New York Natural Heritage Program
Open Alpine Community

Threats [-]
The vegetation of the open alpine community is fragile because of shallow, nutrient-poor soils, a short growing season, and harsh microclimate conditions, thus the primary threat is recreational overuse that involves the trampling of fragile vegetation. Communities that occur at higher elevations in the state (e.g., >3,000 feet) may be more vulnerable to the adverse effects of atmospheric deposition and climate change, especially acid rain and temperature increase. Unprotected examples of open alpine community may be threatened by development (e.g., communication towers) and recreational overuse (e.g., hiking trails, camp sites, ski slopes, and to a lesser extent ATV use).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Management should focus on activities that help maintain regeneration of the species associated with this community. Continue restoration efforts for severely trampled sites. Management activities should be consistent with recommendations presented in the High Peaks Wilderness Unit Management Plan (NYS DEC 1999).

Development and Mitigation Considerations [-]
Construction of structures and trails should minimize the disturbance and subsequent erosion of the thin soils on which this community depends. Prioritize siting such development over open bedrock when possible.

Inventory Needs [-]
A statewide review of alpine and high elevation (>3,000 feet) communities is desirable. Need quantitative data and monitoring plots within the open alpine community; need more work on lichens, bryophytes, and characteristic fauna.

Research Needs [-]
Research the long-term combined effects that atmospheric deposition and climate change may have on the open alpine community. Compare the open alpine community in New York with types described in NH and VT (e.g., Sperduto and Cogbill 1999).

Rare Species [-]