Weminuche Audubon Chapter meeting to explore what’s happening on Jackson Mountain


By Jean Zirnhelt
Weminuche Audubon Society

 Increasingly catastrophic wildfire is becoming a part of the landscape of the American west. Smokey skies here are a reminder of the danger wildfire poses to us. 

In last week’s SUN, conservation biologist Pepper Trail wrote in his article, “Fanning the flames in Oregon,” “The present we are now enduring is the climate-change future that we have been warned about for decades.”

At this month’s online meeting, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m., the Weminuche Audubon chapter will host a presentation on Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change, an experimental project designed to determine best forest management practices in the face of a warming climate and increased fire danger. One of these trials is being conducted here on Jackson Mountain.

Our presenters are Matthew Tuten and Dana Hayward. 

Tuten is a silviculturist and a timber program manager for the Pagosa Ranger District and Columbine Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest (Wolf Creek Pass to just east of Durango). He’s been with the San Juan National Forest for just over five years. Prior to moving to Pagosa Springs with his wife and two children, he was a forester on the Ouray Ranger District of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests in Montrose, Colo., where he worked in mixed-conifer forests, similar in many ways to the forests on Jackson Mountain. Before working for the Forest Service, he contributed to forest restoration research at Northern Arizona University and also completed a graduate thesis on management guidelines for the northern goshawk in southwestern national forests. 

Hayward is the partnership coordinator for Mountain Studies Institute and San Juan Forest Health Partnership, two area organizations working to protect our forests. By bringing diverse stakeholders together, the group works to identify and prioritize forest health projects that protect our community while improving forest health and ecosystem function. 

A native Coloradan, Hayward has lived in Pagosa Springs since 2013. In her position as partnership coordinator at the Mountain Studies Institute, she serves as the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership coordinator and supports coordination activities for other collaborative groups in Southwest Colorado and Northern New Mexico. She loves the work she does to support collaborative processes that impact natural resource and landscape management; the committed partners she gets to work with are who truly make her job awesome. A background in education, agriculture and marketing lend unique perspectives to her work, while her facilitation, project management and communication skills support the work of MSI and its partners. Hayward holds an M.Agr. in agricultural resource management, and an M.Ed. in culturally and linguistically diverse education.

For the past two summers, members of the local Weminuche Audubon Chapter have conducted a citizen science survey designed to determine the effects of different fire prevention treatments on bird populations. These surveys have taken place in ponderosa pine areas of the national forest at locations on Turkey Springs, Fawn Gulch and Jackson Mountain and complement the studies of the Adaptive Silviculture trials.

All interested parties are invited to join us in what promises to be an informative evening. For a Zoom link to join the meeting, see the Events tab on our website, www.weminucheaudubon.org.