Level 4 Potential Conservation Area (PCA) Report
Site Code
Site Class
Site Alias
Network of Conservation Areas (NCA)
NCA Site Code
NCA Site Name
7,960.00 Feet
8,600.00 Feet
2,621.28 Meters
Centrally located in Jefferson County, this site includes a rich forested area in the montane zone with steep and rugged topography. It includes a number of small first order streams that flow north into Casto Creek which follows Kennedy Gulch. The north-facing slopes and drainages contain a diverse array of plant species including many state rare plants. The habitats are varied with willow carrs and wet meadows dominating the vegetation along Casto Creek. The willow community is very thick in some areas along Casto Creek especially further from the roadway. Coyote Creek, one of the north-facing drainages, is an excellent example of a lightly impacted first order stream. The north-facing aspect has likely contributed to the very high biodiversity of the drainage. Blue spruce (Picea pungens), thinleaf alder (Alnus incana) and mature quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) are the dominant tree species along the drainage. The intact floodplain of the upper reaches of Coyote Creek was especially rich in herbaceous growth with a very low presence of non-native plants. The upland vegetation consists of forested hillsides with ponderosa pine ( Pinus ponderosa), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and a rich herbaceous layer in the moist shady areas that included Canada violet (Viola rydbergii), Fendler's waterleaf (Hydrophyllum fendleri), starry false lily of the valley (Maianthemum stellatum), musk-root (Adoxa moschatellina), fairy slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa), Hall's ragwort (Ligularia bigelovii var. hallii), roughleaf ricegrass (Oryzopsis asperifolia), Rocky Mountain sedge (Carex saximontana), blue clematis (Atrogene occidentalis), Hudson Bay anemone (Anemone multifida subsp. globosa), alpine milkvetch (Astragalus alpinus), wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum) and beautiful cinquefoil (Potentilla pulcherrima). The most common upland soils are the Grimstone-Hiwan-Rock outcrop complex, 30-70 percent slopes with lesser amounts of Legault-Hiwan stony loamy sands, 15-30 percent and Rogert-Herbman-rock outcrop complex, 30-70 percent slopes. The soils in the wetland areas and along Casto Creek drainage consist of Rosane-Venable fine sandy loams, 0-3 percent slopes. The soils along Coyote Creek consist largely of Kittredge-Venable complex with 0-5 percent slopes (USDA NRCS 2008). The geology consists of igneous granitic rocks that are 1, 350-1,480 million years old (Tweto 1979).
Key Environmental Factors
The topography, especially the north-facing aspect of the drainages, the unaltered hydrological features and light anthropogenic changes are the significant factors that support the rare plant communities and rare plants that occur in these drainages. The fact the area has not been grazed since the 1960's is also significant.
The nearby weather station at Evergreen between 1961 and 2011 recorded an average annual precipitation of 18.7 inches. Snowfall is greatest in March and April, spring/summer rains peak in April-August. The average annual maximum temperature is 60.7 degrees F (15.9 °C) and the average annual minimum temperature is 27.2 °F (-2.7° C, WRCC 2006).
Land Use History
Livestock grazing and residential developments are common throughout this region. Casto Creek has been impacted by both human and historical beaver activity. Much of the area was a YMCA Camp for many years and portions of the area have not been grazed since the 1960's. Mining activities have occurred in the vicinity. The area along Casto Creek (Kennedy Gulch) is the most heavily impacted by road building, hiking trails, and road maintenance. In addition, there are impoundments created by landowners located just upstream of the site that affect the hydrology of Casto Creek. Beavers were likely important in the past, but no activity was observed in 2011.
Copyright 2015. Colorado State University. Colorado Natural Heritage Program. All Rights Reserved.
Level 4 Potential Conservation Area (PCA) Report
Site Code
Mapped Date
The boundary was drawn to include the known occurrences of two rare plant communities and five rare plants. The potential extent and habitats have been included in the boundary which is based on the immediate watershed which also encompasses intact upland communities. The ecological processes including hydrology, natural migration, pollination and dispersal are also important to the long term existence of these rare plants and rare plant communities. The hydrology, topography, lack of anthropogenic disturbances, especially the lack of livestock grazing, and surrounding characteristics of the landscape are the most significant features supporting the rare plant communities and rare plants. The boundary was digitized while referencing digital color orthophoto quad and a 1:24,000 digital quad.
