2011 Naturalist Winter Wrap Up
Here we are in the first week of May, the grass is greening up and trees are budding throughout the valley. Yet in the mountains and on top of Teton Village Ski area, we are looking at levels of snow accumulation beyond any year in recorded history. Both Jackson Lake and Palisades Lake are drawing down the water in anticipation of high spring runoff…when the weather decides to warm up!
In other news, we had a fabulous winter Nordic Ski season at 3 Creek Ranch. I attribute the overwhelming success of our exclusive 3 Creek Ranch Nordic program to the collaboration between the Home Owners Association and the Golf Club; both entities worked hard to realized the mutual benefits of this world-class amenity. I thank Dan Tolson and his hard working crew for keeping the Nordic track in world-class conditions all winter long. Due to the extraordinary snow fall and moderate to cold temperatures, we maintained and made available the Nordic track for 120 days, an incredible number relative to most winters. We saw well over 600 people use the track, and almost 90% of all the instructional clinics and natural history ski tours offered were attended. Notably, the Nordic track and associated programs proved itself to be yet another showcase of our world-class 3 Creek Ranch community. Nordic skiing is a hugely popular winter sport, and our program does an impressive job of capturing the attention of winter enthusiasts throughout the Rocky Mountain west and other parts of the world. Numerous homeowners and members told me how impressed their guests were with every aspect of 3 Creek Ranch. Over the Christmas holiday season, we had over 35 people attend a ski clinic at 3 Creek Ranch that featured Erich Wilbrecht, former Olympic and World Cup Nordic ski racer. Following a full day on the track, Erich presented a highly entertaining and engaging slide show with behind the scenes stories of life on the Olympic and World Cup Nordic ski circuit.
In addition to our ski track, I thank Brad Zolnowski, Grant Galloway and Dan Tolson for their expertise and enthusiasm creating the ice skating pond over the holiday season. The scene was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting…the warmth of the clubhouse, Marcell’s incredible gourmet menu, a skating pond ringed in lights, the decorated Christmas tree in the middle, kids chasing a hockey puck, and a few parents standing by the outside fire…drinking a hot cup of hot chocolate..well..drinking something anyway! Overall, this winter was spectacular. I look forward to sharing in what I hope will become a 3 Creek Ranch winter tradition.
I can’t let a newsletter go by without mentioning birds in some way or another! I am delighted to announce our new ‘Kestrel Nest Box Program’ at 3 Creek Ranch in collaboration with Dan Tolson, our Golf Course Superintendent. This program involves building and strategically placing custom made nest boxes exclusively designed for the American Kestrel . The Kestrel is a small member of the falcon family, a raptor of incredible beauty and grace..and a true force of nature when it comes to dispatching small rodents, particularly the ubiquitous meadow vole. Kestrels nest only in tree cavities, either natural ones, cavities created by woodpeckers, or nest boxes, if designed right and placed in the appropriate location. These boxes are not your ‘garden-variety’ bluebird boxes (which we also have installed around the Ranch), rather, these boxes are almost 2 feet high, a foot wide and a foot deep. Kestrels will typically have 6-8 chicks in one clutch, and are peculiar in that they do not ‘deliver’ nest material, such as sticks, bark strips, fur, etc to their nest cavity. They apparently don’t have much time to fuss over the housekeeping…if the cavity fits ‘as is’, they take it..Thus, we needed to place the proper amount of bark strips into each box, and locate the box in close proximity to a food resource…not a difficult problem around 3 Creek Ranch! Two years ago we placed a Kestrel box behind #9 tee, and a pair showed up with a week or so. This box has been occupied every year since we put it up. We’ve placed 5 new boxes to date, with plans to put more out once we monitor their occupancy.
I’m getting ready for another season of Outdoor Pursuits at the Nature Center, including a weekly schedule of events, hikes, biking, outings and social activities. It might take us awhile to hike into the high country this year, but there is plenty of outdoor enjoyment to be had at the lower elevations.
I look forward to seeing all of you this coming season, and as always, I offer a warm and sincere welcome to stop by anytime to say hello, pull up a chair on the front lawn, enjoy the view, and relax.