Marcie Bidwell


Meet Marcie Bidwell, MSI's Executive Director and "chief dreamer and schemer."

MSI: What do you love about living and working in the San Juan Mountains?  

MB: I love the transitions of the high peaks to the deep desert canyons- everything that I love about living in the West is right here, within a two hour drive from 14,000 foot peaks to the Dolores River Canyon. I love living within a few hours from the darkest skies in the lower 48 states.  

MSI: What kind of projects do you work on for MSI? What is your favorite project that you work on and why? 

MB: I am the Executive Director, or in other terms “chief dreamer and schemer.” I also serve as the Climate Program Lead, public facilitator, and landscape ecologist. My favorite work that we do are our restoration projects- I love taking a place that is broken or not functioning properly, and figuring out a way to help it heal. Our fen restoration projects are some of my favorite because they are in awesome settings, the sites persist in some of the harshest weather conditions, and these little plants thrive with the smallest actions to give them a good start.

MSI: What is your most memorable, rewarding, challenging, or awkward experience from your time at MSI? 

MB: On the night of August 6th, when the Gold King Mine spill was headed towards Durango, three of us sat on the bank of the Animas River in the dark, checking the water color and pH by headlamp. I thought about the value of the river to me and our community, the unknown future of what was about to happen, and what could MSI offer to help respond and recover. I am really proud of how we rallied as a team and how we continue to work towards improving the resilience of our river system and communities that live along the river.  

MSI: What do you think is the most exciting change MSI has undergone in the last 15 years? 

MB: In the early years of when MSI first started working in Silverton, around 2004, an elected official in Silverton said “I would rather have a bus full of Taliban in my town than Mountain Studies Institute”. Over 15 years, recounting that saying has become an enduring sign of acceptance in a dark humor sort of way. Saying that we are more fun than the Taliban is a common way of saying that MSI is welcomed and embraced as a community asset.