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The wilderness is a walkway for Karsten Heuer.

Walking for Wildlife

In my mind's eye, I am Karsten Heuer. Someone who would walk 2,200 miles along the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Yellowstone to the Yukon. Nothing but me, my dog and my pack. I, too, could fend off bears, shoot glacier-fed rapids, ski next to fresh wolverine tracks and camp across from wolf packs.

But, alas, I am nothing like Heuer. I am just a city girl. Hell, I can't even ride a horse anymore, even though my daddy was a cowboy. Nope, I have to make do with the stories told by bold adventurers.

The night of Wednesday, April 20, promises to be one of those evenings of great storytelling, when Heuer, an explorer, environmentalist (not in the four-letter-word way) and wildlife biologist, comes to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to discuss his new book, Walking the Big Wild: From Yellowstone to the Yukon on the Grizzly Bear's Trail.

And one hell of a walk it was. Heuer, his girlfriend and his border collie, Webster, spent eighteen months in the wild together, facing every imaginable challenge -- not the least of which were the farmers, ranchers, loggers and oilmen Heuer encountered while trying to explain the Y2Y Conservation Initiative, which addresses the movement and migration of wildlife.

"As more parks are surrounded by development and become more and more like islands, more of the animals that they were meant to protect are becoming extinct," Heuer says. "Y2Y is not having to do intervention down the road and recognizing that this is one of the last opportunities for a fully functioning ecosystem. A lot of people jumped to conclusions that this was another proposal to make sure that wildlife were safe and people were locked out. But as I worked toward clarifying that, no, it's not a huge park proposal, but rather how to interconnect those parks, they were much more open to the concept."

Even in my mind's eye, I'd much rather face down a grizzly than be an environmentalist (even the not-four-letter-word kind) in a den of ranchers. With any luck, tonight's crowd should be much safer. If only we had a campfire.


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