Telluride Institute: Living Classroom, Wildlife on Valley Floor, 8/7

Telluride Institute: Living Classroom, Wildlife on Valley Floor, 8/7

Everyone in the community, locals and guests alike, is invited to join the Telluride Institute’s Watershed Education Program staff for the fourth summer Valley Floor Living Classroom, Tuesday, August 7, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. If you plan to attend the FREE event to study the diversity of wildlife on the Valley Floor, please contact Vicki Phelps, Watershed Education Program co-director, at or call 928-600-5926 to reserve your spot. If you have a smart phone, please bring it. Also bring binoculars (extras will be available), water, snacks, rain gear, and wear hiking shoes. Participants  meet at 9 a..m. at the SW corner of the RV parking lot on the east side of the Telluride Valley Floor. After the  hike, those interested in more birding will venture to the town park beaver pond area for more.

Interested in getting to know the diversity of birds and other wildlife of the Telluride area? Join the experts on Tuesday, August 7, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for the fourth and final FREE Valley Floor Living Classroom session. The Telluride Institute’s Watershed Education Program hosts the event (visit, which targets high school students to adults. Younger children are welcome if accompanied by a parent.

Eric Hynes, a professional birding guide, who conducts birding trips worldwide, and other stellar birding experts, will begin with a bird walk along the east end of the Telluride Valley Floor. Participants will be given a personal birding checklist, which they are welcome to keep.

Soleil Gaylord, a recent graduate of Telluride High School, is an amazing citizen scientist. She will share her wealth of knowledge about prairie dogs, which she has researched extensively during Pinhead and Valley Floor Living Classroom internships.

Scouting on the Valley Floor with Soleil Gaylord & friends.

Sean Streich, an ecology and evolutionary biology graduate student from CU-Boulder, will share about his research, including an analysis of the DNA of colonies of prairie dogs to identify genetic relatedness, etc.

Sean and Soleil are also very knowledgeable about native plants and pollinators and the crucial role they play in that ecosystem.

The Mountain Studies Institute staff has been conducting long-term wildlife monitoring of the Valley Floor for the Town of Telluride. Representatives will be on hand to share information about their monitoring of elk, river otters, beavers, and more. They have also been recording observations on pika and bighorn sheep populations in the San Juan Mountain region and will share the ways scientists are monitoring species to determine their overall populations, patterns of activity, ecology, and the impact of climate change and other factors.

Elk with calves on the Valley Floor.

The tour is a unique opportunity to learn how everyone can make a contribution by doing some citizen science wildlife monitoring of their own. Participants will go away with tools they need to report wildlife sightings on eBird, iNaturalist, and CitSci.


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