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A Mountain Man

billy barr in front of Gothic Mountain

billy barr in front of Gothic Mountain Photo Credit: Joanna Nasar

billy barr, 58, is a mountain man, but he is not a hermit.  True he lives in virtual solitude for the winter but his valley in Gothic, Colo. is his home.  He knows this valley better than most of us know the palm of our hands and has many friends in these mountains, even if some are seasonal like the scientists that work at the lab.

He first came to Gothic in 1972 to work at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory http://rmbl.org and he ended up staying. In 1973 he moved into a tiny shack. Since there was not much to do he says “I started recording everything in a notebook and I did it for years.”

For 33 years and counting he has been collecting data. At first is was just something to do but soon scientists took interest when they realized his data could be used in relation to climate change and species movements.  He takes four records each day.

He majored in environmental science at Rutgers in New Jersey where he says he was, “a complete misfit.”  Working at the lab was the perfect antidote. “It was quite and just a chance to get away from everything.”

He tries to keep track of the animal sightings each year and collects snow data.  He has been trapped in avalanches a bizillion times backcountry exploring.  He has a great deal of respect for the land and environment around him and pays attention to what it tells him.  barr is someone with the keen observational powers and humility.

More to come soon!

Check out this article in the Rocky Mountain News about barr: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4310966,00.html