Bear Smart Durango began in 2003 as the educational arm of a community process called the Bear and Trash Roundtable meetings. Following on the heels of a bad bear season in 2002, this series of facilitated meetings brought together community members that had an interest in, or dealings with bears, and began a dialogue of how to address growing concerns with human and bear issues.
In 2003, in search of a better name for the educational working group, Bear Smart Durango was chosen – prior to any knowledge of established criteria and guidelines for becoming an officially-designated Bear Smart community, which ours is not – but a goal to be working towards.
In 2011, the organization began operating under the fiscal sponsorship of the Community Foundation Serving SW Colorado, allowing for the organization tax-exempt status. Bear Smart Durango is a registered 501(c)(3) charity.
“Educating local residents about the importance of reducing wildlife interactions, especially those with bears, is critical in an area such as ours. Bear Smart Durango fills that need, and with limited resources, does an amazing job at doing so.” — Darrin Parmenter, CSU Extension Office, La Plata County
The efforts of Bear Smart Durango have been featured in chapters in two wonderful and informative books on bears: “Great Colorado Bear Stories” by author Laura Pritchett and “Living with Bears: A Practical Guide to Bear Country” by author Linda Masterson.
Banner photo: Spring Bear Walk