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Colorado Native Plant Society

Article by: Chris Canaly (SLVEC Director) Date: October 17, 2023

A few weeks ago, (9/23-24), the SLV Ecosystem Council supported through sponsorship the Colorado Native Plant Society conference at Adams State University, “Flora of the San Luis Valley: History, Culture, and Science”. It was a well-attended event, bringing in plant specialists from throughout Colorado, which also featured a number of field trips to various locations throughout the SLV.

All presentations could also be viewed virtually, but ASU Richardson Hall was full of interested participants. Some of the speakers included Dr. Kristy L. Duran, who is a sixth generation native to the San Luis Valley. As a professor at Colorado Mesa University she worked with the CSU Extension Office to create the Ute Ethnobotany Garden. As a professor of biology at Adams State University for 10 years, she pursued her interest in ethnobotany and recently wrote a chapter on the ethnobotany of the San Luis Valley.

Dr. Kate Schoenecker, gave a presentation on Plant responses to herbivory by elk and bison. Dr. Schoenecker has been studying the ecology of ungulates for 25 years as a Research Wildlife Biologist at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center. She received her PhD from Colorado State University on bison and elk grazing ecology in the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Baca National Wildlife Refuge ecosystem.

The Keynote was presented by Arnold Clifford: Plants and plant use of the Navajo nation. He engaged the audience in a conversation about indigenous people and plants, and how the knowledge and medicines therein give us the greatest insights into our own well-being and our place here on Earth. Arnold uses his training as a geologist, botanist, ethnobotanist and as an authority on Navajo history and culture, to bring indigenous knowledge into present day understanding of plant evolution. Arnold started studying plants at the age of 10 years. His maternal grandmother, Sarah Charley, was instrumental in teaching Arnold his first lessons in Navajo ethnobotany. He was first taught about edible plants followed by helping his grandmother to collect native plants for creating different colored dyes for natural wool that his grandmother carded and spun to create wonderful woven rugs. He shared humorous stories and a strong sense of place towards the discovery and acknowledgement that plants are a welcome companion and their various components provide immeasurable benefits to our human needs and lasting vitality.

Please check out the CO NPS website, they have so much going on.

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