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High Country Speaker Series

Yesterday and Today, a series of presentations focused on change in the Rocky Mountains.

Throughout the years, the high country has seen its populations grow, its citizens flourish, and its rivers continue to flow. Join the Eagle Valley Library District and Walking Mountains Science Center as they celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the High Country Speaker Series with a look back at how far we have come and the changes we have encountered as we prepare for the future in the high country.

The High Country Speaker Series is a partnership between the Eagle Valley Library District and Walking Mountains Science Center with the mission of encouraging environmental awareness, inspiring positive relationships with the natural world, and creating thought provoking dialogue in our community through FREE dynamic programming. 

These programs are FREE to attend, all ages welcome!

2017 Topics

Crocodiles and Ice: A Journey into Deep Wild

Monday, April 17, 2017 | 5:30pm
Presenter: Jon Turk
Location: Walking Mountains Science Center

Jon Turk
Discussion Highlights: National Geographic nominated Erik Boomer and Jon Turk as “Top Ten Adventurers of the Year” for their polar expedition to circumnavigate Ellesmere Island. The book, Crocodiles and Ice chronicles this passage, but, more critically, it reflects on his lifelong journey from suburban Connecticut into a passion for Deep Wild, an ancient passage, repeated — in one form or another — a zillion times, and ignored just as often.

Turk invites his readers to listen to our ancient ancestors, the poets of the ‘60s, a wolf that lingers, a Siberian shaman, a Chinese bicycle nomad, a lonely Tlingit warrior laying down to die in a storm, and the landscapes themselves. Because beyond the wondrous and seductive opulence of our oil-soaked, internet-crazed, consumer-oriented society, there lies a glorious and sustainable lifestyle that is based on Deep Wild as a foundation of solace, sanity, compassion, and hope.

Speaker Biography: Jon received his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1971 and worked in theoretical research and then in environmental education. As an adventurer, Jon has kayaked across the North Pacific and around Cape Horn, mountain biked through the Gobi desert, made first climbing ascents on Baffin Island, and first ski descents all over the world. His circumnavigation of Ellesmere with Erik Boomer was nominated in 2012 by National Geographic as one of the world’s “Top Ten Adventures of the Year”.

Jon’s world-view was transformed through his five year friendship with Moolynaut, a 100 year old Siberian shaman.  This physical and mental adventure is chronicled in The Raven’s Gift. Jon’s newest book, Crocodiles and Ice: A Journey into Deep Wild represents a continuing exploration of a Consciousness Revolution based on a deep, reciprocal communication with the Earth. Learn more about his adventures and books here.

Previous Discussions

A Century of Changing Rivers

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 | 5:00pm
Presenter: Jonathan Waterman
Location: Walking Mountains Science Center

Special 15th Annual Kickoff Celebration: Doors open at 5:00 pm for an early celebration of the High Country Speaker Series’ 15th year, with generous donations from New Belgium Brewing. All ages welcome.

Jonathan Waterman headshot

Discussion Highlights: “A Century of Changing Rivers” is based on Jonathan Waterman’s journey of discovery down the Colorado River, which led him to explore and extensively photograph rivers throughout the southwest. His conclusion, from several years of road tripping combined with river running and chasing down early photographs, is that naturally wet pre-20th Century conditions—long before the modern phenomenon of climate change—made the southwest very different than it is today. Now, population growth and its huge demand upon water along with new, man-made climate drying, rivers are slowly disappearing throughout the southwest. A Q and A discussion and book signing will follow his lecture.

Speaker Biography: Jonathan Waterman has worked as a wilderness guide, magazine editor, park ranger, but more than anything else, he is a writer and photographer. He is renowned for unprecedented mountaineering ascents, long river descents, and arduous wilderness traverses—such as his solo of the Northwest Passage, winter ascent of Denali’s Cassin Ridge, or source to sea descent of the Colorado River. The National Geographic Society has frequently supported his journeys. His twelve books include Northern Exposures: An Adventuring Career in Stories and Images (Snowy Owl Books, 2013), Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River (National Geographic Books, 2010), and Arctic Crossing (Knopf, 2001). The recognition for his work includes magazine awards, a Special Achievement Award from the National Park Service, a literary fellowship from the National Endowment for the arts, and an Emmy. Waterman’s upcoming lecture “Changes in SW  Rivers” (based on his journeys down and extensive repeat photography of rivers ) features an hour’s worth of Waterman’s storytelling, images, and video about his challenging research journey into water issues of the Southwest. A book signing will follow the lecture.  For more info, please see

Pioneers and Pluck: Eagle County History

Thursday, February 9, 2017 | 5:30pm
Presenter: Kathy Heicher
Location: Avon Public Library

Kathy Heicher headshot

Discussion Highlights: Kathy Heicher's multimedia presentation focuses on the history of Eagle County—Then and Now: What Has Changed and What Hasn't. Kathy Heicher is the President of the Eagle Valley Historical Society. Watch recorded presentation here!

