As the leaves begin to fall and monitoring season comes to a close, we wanted to say thank you for an amazing summer season!
We kicked off summer in the San Juans with our Southwest Stewardship Series in which a variety of experts led landowners and community members through topics ranging from creating pollinator habitat to mitigating noxious weed populations. Guest speakers from the Xerces Society, Animas Biological Studies, and Mountain Studies Institute traveled from near and far to provide on-the-land educational experiences to participants. This program was supported by generous landowners who hosted us on their properties, and funded by Great Outdoors Colorado.
Music was another centerpiece of the summer. We rang in the summer solstice with Jeff Solon’s Swinging Band, were serenaded by the Kirk James Blues Band as part of the Community Concert Series, and the Ska Brewer’s Party concluded the summer with a lively crowd of Ska music connoisseurs and conservation supporters.
We completed the Weaselskin Conservation Easement (read more below) and made considerable progress on two additional easements that will close in the coming months.
We are grateful to the volunteers, landowners, artists, donors, sponsors and supporters who make our mission to protect open spaces possible. May we all share in the glory of this golden season and reflect back on an impactful summer of love for the land!
Happy fall from two fuzzy conservation easement residents
Durango Wild Soul Finds a Home at Weaselskin
This week we spoke with Ashley Grandkoski about Durango Wild Soul, a land-based, community-centric program for kids and their families that has just found its homebase at Weaselskin, a property recently conserved though La Plata Open Space Conservancy. Grandkoski, serving as the Executive Director at Durango Wild Soul, took some time to tell us about their programming and how this conserved property plays a vital role in their work.
Weaselskin sits on the ancestral land of the Nuuchiu (Ute) people and is connected to the communal and ceremonial spaces of the Pueblos of New Mexico, Diné (Navajo) Nations, Jicarilla Abache (Apache), and Hopi Sinom (Hopi) nations.
What makes Weaselskin a good fit for Durango Wild Soul?
“We are excited about and appreciate Weaselskin for a number of reasons. The main thing we were looking for was access to wild land within a reasonable distance from town and easily accessible in all seasons. Weaselskin fits all these requirements, with the added benefit of providing a large amount of space and a variety of landscapes. This is very valuable for the work we are doing in that it allows for for a range of experiences and activities, from forest exploration, to animal tracking, to crafting and ancestral skills to running and games. On this land, we can choose to hang out close to home-base, or hike, wander and explore over distances. As we are a year-round program, we were also looking for a place with the option of shelter, and Weaselskin provides well for us in that regard.
In addition to these basic elements, the power of the land itself and the connection to ancestral peoples adds special meaning and importance to our very place-based and earth-honoring curriculum. Overall, we love the potential, variety, uniqueness and meaning the land holds and are excited to see how our relationship with it unfolds in the coming year.”
How does Weaselskin play into the growth of Durango Wild Soul in years to come?
“As we sink our roots into the land, we have big plans to expand our program and offerings, and feel that the amount of space [at Weaselskin], in combination with the variety of landscape, will support us in that growth. Next year, we plan to add a class for younger children (ages 4-6), as well as adding additional days per week to our program for 7-12-year-olds (which is currently at two-days-per-week). In the longer term vision, we also want to expand our offerings for teens, providing both group programming, as well as apprenticeship opportunities.
On the larger scale, our big vision is to build a community-centric, multi-age, land-based program where children (and their families) are given the opportunity to tap into ancestral and earth-centric ways of being, learn skills that develop the whole person, and honor the value inherent in themselves, others and the more-than-human realm. In addition to our normal, weekly programming, we seek to facilitate community-wide celebrations and earth-based rituals, including the marking of the seasons, group ceremony and meaningful rites-of-passage. Our core motivation is not just education and connection to nature, but a re-connection to the ways of life that have supported us as a species throughout most of our history as humans. Connection to land is such an important piece of this equation, so we are grateful to have found a meaningful place in which to base our operations.”
Thanks for the interview, Ashley! We love hearing about community and collaboration on the land.
LPOSC is excited to announce that Leah Coe has been promoted into a new permanent position as GIS and Programs Coordinator with our organization. In her new role, Leah will update GIS records critical for our new and existing conservation easements, continue to play a key role in our fundraising and communications efforts, and help build out our education and land access programming. Leah has been working with our organization for the past year, so we are thrilled to add her permanently to our growing team. Congratulations, Leah!
La Plata Open Space Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Your gift may be tax deductible. Our EIN number is: 84-1204273.