In 2020 I began a project documenting and researching the changes happening with alpine wildlife and the alpine biome’s general health in the San Juan Mountain Range. These changes I’m capturing are created by both climate change, and increased outdoor recreation. This project began as a way for me to share what I was experiencing as someone who spends roughly 30hrs above treeline every week May-October each year. Meaning, I spend so much time in the alpine! And I thought what I was observing and experiencing was important. I had been solely working with the American Pika, but my shift broadened a bit. They are not the only alpine creature being greatly impacted by our changing planet.
I spent 2021 tracking herds of mountain goats through the San Juan Mountains and observing regions of alpine that are never explored vs. the regions that are heavily explored. There are very obvious differences in how these landscapes look, based on human behavior. And those differences impact the wildlife calling the alpine home very much. I think with more data, we might find humans are impacting these places nearly as much as climate change.
While planning my work for 2022, me and my partner decided that we would bite off the biggest project of our lives thus far: A film about how alpine biomes and the critters living in them are being impacted by climate change and increased outdoor recreation. And what we *as individuals* can do to help lessen the impacts of our outdoor-recreation-footprint. Actionable things that actually matter and can start becoming outdoor habits immediately. This film is intended to be beautiful, educational and hopeful. It will follow me through three seasons of living outside in the alpine, doing my work.
At the end of my work seasons, this film will be put together. We will be putting out the film along with a companion paperback book of the three seasons of my work at the end of this year. Very likely with a showing and screening at the Durango library and possibly even at Rocky Mountain National Park’s Alpine Visitor Center!
This is an important story to tell right now, because it is happening right now. And we have the ability to slow these changes if we begin working at it now. Outdoor recreation has never boomed this big. Each year since the pandemic began, National Parks have shattered the previous record for folks visiting. Outdoor rec has seen a 20% growth rate since 2020, which is enormous when it comes to proper outdoor ethics, potential for destruction and the money coming into each state via outdoor rec. This means it is key to get information about Leave No Trace and actionable ways to help the planet out there to people playing outside! Especially the people who are part of that 20% growth- they may have no information about outdoor ethics and I feel my film project would be such a fun, simple and captivating way to educate them.
I am the right person to tell this story. My voice is taken seriously in the outdoor industry, conservation and photography. I have a large platform and have built my audience with honesty and reliability. I am able to bridge the gap between scientists and outdoor enthusiasts. Making science fun and adventure educational. I am a trusted storyteller and have a very unique voice as a woman who is autistic and who has given her life to the conservation of the alpine. But all that aside, I am beyond passionate about my work. And I feel it is contagious. And you know what they say… if you can get folks to love something, they’ll protect it! That is my aim in everything I do. I get people to love the mountains and the animals in them, specifically, alpine regions and alpine animals!
If I receive this grant, it will fund new equipment. I have a major need for new memory cards, polarizing filters, a new (used) wide lens and hard drive space. Most everything else, I am able to procure in some way that does not require money. But the items I’ve listed are just plain challenging to round up funds for. And they are super important to my work and this big film project! This grant would be incredibly helpful to me in many ways. When I think of $2500, I think of the things I could immediately procure that would solve so many troubles. That would be an enormous gift.
I appreciate your time and consideration deeply and respectfully.