You Can't Cancel Nature: Environmental Work During the Pandemic

Letter to the community from ACES' CEO, Chris Lane

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir

In these times of “sheltering in place,” as necessary as water quenching your thirst, nature is good for you.

All the great renaissance painters, poets, and romantics sought inspiration in nature. Countless studies corroborate the behavioral benefits of more “green time” and less “screen time.” 

While this spring many ACES programs have been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic, we continue to work diligently, mostly from home, to forward our mission to “educate for environmental responsibility” and connect people to nature.

This week, our educators are launching ACES Nature Challenges, quick and fun activities that families can do together outside and then share with the ACES community via social media. We are also working with our partner school administrators to provide remote learning opportunities for students at home.

And, while our in-person spring birding outings have been put on hold, we continue to share mini lessons on how to explore bird activity during spring migration.

At Rock Bottom Ranch, we not only continue to produce local, sustainable food for our communities, but we are also increasing production as food security is essential and has become more salient during this pandemic. We've made countless extra deliveries of eggs and ground beef to Skip's Farm to Market in Basalt and Silo in Carbondale. Our first round of meat chickens will be going out to pasture in a few days, and tomatoes will be transplanted into one of our hoop-houses this week. Meanwhile, we're busy fixing fence, predator proofing houses, prepping beds, and building more livestock shelters. As more produce becomes available over the next few weeks, we'll update where and how it can be purchased. 

At the Catto Center at Toklat, we will be prepared for a summer of hosting retreats if the pandemic allows. In the meantime, we continue our renovation plans. After receiving County development approval last fall, we now begin the permitting process to make the Catto Center a world class, sustainably designed, wilderness retreat center in the upcoming years.

Various staff are caring for the birds of prey and live animals as well as conducting seasonal site maintenance so that when our community returns to Hallam Lake, Catto Center at Toklat, or Rock Bottom Ranch, they will be treated to well-maintained visitor centers.

While we all must do our part to distance ourselves from others for now, stay tuned as ACES announces new plans and innovative ways in the coming months for you and your families to be involved in protecting our environment and connecting with nature.

This is our work. And it will not end. This is our promise to you.

While the pandemic is forcing the cancellation of many notable Aspen area activities, you cannot cancel nature and all it has to offer!

I hope that you and your family stay safe. We must all take care of each other. Thank you for your continued support.

– Chris Lane, Chief Executive Officer