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Did you know Telski is home to five unique wetlands called fens? Fens are a type of wetland that provides a safe home for rare plants, small animals and insects. They’re also highly beneficial to humans, as they are sites for groundwater discharge.

Dr. David J. Cooper and Eduardo Oyague from Colorado State University (CSU), along with Dr. John Hribljan and Kate Miller of the University of Nebraska Omaha, will talk about the uniqueness of fen ecosystems at the Wilkinson Public Library tonight (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. The public can also meet the presenters Saturday morning in Mountain Village for a field trip at 9 a.m. to see a fen up close and personal. This week’s events are a collaboration between Telluride Institute’s Watershed Education Program, Telski and the Wilkinson Public Library.

“I think it’s a type of ecosystem and has a range of biodiversity that many people may not know exists in the area. When you travel around you see a lot of forests and alpine tundra, but these are very specialized wetland types right there as well. They support a lot of really interesting species, both plants and insects,” said Cooper, senior research scientist and scholar professor at CSU.

Tonight, Cooper will present information and data regarding 22 years of work studying the fens in the Telluride region. In 1998, the ski area wanted to expand into Prospect Basin, where the five fens are located. He explained a group of people in the town were concerned about the expanded development and the impact it would have on the wetlands.

The resort called on Cooper because he had been working on wetland restoration with the resort since the early 1990s and has worked on fen hydrology and ecology all over the world.

“They invited me to lead this scientific study of fens and work with them on the development of Prospect Basin and the ski runs to make sure that there were no impacts and to do the monitoring to demonstrate that there were limited or no impacts to these fens from the development of the ski infrastructure,” Cooper said.

Research began in 2000, and the ski runs in Prospect Basin were constructed in 2001.

The talk will focus on the current work on the fen hydrologic process and the importance of the monsoon and winter snowpacks importance surrounding the fen water tables.

Read more here…

An article from the Telluride Daily Planet
Eva Thomas, August 10, 2022

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