Primary Area
685.64 Acres
277.47 Hectares
Biodiversity Significance Rank
B3: High Biodiversity Significance Biodiversity Significance Comments
The site supports a good (B-ranked) occurrence of a globally vulnerable (G3/S3) blue spruce / thinleaf alder (Picea pungens / Alnus incana) woodland and a fair (C-ranked) occurrence of a globally vulnerable (G3/S3) Rocky Mountain willow / beaked sedge (Salix monticola / Carex utriculata) riparian willow carr. Rare plant species include a poor (D-ranked) occurrence of an apparently secure globally and state critically imperiled species (G4/S1), Torrey sedge (Carex torreyi), with fewer than five occurrences known from Colorado and a new county record (CNHP 2011). A fair (C-ranked) occurrence of Peck's sedge ( Carex peckii), a state critically imperiled (G4G5/S1) species that is also a new Jefferson County record (CNHP 2011). There is an excellent occurrence of a globally secure but state imperiled (G5/S2) species, Sprengel's sedge ( Carex sprengelii). This is one of only four known populations in the state (CNHP 2011). Two rare plants that are both globally secure but critically imperiled in the state (G5/S1) include the Rocky Mountain sedge ( Carex saximontana) and the variegated scouring rush (Hippochaete variegata). The shaded upper reaches of the drainages were in excellent condition and include healthy mature aspen groves on the floodplains. The concentration of five plant species that are state critically imperiled and two new county records also contributes to the biodiversity significance of this area.
Other Values Rank
Other Values Comments
A small population of a species of conservation concern (CNHP watchlist), wood lily ( Lilium philadelphicum) was documented. Also within the site were four plants that ranked a 10 on the Colorado Floristic Quality Index (Rocchio 2007): musk-root (Adoxa moschatellina), Sprengel's sedge (Carex sprengelii), Peck's sedge (Carex peckii) and Hudson Bay anemone (Anemone multifida). Coefficient of Conservation values range from 0-10 with 10 ranks representing species that are always found in unaltered high quality habitats. In addition, there were fourteen plants that ranked a 7-9 on the Colorado Floristic Quality Index: Arctic raspberry ( Cylactis pubescens), a new Jefferson County record, Torrey sedge (Carex torreyi), Rocky mountain sedge (C. saximontana), softleaf sedge (C. disperma), creepingroot violet (Viola rydbergii), Hall's ragwort (Ligularia bigelovii var. hallii), bush honeysuckle (Distegia involucrata), fairy slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa), sulphur Indian paintbrush (Castilleja sulphurea), roughleaf ricegrass (Oryzopsis asperifolia), false lily of the valley (Maianthemum amplexicaule), Fendler's waterleaf (Hydrophyllum fendleri), wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum) and wood rush (Luzula parviflora). The presence of such a large number of species with high FQI values (7-10) is indicative of the high quality of the habitats where these rare plants were found.
State Scientific Name
State Common Name
Site Rank
Carex peckii Copyright 2015. Colorado State University. Colorado Natural Heritage Program. All Rights Reserved.
Level 4 Potential Conservation Area (PCA) Report
Site Code
Carex saximontana Rocky Mountain sedge Carex sprengelii Carex torreyi Picea pungens / Alnus incana Woodland Montane Riparian Forests variegated scouringrush Salix monticola / Carex utriculata Shrubland Montane Riparian Willow Carr LAND MANAGMENT ISSUES
Land Use Comments
This area is used for recreation and activities include hiking, day camps, frisbee golf and zip lines. There are cabins for overnight guests, a chapel and areas where large community events are held that bring in large numbers of visitors. Horses and dogs are allowed on the trails.
Natural Hazard Comments
The quantity of non-native species in the shaded less disturbed areas were very low. However, in the disturbed areas near roads, on open floodplains, near buildings and trails, the non-native plants were common. Alien plant species included: smooth brome (Bromopsis inermis), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), musk thistle (Carduus nutans), Timothy grass (Phleum pratense), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), hoary alyssum (Berteroa incana), wild mint (Mentha arvensis), common mullein (Verbascum thapsis) and Canada thistle (Breea arvensis). Canada thistle and musk thistle are the only two Colorado B-listed noxious plants noted (Colorado Weed Management Association 2010). Herbicide treatments were occurring in the wetland areas along Foxton Road for Canada thistle control.
