Residencies in the Natural Sciences, Conservation and Ecology

We encourage residencies in ecology, the natural sciences and conservation. Although in the past two years our main outreach has been to artists, many whose work is directly influenced by and part of the natural sciences, we would like more natural scientists, biologists to explore the integration to the arts in their own fields.

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 Pinyon 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 not obstacles with the help of David Leatherman, Colorado State Entomologist, David Temple, former owner Animas Arborist and now …7,800 pinyon 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.



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


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


For over 25 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.


Growing and using herbs is a practice at Willowtail, as well as landscape features such as artist created fountains and sculpture all add 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.
  • Photographer, retired Colorado State University Entomologist and Master Ornithologist.
  • Papers in Colorado Field Ornithologists.
  • Consultant with Cloys for “saving” the pinyons and ponderosa from the Ips Beetle
  • Lecturer at Willowtail for the Birding Festivals, Cortez Cultural Center
  • Frequent visitor to check out birds, dragonflies, forests and many unusual plant species and insect species.
  • Future Lecturer, tour guide with Lee in 2016, on several possible topics: Plant-bird-insect connections, Birds of southwestern Colorado, Understanding nature as an inspiration for the Arts, Landscaping for birds and wildlife, Biodiversity all-stars of pinyon habitats, Dragonflies and damselflies of SW Colorado, birds and birding, how to get started, Understanding Nature starts with true observation.

“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_templeDavid 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, WTSNPEC 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.

Natural Science Advisory Committee:

This group of wonderful people are currently working on a pilot project to bring elementary teachers from Montezuma County to WTSNPEC for a week long retreat to explore holistic teaching techniques in the sciences, nature, conservation and the arts.

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



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