Conservation conference at FLC

As demands on the region's resources increase, Four Corners residents find themselves on an increasingly smaller tightrope. Rather than a constant tug-of-war, however, an upcoming conference seeks collaboration in the balancing act between demand and conservation.

The "Conservation Conversation,"  sponsored by the Mountain Studies Institute, is a two-day series of lectures, workshops, panels and discussions meant to facilitate discussion on addressing water and land-use issues. Topics include water conservation, archaeological resources, climate change, public education and economic viability. The conference is geared to local nonprofits, federal agencies, state entities, private landowners as well as the general public.

"The excitement and idea behind the workshop is founded on the concept that as a regional community, we have many decisions that need to be made that are best directed by the use of science-based findings," said Jimbo Buickerood, public lands coordinator with the San Juan Citizens Alliance, which is also participating in the conference. "If we are successful at approaching such in a collaborative manner, we are more likely to generate research that answers the critical questions connected to the issues we face in this time of rapid ecological and social change."

The conference, which costs $45, takes place Tues. - Wed., May 20-21 at Fort Lewis College. Events kick off with a keynote speech by Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, on Tuesday morning. There will be a free public forum, "The Cornerstones of Partnerships: Learning Through a Showcase of Three Regional Partnerships," on Tuesday from 6:30 - 8 p.m. Hosted by former San Juan Forest Supervisor Mark Stiles, the forum will highlight successful local conservation partnerships including the Hermosa Creek Workgroup, Animas Watershed Partnership and San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership.

"Everything is open to the public, and we are encouraging 'citizen scientists' to attend," said Buickerood. "We’re hoping people will show up and point the way toward research needs in the area that will drive policy."

According to Aaron Kimple, project manager for MSI, there are a number of partnerships in the area that bring together politicians, environmentalists, land and resource managers, and recreationists. "These partnerships offer lessons that come from the challenges and successes they have faced; they cross geographic boundaries and management practices," he said.

He hopes those partnerships will strengthen and new ones will grow from the conference. "Are there ways to strengthen, deepen and extend the reach and success of these partnerships? Are there other partnership needs in the Four Corners?" said Kimple. "Answers are not easy, but solutions start with conversation."

For more information, go to www.mountainstudies. org or contact Kimple at akimple@mountainstudies.org or (970)749-7916. 


Powerhouse pulls plug on old name

The Durango Discovery Museum is no longer – at least in name. This week, directors of the nonprofit organization housed in the City's renovated historic AC power plant announced it will henceforth be known the "Powerhouse Science Center."

As a campaign gains steam to upgrade the existing facility and add features such as additional exhibits and an outdoor science park, museum powers that be decided a new name more suited to its mission was needed.

“We believe this name change better reflects what we actually do within our walls and throughout the communities we serve,” Executive Director Chris Cable said. “We focus on science, engineering, math and technology education for all ages with our many interactive programs, demonstrations, lecture series, hands-on exhibits, and regionwide outreach. We’re a constantly moving and ever-evolving science center – hardly a museum under glass.”

The Powerhouse Science Center got its start in 1998 as the Children’s Museum of Durango, leasing space in the attic of the Durango Arts Center. Quickly outgrowing its accommodations there, supporters with plans to feed a growing demand for more science, technology, engineering and math education, secured a lease from the City of Durango to renovate the old plant on Camino del Rio.

After a million-dollar fund-raising campaign, the Durango Discovery Museum opened its doors in the new location in February 2011. However, a troubled economy prevented it from offering its full slate of planned exhibits and meeting its expansion goals.

But as the times improve, these ideas have been  revived. “It’s time we finished what we started,” Powerhouse Board President Bill Luthy said. “We need to make good on our promise to continue enhancing and updating the Powerhouse."

Plans call for new, state-of-the-art exhibits, traveling exhibitions from science centers around the country, improved amenities and creating an ADA-accessible outdoor science park on the plaza. "It’s these changes that are going to make Powerhouse Science Center a true hub for science and innovation," said Luthy. "Rebranding is our first step forward.”

The Powerhouse Science Center will transition fully away from Durango Discovery Museum over the course of 2014. In the meantime, for more information, visit the existing website at www.durangodiscovery.org or call (970) 259-9234.

Missy Votel

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