Speaker Biography:  Kathy Heicher has been a resident of the Eagle Valley since arriving fresh out of college in 1972 to take a job as editor of the local weekly newspaper, the Eagle Valley Enterprise. A graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in journalism, Heicher worked for various newspapers and magazines in the valley and greater region. Although she has written thousands of news stories, Heicher admits that she has always had a soft spot for local history feature stories. She has earned numerous awards during her journalism career.

Now retired from newspaper writing, Heicher has turned her attention and writing skill to preserving Eagle County history. She has authored three local history books. Her most recent book, The Bridges of Eagle County, is the winner of the 2016 Caroline Bancroft Project Award from History Colorado. The award recognizes project that have made a significant contribution to Colorado history.

Outdoors in the Southwest

Saturday, March 18, 2017 | 2:00pm
Presenter: Dr. Andrew Gulliford
Location: Avon Public Library

Dr. Andrew Gulliford headshot
Discussion Highlights: Dr. Andrew Gulliford, professor of history and Environmental Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, will lecture on his book Outdoors in the Southwest: An Adventure Anthology. The book won the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for nature/environment and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Best Book on Arizona because of the many references to the Grand Canyon. Outdoors in the Southwest also won the Colorado Book Award for Best Anthology.

Gulliford will read and reflect on passages from the book with particular reference to “looking for history” and what can be learned from archaeological and historical sites on America’s public lands. He will also discuss “catch and release arrowhead hunting,” and “wilderness tithing” or giving back to public lands through volunteer projects. He encourages audiences to share their hiking and mountain climbing experiences. Three decades ago, he helped Eagle County pioneer Helen Dice write her memoirs of life on Brush Creek.

Speaker Biography: Dr. Andrew Gulliford is a professor of history and Environmental Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. He teaches popular courses on wilderness, national parks, Western history, and environmental history. He is the author of America’s Country SchoolsSacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions, and Boomtown Blues: Colorado Oil Shale, which won the Colorado Book Award. He edited Preserving Western History, which was voted one of the best books on the Southwest by the Tucson-Pima County Library. His most recent book Outdoors in the Southwest: An Adventure Anthology won the 2014 Arizona/New Mexico Book Award in the category of nature/environment and Best Book on Arizona. Outdoors in the Southwest also won the Colorado Book Award for best anthology.

He writes columns about the west for the Durango HeraldUtah Adventure JournalNew Mexico WILD! and High Country News. Gulliford has had led tours across the West by canoe, raft, horseback, van, cruise ship, private train, and private jet for the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic Society, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Great Old Broads for Wilderness, History Colorado and the San Juan Mountains Association.

Dr. Gulliford has received the National Individual Volunteer Award from the U.S. Forest Service for wilderness education, and a certificate of recognition from the Secretary of Agriculture for “outstanding contributions to America’s natural and cultural resources.” For a decade he held a federal appointment to the Southwest Colorado Resources Advisory Council of the Bureau of Land Management. In 2016 he was one of two senior fellows awarded the Aldo and Estella Leopold Residency at Tres Piedras, New Mexico to research and write in the bungalow Aldo built for his wife in 1912 on the Carson National Forest.

This Land Is Your Land

Thursday, April 6, 2017 | 5:30pm
 Dyana Z. Furmansky
Location: Walking Mountains Science Center

Dyana Z. Furmansky headshot
Discussion Highlights: Dyana Furmansky’s presentation focuses on the history of the White River National Forest, one of the earliest forest reserves drawn from the public domain. She explains why far-seeing federal management of the White River is essential to assure that all public lands be retained as the nation’s natural inheritance for the benefit of all Americans, and how this effort is up to us.

Speaker Biography: Dyana Z. Furmansky’s first piece on the history of public land was published in American Heritage Magazine in 1982. Her book Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy: The Activist Who saved Nature From the Conservationists tangentially concerned the conflict over public lands. In 2009, Rosalie Edge was named the Wormsloe Foundation’s Nature Book of the year, and in 2010 the book won the Colorado Book Award for Biography. Dyana won the prestigious George Polk Award for Environmental Reporting for her contribution to the High Country News series, ‘Western Water Made Simple.’ Her book, These American Lands first published in 1985 was praised by the late Wallace Stegner as “the only indispensable narrative history of the public lands.”  Furmansky has also written on a variety of subjects for The New York Times and many other publications. She now contributes to a monthly magazine called Desert Leaf in Tucson, and is working on a book about the contentious making of Grand Teton National Park. Dyana and her husband Bert live in Vail, and Tucson.


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