Findings show a variety of species call land home.
After months of collecting data, Sheep Mountain Alliance, the Telluride Institute’s Watershed Education Program and Mountain Studies Institute published the Telluride Valley Floor Wildlife Monitoring 2021 Report on Jan. 23. Throughout 2021, 12 citizen-scientist volunteers and 104 students from Telluride Middle School sorted through 10,234 photos. The report’s purpose was to record elk and wildlife activity on the Valley Floor, as 10 cameras were placed across the area.
“The most important data was the demonstration that elk use the Valley Floor for three of their four most important yearly cycles,” said Garrett Smith, Ph.D., the Telluride Institute’s chief scientist and Watershed Education Program director. Along with the valuable information collected about activity on the Valley Floor, the project focused on encouraging local engagement through a “citizen science program.”
“We were curious on how to engage local people on a science project on the Valley Floor. We’re also curious about the elk behavior on the Valley Floor,” Sheep Mountain Alliance Executive Director Mason Osgood said.
Each camera was “adopted” by a group of volunteers that worked alongside organizers. Every two months last year, a group would go onto the Valley Floor and collect the photos captured during those months. Then, the group would sort through the images, discarding any photos that included people. Groups sorted pictures into sub-folders for each species found on the Valley Floor, as well as folders for unknown images or false triggers.
An article from the Telluride Daily Planet
Eva Thomas, February 17, 2022