HISTORY AND USE
During fall and spring of every school year, Durango Nature Studies brings "Children Discovering Nature" (CDN) to thousands of children in southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico. CDN, the cornerstone of Durango Nature Studies' educational efforts, is a two-part program that incorporates standards-based classroom and field science learning opportunities.
As participants in this program, students first receive a 60-minute classroom lesson about a natural history topic. One week later, students spend the morning investigating that topic outdoors at the Durango Nature Center. This outdoor exploration is the key to CDN. Small groups of children, guided by trained naturalists, explore first hand the topics, ideas, and curricula introduced by classroom teachers.
Each summer, DNS offers numerous Summer Programs. The Nature Center is heavily used during 5 weeks of Summer Camp for ages 6-11, a Middle School Backpacking Camp for ages 12-15, and numerous Field Trips from area daycare providers.
The Nature Center also hosts many Adult and Family Programs It is used for open houses and workshops on various natural history topics throughout the year for members and the community.
The Nature Center is also open to many Research Projects. Many of these projects are spearheaded by college professors and wildlife biologists. It also provides a place for service projects and trail work. As a community resource, the Durango Nature Center provides a venue for secondary education exploration and is a learning laboratory for many areas of scientific inquiry.
The Durango Nature Center, near Bondad, was acquired by Durango Nature Studies in June of 1998. As part of the negotiations to acquire the land, as well as the goals of the organization, all of the acreage of the site was placed under a conservation easement.
The upper 35 acres of the site is comprised
of public access and parking area, prairie dog colonies,
bird boxes, a children's
habitat play space, an ancient ponderosa pine cross-section
with marked rings, xeriscaped landscaping, and a sage-rabbitbrush
A footpath leads visitors down to 105 acres along bordering the Florida River. There, trails wander through a wide variety of habitats - riparian, meadows, oak woodlands, piñon-juniper forests, and desert arroyos. Trails are marked with signs at ending points and junctions, as well as with interpretive markers and maps along the way.
Many groups have helped make the site as enjoyable and versatile as it is today. Most notably, the Lions Club paid to construct a beautiful all-season pavillion where most of our programs gather. BP America donated the money for a Welcome Building to be built in the upper parking lot. The High Noon Rotary Club donated a footbridge that crosses the Florida River and leads to the heart of the site. In addition, school projects and eagle scouts have contributed various things such as a solar water pump and a floating dock in our pond. The Nature Center is truly a community resource.
Prior to the Durango Nature Studies' purchase,
the land had been used for many things, including a gravel
pit on the top 35 acres, oil and gas development on both
the upper and lower portions (which are still active), and
cattle grazing. There is also an established archeological
The Nature Center is open to the public on Saturdays from May through October. It is closed during the week since it is used primarily as an outdoor learning laboratory for our school programs and summer camps. It is also open for our many Workshops and Open Houses that allow the public to visit, explore our extensive trail system, and learn about a particular topic.