Noel Durant - Conservation & Community in the Gunnison Valley - Mountain & Prairie Podcast
Noel Durant is the new Executive Director of the Crested Butte Land Trust, a conservation organization that protects and stewards the ranches, trails, open space, and wildlife habit of Colorado’s Gunnison Valley. Noel took the helm of the land trust in early 2017, and he brings a wide variety of conservation experience with him into this new role. He’s worked as a member of the Interagency Hotshot Crew, fighting fires across the American West. He has also worked for regional and national conservation organizations, doing everything from managing large swaths of rural land to developing urban trail systems.
Noel’s resume speaks for itself, but what is even more impressive is his intense curiosity and deep knowledge around all things conservation. Whether discussing the history of the Gunnison Valley or the ideas of Wendell Berry, it’s clear that Noel has a true passion for his work and a vision for the future of conservation in Colorado and beyond. His practical experience combined with abundant enthusiasm is what will allow him to continue and expand the work of Crested Butte Land Trust into the future.
As listeners of the podcast know, Crested Butte in one of my favorite places in the American West. Its ranching heritage, world-class recreation, and genuine community make it a unique and rare place in today’s American West. In our conversation, Noel explains what makes Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley so special, and how the Land Trust must balance the goals of such a wide range of various stakeholders. He talks about the history of conservation in the Valley and where he sees conservation going in the future. We also discuss his time fighting fires throughout the West, how his early life and parents shaped his love of the outdoors, and lessons learned from his various roles in conservation.
This is an excellent episode with lots of interesting information, so be sure the check the episode notes for links to everything we discuss. I’m sure you’ll agree that Crested Butte Land Trust is in great hands under the leadership of Noel. Enjoy!
2:35 - How Noel describes his work
2:55 - Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust
5:00 - Crested Butte compared to other mountain towns
7:00 - History of conservation in Crested Butte
11:00 - Variety of stakeholders and methods of conservation
16:30 - Overlap between ranchers and recreational users
19:00 - The community of the Gunnison Valley
20:15 - Early years in Tennessee
22:00 - Semester in western NC
23:50 - College at Clemson
27:00 - Time with the Interagency Hotshot Crew
29:00 - Details of a hotshot crew
33:00 - Community and purpose of the fighting fires
35:00 - Tragedies and challenges from the fire fighting world
39:45 - Moving on from fires to land conservation
43:00 - Time at Trust for Public Land
45:20 - Importance of open space in urban area
47:00 - Lessons learned from jobs in conservation
51:45 - Future of land conservation locally and nationally
56:45 - Favorite books
58:50 - Favorite documentaries
59:20 - Favorite location in the West
1:01:34 - Favorite hike in Crested Butte
1:03:00 - Best piece of advice he’s ever received
1:04:45 - Request of the listeners
1:05:45 - Connect with Noel and Crested Butte Land Trust