Denny Arter

Denny Arter

Denny Arter was a member of the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association before she even moved to Chaffee County back in 2002. 

After spending her career volunteering in Denver at the Natural History Museum and other nature-related organizations, she said she had a natural inclination for the field. 

Arter has worn several hats during the years for GARNA, serving on its board for eight years before working as board chair. She also helped GARNA take over the local nest box monitoring program and helped start GARNA’s birding club in 2009. 

For all of her work, GARNA is honoring Arter with its lifetime achievement award. 

“It was really a surprise,” she said. “It’s a real honor and feels special.”

She’ll be honored at an online ceremony at 5 p.m. Saturday that’s open to all. 

During the event, attendees will hear from GARNA’s four environmental heros and will be eligible for drawing prizes from local businesses.

GARNA Board member Jacy Doumas of Buena Vista is receiving the Environmental Hero Award for Sustainability due to her pivotal role in the creation of Chaffee Green, a program designed to develop community-wide solutions for critical issues, including single use plastics, waste management, recycling, composting and environmental health.

Mike Conlin, winner of GARNA’s Environmental Hero Award for Stewardship was an integral part of creating Lake County Open Space Initiative (LCOSI) in 1997, which was created to advance the open space needs in Lake County and clean up and protect the headwaters of the Arkansas River.

GARNA’s Environmental Hero Award for Education will be given to Keith Krebs, a 10-year GARNA supporter, member and volunteer who has been a driving force behind the Stream Explorers program, an immersive, hands-on learning experience provided in partnership with the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited that connects young people to the rivers flowing through their backyard. 

“There are so many people who have done so much,” Arter said. 

GARNA’s community of members is part of the reason Arter continues volunteering, although now her only commitment is with the birding club. 

“It’s the community that’s so much fun to get out there with,” Arter said. “It serves a real purpose being part of GARNA.”

She also gave Andrew Mackie a lot of credit for his work with the birding club. 

“I knew if we provided activities for smaller groups, more people would get involved,” Arter said. 

Anyone can join the birding club, they just have to become a GARNA member first. 

“We call it a social birding club because we have so much fun,” Arter said. “It continually provides community and that feeling keeps people coming back and participating.”

She said the spring migration is always exciting while some warblers that don’t usually come here also visited last fall. She said Sands Lake is a good place to watch birds. 

“Sands Lake is open all year; only twice have I seen it frozen over,” she said. “A lot of waterfowl stay here. January and February are a wonderful time to go see some birds. The open water is just wonderful.

Arter and the other recipients will be honored virtually on Saturday. 

The awards ceremony, which people can find more information about at, is also the culmination of the organization’s fundraising drive this year. Its goal is to raise $20,000 to support the organization. 

“GARNA has been here 25 years and done so much for the county educating people, working to protect resources, partnering with agencies and educating our children,” Arter said.

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