I have lived and worked for over 25 years in Boulder County, Colorado with my husband, Tom Andrews,

a landscape photographer and ecologist.  I have enjoyed many years of experience teaching science and

natural history both in Boulder County and in Grand Canyon National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National

Monument, and Baja.  I also have worked as a plant ecologist for natural resource management agencies

and am aware of the ecological and recreational issues affecting our public lands.  I weave this experience

into programs I present, encouraging the development of an ethic of stewardship for these lands. 

My essays have appeared locally in Nature News, the newsletter of the Boulder County Nature

Association, and in Images, the newsletter of the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department.  I

have also authored and coauthored many scientific reports, including an article on the restoration of

ponderosa pine forests in the Colorado Front Range, which was published in Ecological Restoration, and

sections of the Forest Ecosystem Management Plan developed for the City of Boulder Open Space and

Mountain Parks.  I am currently writing a book about the natural history of ponderosa pine forests in the



Dianne Andrews



to go to WildlandArt home page


Note:  These courses are no longer being offered.


Walking through the Seasons in the Ponderosa Pine Forest

A course that explores the forest world near Allenspark

If you set out to learn about what goes on in the forest you will never be bored.

The stories go on forever . . .   Joan Maloof

The ponderosa pine forest is home to a fascinating array of plants and wildlife, each one worthy of our study and

appreciation.  And their relationships with each other are even more intriguing.  In this course we will explore the life

histories of some of the plants, animals, birds, and insects that live all around us.  Each season we will walk the same trail

near Allenspark, unearthing some of the stories the forest has to tell--stories that reveal the relationships that shape life in

the pine forest.

The lives of ponderosa pine trees, for instance, are interwoven with the lives of truffles, tree squirrels, forest hawks, and

many others.  The pines, like many other plants, have developed mutually beneficial relationships with root fungi that

extend the reach of tree roots so they can absorb more water and minerals from the soil.  The fungi can even protect the

trees from certain diseases.  The pines, in turn, provide sugars that the fungi absorb from the tree roots. 

The truffles, or fruiting bodies of the fungi, grow underground, but their scent is an advertisement to hungry squirrels and

other small mammals.  Tassel-eared squirrels feast on the truffles, passing the fungal spores unharmed through their

digestive tracts, along with a bit of natural fertilizer, dispersing the fungi throughout the forest, which benefits both pine

trees and root-fungi.  The truffles, in addition to providing nutrition for the squirrels, stimulate the growth of bark-

digesting microbes in the squirrels’ digestive system.  The inner bark of pine twigs just happens to be one of the primary

winter foods for tassel-eared squirrels! 

The squirrels, in turn, are eaten by northern goshawks, who also hunt chipmunks, chickarees, and birds like band-tailed

pigeons, hairy woodpeckers, and Steller’s jays, to name a few.  But the goshawk is a story for another day.

Part I of the course begins in March with an indoor class and slide show where we will review the identification and

adaptations of forest plants, birds, mammals, and insects, and look at our own influence on ponderosa pine forests. 

During our March walk we will observe our resident birds and learn their calls, identify forest trees and shrubs, and look

for tracks in the snow.  In May we will track the return of migrant birds, the emergence of spring wildflowers, the flights

of spring butterflies, and the mating and nesting rituals of forest birds. 

Part II of the course begins in July with an indoor class, continuing our work on identification and adaptations of forest

wildlife.  During our July walk we will observe the fledging of young birds, the antics of small mammals, the flight of

summer butterflies, and the continuing procession of wildflowers.  In September we will watch migrant birds heading

south, animals preparing for the coming of winter, and autumnal colors returning to trees and shrubs. 

During each field trip we will spend some time sitting quietly, recording our observations and reflections (including

drawings, photographs, and poems, if you desire), creating a journal of what we have learned and experienced during our

walk through the seasons.  Throughout the course we will try to weave together the strands that form the tapestry of forest

life, attempting to expand our perceptions of forest ecosystems and to better understand our own influence on the

ponderosa pine forests of the West. 

My background:  I am a naturalist, writer, and teacher, and enjoy sharing my boundless curiosity about ponderosa pine

forests.  After moving to Boulder County in 1984, I taught classes and conducted botanical studies for many years in

forests managed by the city and county of Boulder.  I am currently writing a book about the natural history of ponderosa

pine forests.     

Part I—Winter and Spring

Indoor class:  Thursday, March 18th, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Field Class:  Saturday, March 20th, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm

Field Class:  Saturday, May 29th, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm

Part II—Summer and Fall

Indoor class:  Thursday, July 15, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Field Class:  Saturday, July 17, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm

Field Class:  Saturday, September 18, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm

Tuition for each Part: $90 ($80 for BCNA members).

Scholarships are available for all BCNA classes.

Limited to 12 participants.

These classes were offered through the Boulder County Nature Association.

These classes are currently not being offered.  

See www.bcna.org for membership information and a listing of other course offerings.

Contact Dianne at dandrews@boulder.net