, need to be vegetated with plants adapted to changed conditions.

The Center works on revegetation of high elevation sites, to increase productivity of grazing lands in the cold desert, restore riparian zones, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.

The Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center has released and is cooperating in the production of over 18 conservation plants.



Develop suitable products to assist in successful revegetation
  • Conduct field evaluation plantings in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming at elevations ranging from 6,500 to 9,000 feet.
  • Plants developed for high elevations include Garnet Germplasm mountain brome, Wapiti Germplasm bottlebrush squirreltail, and 'San Luis' slender wheatgrass.


Identify, develop and provide products that improve wildlife habitat
  • Developed methods for establishing Maybell Germplasm antelope bitterbrush on critical big game winter range in northwest Colorado and determined suitable plant materials for the elk winter range near Pinedale, Wyoming.
  • The plant selections Long Ridge Germplasm Utah serviceberry, Maybell Germplasm antelope bitterbrush, and 'Timp' Utah sweetvetch are important components of wildlife habitat communities in the Central Rocky Mountains.
  • Profile of the Greater Sage Grouse provides information on the description, distribution, habitat, diet, reproduction, and unique behaviors of sage grouse.


Improve establishment methods and long term productivity of pastures and rangelands
  • Evaluate Indian ricegrass and blue wildrye selections for heavy soils to determine long-term performance in range plantings
  • Suitable products for various range and pasture needs are provided to NRCS field offices and landowners through demonstration plantings at Coyote Draw and Bluebell, Utah, and Boulder County and Harvey Gap, Colorado.
  • Pasture Grass, Forage Legume and Mixed Species Evaluation provides guidance on pasture establishment.

Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center
5538 County Road 4
Meeker, CO 81641
Telephone: 970-878-5003
Fax: 970-878-5004