Residencies in the Natural Sciences, Conservation and Ecology

Stewardship of the land continues to be our passion, our meditation, our breath and our practice. Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center is a wildlife property, bird sanctuary and a water wonderland. Enjoy the abundance we have created together with nature. We are the “neighborhood crazies” who gambled our energy and our savings to rescue our Pinion and Ponderosa pines from a massive infestation of the Ips bark beetle several years ago.

Much research, four years of work, lack of resources and no guarantee of success were facing us. However with the help of David Leatherman, Colorado State Entomologist, David Temple, owner Animas Arborist and many others, 7,800 Pinion and Ponderosa trees in our ancient forest are alive and well today, serving as home to birds, many pollinators, butterflies, mammals, other wildlife and humans.

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Residencies can cover a variety of the Natural Sciences, Conservation and Ecology.

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Water use and conservation on small and large plots in the SW, forestry, Ornitholgy [study of birds],Entomology [study of insects], butterflies and dragonflies all have an integrated ease and support each others spectacular life.

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For over 20 years, gardens, landscape design, fruiting trees and shrubs, study of seed cultivation and propagation, permaculture and spaces for food cultivation have all been studied and practiced at Willowtail.

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Growing and using herbs, artist created fountains and pools in the landscape add a vision of sound, smell, touch and visual delight for birds, insects, wildlife and humans in this habitat.

Wetland areas provide a haven for herons, geese ducks, osprey and many others

Wetland areas provide a haven for herons, geese ducks, osprey and many others

The exquisite hand of nature and the light hand of humans

The exquisite hand of nature and the light hand of humans

Aerators protect fish and keep open water for winter birds

Aerators protect fish and keep open water for winter birds

“Marvelous medicine for the soul.”
–Coleen & Scott, Colorado Springs, CO

David Leatherman

  • Recognized expert on Birds and their Environment, Forestry, Entomology
  • Retired State Entomologist and Master Ornithologist
  • Papers in Colorado Field Ornithologists.
  • Consultant with Cloys for “saving” the pinions and ponderosa from the Ips Beetle.
  • Lecturer at WTS for the Birding Festival, Cortez Cultural Center, 2013.
  • Frequent visitor to check out birds, dragonflies, forests and many unusual plant species and insect species.

“Peggy and Lee, the Governor does not treat me as well as you two. I very much appreciate your kindnesses and the work you did in organizing the pinion ips meeting. I will look forward to returning and to observe your special partnership of skills and experience bonded by love for each other and this very unique land.”


We have several water sources – all precious and abundant. With a background in engineering, Lee is a “water wizard” who makes our water stretch as far as it can.

“The storm and dense rainbow was fantastic! My favorite part of this Southwest corner has been seen right here.”
–Joy, W. Stockbridge, MA


There are many paths and trails through the property – some wild, some mild. Surrounded by other properties, some private and some public, including BLM land where further exploration is encouraged. We have also planted many new native species of grasses, bushes and flowers in an already beautiful land.

Other conservation projects have included rebuilding the lake dam to naturally feed the outgoing streams which feed wildlife ponds and natural bird nesting areas, reseeding to replace lost trees, converting water feeds from ditch to pipe which conserves water and reduces downstream salinity in the Colorado River, construction of a catch basin to keep the lake level up during a dry season, trimming and thinning to improve forest health and reduce wildfire danger, introduced gardens to encourage new and varied ecosystems for a variety of plants, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, etc., acquisition of a twenty acre buffer zone to the south which also adds additional streams to the property.

Want to know more? Click here for more detailed information regarding previous and ongoing Conservation projects in the Preserve.

Past Visitors in the Natural Sciences/Conservation/Ecology

David Temple
Arborist, Growing and Caring for Trees of all kinds in the Southwest,

David Temple, Arborist, Expert Consultant on Tree Health and Founding Member of the National Wild Mustang Society.

Peggy Cloy:
Landscape and Gardening, Fountain Design, Painting, Sculpture and Poetry

Peggy Cloy, Co-Creator and Director, wtnpec and Co-Owner, Willowtail Springs, B&B Cabins
Gardening in the SW within existing forests
Creating spaces which wind seamlessly through interiors and exteriors for beauty and passion.

“Peggy and Lee allow their guests to connect with nature by making their homes an integral part of the surroundings.” In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright,”The house should never be built on the hill.  It should be of the hill.”   “Peggy and Lee have accomplished this goal.”
Anonymous Artist

Water Biology:
Many guests over the years have given us their expertise on all things water and the care of bodies of water, irrigation and fish biology. This has expanded our knowledge of the stewardship of our lake, fish, streams and water systems.

Lee Cloy:
Creative Water Systems and Conservation Practices used on wtsnpec and Willowtail Springs:

Lee Cloy, Co-Owner of Willowtail Spring B&B Cabins, President and CO-creator of wtsnpec and Master of steward of forest, lands, water, wildlife and humans.  This man creates and manifests “imagineering” to nurture sustainable systems on the land and help them thrive. Lee has led countless guests over the years on individual tours of the property talking of water, forests, wildlife and birds.

Barbara Shaw, STEM Specialist for CO State University Extension:
Tom Hooten, Director of Montezuma County CSU Extension and Master Gardner:
Holly Cruser, Master Gardner Instructor, Landscape Designer,Horticulturist:
Judith Swain, former head of Sales and Marketing, Aramark – Mesa Verde National Park:
Peggy Zemack:Former Executive Director of Durango Art Center, currently on board of STEAM project in Durango and Crow Canyon Archeology Center:
This group of wonderful people are currenting working on a project to bring out teachers in training for residencies in how to encourage children to learn first hand, the integrations of sciences/nature/conservation/the arts.We are also working to coordinate some of the efforts of all of these groups.

 

An ecological microcosm in the garden

An ecological microcosm in the garden

Visitors of all kinds enjoy nonintrusive protection

Visitors of all kinds enjoy nonintrusive protection