What a beautiful day it was to explore the South Park’s native plants and learn about the traditional uses of plants found at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. We gathered on the Main House’s front porch, as Bonnie Clark and Meg Van Ness gave a fascinating overview of the botanical wonders to be found across the surrounding high mountain grasslands. Then we all took to the field and learned more than we could have ever imagined about people and plants — a relationship spanning thousands of years in South Park. By the end of the day we could all agree that we’ll never experience Buffalo Peaks Ranch in the same way again.

Dr. Bonnie J. Clark began her career as a professional archaeologist and now serves as a Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Denver (DU), as well as the Curator for Archaeology of the DU Museum of Anthropology. She is the author or editor of numerous publications including Finding Solace in the Soil: An Archaeology of Gardens and Gardeners at Amache and On the Edge of Purgatory: An Archaeology of Place in Hispanic Colorado. Dr. Clark currently leads the DU Amache Project, a community collaboration committed to researching, preserving, and interpreting the physical history of Amache, Colorado’s WWII-era Japanese American internment camp. That work has been highlighted in numerous venues including Archaeology and American Archaeology magazines. In 2011, Dr. Clark’s work was recognized by her peers with the University of Denver’s Teacher/Scholar of the Year award.

Meg Van Ness has been an archaeologist for over 50 years with most of the time spent in the middle of the continent:  the Midwest, Northern Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Southwest.  She has a BA in anthropology from the University of Missouri and an MA from Northern Arizona University – both in anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology.  The first 16 years were spent working on various projects through Universities and archaeological consulting companies, followed by 15 years at the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation within the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office.  Beginning in 2005, and until her retirement this past May, she was an archaeologist for Mountain-Prairie Zone of the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – National Wildlife Refuge System. Her primary interests are the archaeological remains of prehistoric plant use, Depression-era buildings and structures, and new discoveries.

Our thanks goes to The Summit Foundation for their support!