Established by statute in 1977, the Colorado Natural Areas Program (CNAP) is a statewide program focused on the recognition and protection of areas that contain at least one unique or high-quality natural feature of statewide significance. Designated State Natural Areas contain a wide representation of Colorado’s rare plants and animals, unique plant communities, rich fossil locations, and geological features. State Natural Areas are found on public or private land and are designated through voluntary land management agreements with landowners. Examples of landowners include the Bureau of Land Management, State Land Board, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, Local governments, and more. To learn more about CNAP, please visit our website where you will also find information about specific State Natural Areas located throughout the state.
Volunteers for CNAP are assigned a State Natural Area based on their interests and experience, and will be provided with detailed access and site information by staff. Please note that the many of our Natural Areas are located in remote areas without trails, paved roads, cell service, or other infrastructure. Many sites will require a 4WD, high-clearance vehicle as well as several miles of hiking on steep, uneven terrain.
CNAP volunteers independently monitor their assigned State Natural Area at least once a year, but more often if desired. Volunteers observe and record conditions on the site including, but not limited to, natural disturbances, noxious weed occurrences, and observations of rare flora and fauna. Volunteers submit an annual report and photos to CNAP staff, who passes these on to the appropriate landowner.
Volunteers that are able to commit to long-term site stewardship and with a background in botany, natural resources, vegetation monitoring, geology, or other related fields are encouraged to apply.
Volunteers commit to making at least one monitoring visit per year, but are welcome to visit more often. The time spent will vary depending on Natural Area location and where the volunteer lives - you may spend a few hours to many days including overnight stays. We ask that our volunteers commit to monitoring their site annually for a minimum of three years, preferably longer.
Volunteers will develop skills as a naturalist and will get to see firsthand some of the most special, sensitive, and scenic places in the state of Colorado. Volunteers benefit from knowing that they are playing a crucial role in the ongoing monitoring