Copyright 2015. Colorado State University. Colorado Natural Heritage Program. All Rights Reserved.
Level 4 Potential Conservation Area (PCA) Report
Site Code
Reference ID
Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2013. Biodiversity Tracking and Conservation System (BIOTICS). Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.
Colorado Weed Management Association (CWMA). 2009. Noxious weeds of Colorado.10th Edition.
Rocchio, J. 2007. Floristic quality assessment indices for Colorado plant communities. Prepared for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, Wetlands Program, Denver, Colorado and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8,Denver, Colorado. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Fort Collins, Colorado Rondeau, R., D.G. Anderson and A. Lavender. 2011. Noxious weed monitoring at the U.S. Air Force Academy - Year 6 results. Prepared for the U.S. Air Force Academy Department of Natural Resources. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Smith, P. 2011. CNHP field surveys of Jefferson County.
Smith, P. and P. Little. 2011. CNHP field surveys.
Smith, P. and S. Panjabi. 2011. CNHP field surveys of Jefferson County.
Sovell, J., P. Smith, D. Culver, S. Panjabi and J. Stevens. 2012. CNHP Final Report: Survey of Critical Biological Resources in Jefferson County, Colorado. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Fort Collins, CO.
Tweto, O. 1979. Geologic Map of Colorado, 1:500,000. United States Geological Survey, Department of Interior, and Geologic Survey of Colorado, Denver, CO.
USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. 2008. Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database for Golden Area, Colorado, Parts of Denver, Douglas, Jefferson and Park Counties, Colorado. Fort Worth, TX: United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service.
WRCC. 2011. Western Regional Climate Center. Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute. Reno, Nevada. <>. Accessed 2011.
Quad Code
Quad Name
Upper South Platte Version Date
Copyright 2015. Colorado State University. Colorado Natural Heritage Program. All Rights Reserved.
Level 4 Potential Conservation Area (PCA) Report
Site Code
These data are a product and property of Colorado State University, Colorado Natural Heritage Program(CNHP). These data are strictly "on loan" and should be considered "works in progress". Data maintained inthe Colorado Natural Heritage Program database are an integral part of ongoing research at CSU and reflectthe observations of many scientists, institutions and our current state of knowledge. These data are acquiredfrom various sources, with varying levels of accuracy, and are continually being updated and revised. Manyareas have never been surveyed and the absence of data in any particular geographic area does notnecessarily mean that species or ecological communities of concern are not present. These data should not beregarded as a substitute for on-site surveys required for environmental assessments. Absence of evidence isNOT evidence of absence. Absence of any data does not mean that other resources of special concern do notoccur, but rather CNHP files do not currently contain information to document this presence. CNHP is notresponsible for whether other, non-CNHP data providers have secured landowner permission for datacollected.
These data are provided for non-commercial purposes only. Under no circumstances are data to bedistributed in any fashion to outside parties. To ensure accurate application of data, tabular and narrativecomponents must be evaluated in conjunction with spatial components. Failure to do so constitutes a misuseof the data. The Colorado Natural Heritage Program shall have no liability or responsibility to the data users, orany other person or entity with respect to liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly orindirectly by the data, including but not limited to any interruption of service, loss of business, anticipatoryprofits or indirect, special, or consequential damages resulting from the use of operation of the data. Datausers hereby agree to hold CNHP, Colorado State University, and the State of Colorado harmless from anyclaim, demand, cause of action, loss, damage or expense from or related to data users use of or reliance onthe data, regardless of the cause or nature thereof, and even in the event that such cause is attributable to thenegligence or misconduct of CNHP.
These data are provided on an as-is basis, as-available basis without warranties of any kind, expressed orimplied, INCLUDING (BUT NOT LIMITED TO) WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR APARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. Although CNHP maintains high standards of dataquality control, CNHP, Colorado State University, and the State of Colorado further expressly disclaim anywarranty that the data are error-free or current as of the date supplied Copyright 2015. Colorado State University. Colorado Natural Heritage Program. All Rights Reserved.


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