Mountain fens (peat-accumulating wetlands) are groundwater-dependent habitats (i.e. groundwater dependent ecosystems or GDEs) protected under the Clean Water Act and other federal mandates in the United States. There is increasing interest in documenting and monitoring the occurrence and characteristics of fens. In addition to supporting unusual plants, fens are sites of carbon and water storage and long-term ecological stability, since the underlying peat requires thousands of years to accumulate. This report describes 18 fens in the Beartooth Mountains of Wyoming; they were chosen for review because they contain unusually large numbers of rare plants, and have been surveyed or sampled for more than 40 years. Information from the report provides baseline information for future research in the Beartooths, and comparison data for other ranges.
Authors summarized information from past surveys of 18 fens in the Beartooth Mountains of Wyoming, conducted from 1962 to 2009. The cumulative information is presented as a reference that can be used by botanists, wetland ecologists, hydrologists, and soil scientists. While the floristics elements, especially the documentation of rare plant species, are the main focus of the report, information on each fen’s general vegetation types, geology and soils, hydrology, and environmental disturbances, is also reported.
Current and Potential Disturbances on the Beartooth fens: