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Flora and Fauna Feel the Effects of an Early Spring

Text by Heidi Cullen
Photo captions by Nicole Heller and Heidi Cullen

When you hail from a cold climate like me, spring is something you earn. I suspect year round warm weather is either for the weak or people with good karma. In our neck of the woods, you don’t get to enjoy sunny 70-degree days unless you’ve actually worked for it. This year, I feel like I don’t deserve spring. First of all, there wasn’t much cold from which to be rescued. According to the National Climatic Data Center, winter 2012 will go down as the 4th warmest on record for the lower 48. And the broad geographic scope of this March warmth suggests that this may be an unprecedented event since modern U.S. weather records began in the late 19th century. It turns out certain species are definitely noticing the early warmth as this slideshow explains…


By Bob Berwyn (Frisco Colorado)
on March 21st, 2012

These are some of the most common wildflowers and butterflies in large parts of the Colorado Rockies and we greet them each spring and summer like old friends. It would be sad to lose them. I interviewed the researchers who are studying the aspen fleabane daisies and Mormon fritillary for this story:

And the forests where they live have been hammered by bark beetles. The new research on how warmer spring weather speeds up the life cycle of the bugs is fascinating and telling:

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