A Sneak Peek: 2023 speakers

A Sneak Peek: 2023 Speakers


New venues, new lineup of speakers for the 40th anniversary festival

After several years of holding online and hybrid festivals during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Monte Vista Crane Festival is excited to return to in-person events—just in time for the 40th Anniversary Celebration this March. With a newly remodeled and expanded Ski-Hi Complex serving as the primary venue, the Crane Fest committee is excited to welcome a fabulous lineup of speakers on a wide range of topics, from nesting behaviors of cranes, to migration patterns of elk in the SLV. Here is a sneak peek at this year's speakers, and their topics!

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Erin Gelling - The Secret Lives of Nesting Sandhill Cranes - Sat. March 11th, 3:00PM

Sandhill Cranes are secretive when nesting, but with current technology cranes can be seen on and around their nests without being disturbed. For the past two years, two Sandhill Crane pairs were observed nesting in the Yampa Valley via a livestream camera. Video captured predator attacks, the parents changing places on the nest, unison calling, eggs hatching, and chicks in and near the nest. Discover crane nesting biology as seen through video captured from the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition’s Crane Nest Camera.

About the Speaker:  

Erin Gelling is the Executive Director for the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition. She received her M.S. in Rangeland Ecology from University of Wyoming working with one of her favorite birds, Greater Sage-grouse. She has a strong background in avian ecology, botany, and environmental education having worked for non-profits, government, and universities. For over 14 years, she has worked with a variety of birds, including plovers, sparrows, shorebirds, sage-grouse, and her other favorite bird, Sandhill Cranes, across the U.S.

Rachel Vanausdall - Habitat selection and movement patterns of the Rocky Mountain Population of Greater Sandhill Cranes in the San Luis Valley, Colorado - Sat. March 11th, 11:00AM

The San Luis Valley is a critical stopover area for the Rocky Mountain Population of sandhill cranes, but surface water is becoming increasingly limited in the region. We are seeking to understand how sandhill cranes use the San Luis Valley during the spring and the fall, including the habitat characteristics that influence their movement patterns. This information will help inform potential management practices on both public and private land for sandhill cranes.

About the Speaker:  

I am a PhD Candidate at Colorado State University and have been studying the stopover ecology of sandhill cranes in the San Luis Valley for the past nearly three years. I obtained my Master’s degree from Iowa State University in 2018 and my Bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 2014, both in wildlife ecology. My main interest as an ecologist is in avian migration, particularly as it relates to waterbirds.

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Doug Ouren - Elk on the SLV Refuge Complex: What’s going on out there? - Sat. March 11th, 1:00PM

This presentation is an exploration of elk distribution and dispersal challenges in the San Luis Valley.  Elk are a species that like to travel in large groups which in turn can cause damages to agricultural interests and/or ecologically sensitive areas.  Elk movements have been significantly affected by forest disturbances including drought and beetle kill - reducing available habitat and increasing potential for conflicts.

About the Speaker:  

Doug Ouren is currently the Elk Distribution and Dispersal Coordinator for the Habitat Partnership Program of CPW.  He did his undergraduate work at Adams State University; received an MS at Colorado State University focusing on utilization of geospatial technologies and did PhD work at Montana State University and Colorado State University focusing on wildlife ecology. Doug worked with the Federal government for the past 31 years, retiring in 2021. His research focus was on the application of global positioning systems (GPS) collars and remote sensing technologies to address questions related to sustainable wildlife habitat conservation on various animal species (including grizzly bears, elk and Gunnison sage-grouse). 

Tickets to all talks can be purchased at the door, OR...