At CSO, we get to develop partnerships with all kinds of interesting and inspiring organizations working to improve snow science and our understanding of mountain environments. The Mountain Studies Institute, in Silverton, CO, does an amazing job of advancing this understanding in western Colorado. Thanks to MSI for this guest blog post!

Mountain Studies Institute (MSI) is a 501c3 not-for-profit center of knowledge that facilitates collaboration between researchers, educators and policy makers with a focus around mountain environments and communities and the issues that affect them.

MSI staff has built, maintains and monitors three climate stations, two in San Juan County in Minnehaha Basin and at Gladstone, and another in San Miguel County on the Telluride Valley Floor. These climate stations, which sit at about 10,000 – 11,000 feet provide livestream data of weather parameters that can be tailored to the specific needs of an organization.

MSI winter monitoring utilizes telemetry, remote data sensing, FM radios, and iridium satellite, and includes monthly snow pits at the climate stations outside of Silverton to create a temperature profile, obtain Snow Water Equivalent, and a collection of isotope samples. Mountain Studies Institute offers climate station design, construction, maintenance and monitoring services to a variety of organizations up and down the western slope including ski areas, municipalities, federal agencies, and collaborative watershed groups.

MSI staff have also installed 17 stream gauges throughout the watershed to monitor (to evaluate the water quality in Cement Creek and the upper reaches of the Animas River and gain a better understanding of the hydrologic complex within the Bonita Peak Mining District.)

MSI staff are also conducting ongoing, multi-year sampling of seeps, springs, and draining mine adits to quantify how water quality and quantity change across the Bonita Peak Mining District. This research will help stakeholders better understand the water balance in the watersheds around the mine sites.

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