American, or "Pine" Marten, with tiny radio collar USFS photo

Jim, Nancy and I talked about creating more raptor roosts.  Jim thought they would be a good idea that lots of ranchers might like to have in areas where small rodents became a problem. I imagined a forest of roosts across Wyoming and the west. Ranch art!  I also thought of examining all the small eco-zones, different habitat communities around the area I lived in and had explored and been inspired by for years. It was mainly short grass prairie, or high altitude steppe as naturalist Kevin Cook calls it, but nearby were also riparian (river and stream side) zones, mountain forests, and desert-like stone outcroppings. Not to mention alpine and krummholz areas in the Medicine Bow forest.

One idea for riparian ponds or rivers was to build islands, or rafts, which would host waterfowl and perhaps other aquatic species. These were to become probably my most successful sculptures, with invertebrates moving onto them within 24 hours and in one case frogs taking up residence while I struggled to finish the sculpture!

I began this work with the question, “What can I as an artist do to help wildlife where I live?” I lived in a magnificent landscape, where wildlife were more visible than people; there were more antelope than people.

In an issue of the Game and Fish division magazine I read about “Pine Marten”, officially “American Marten”, a small cat-like, fox-like weasel family member who lived in old growth forests because they needed the big chunks of wood and logs fallen under the trees for winter survival. In the summer marten hunt in the forest treetops, but in winter they need a way to get under snow and into shelters of stone or wood below. Marten populations were dropping due to clear cutting forests for timber. After the logs were cleared out the areas left behind wouldn’t support the wildlife diversity the old forests did. And one of the leading experts on Marten taught in the University of Wyoming Zoology department.

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