Dawn Barton- owner, founder of West Elks and principal biologist- was born and raised in Denver and has lived and worked in the Roaring Fork and Eagle River Valleys since 1983. Dawn received her B.S. in Plant Geography and Biology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and her MS in Environmental Studies and Resource Management from Antioch New England Graduate School. She founded West Elks Ecological Consulting in 2000.

In addition to her extensive work with conservation easements, Dawn has also worked with Colorado’s Natural Heritage Program to revise and update the Potential Conservation Areas (PCAs) for Garfield County in 2005 and the Roaring Fork Watershed in 2006. Dawn was also the project manager and a contributing author to the award-winning 2004 book, “Wild at Heart”.

Before founding West Elks, Dawn worked as a biologist in both the public and private sectors. For 6 years she was a forester and wilderness manager for the United States Forest Service in Minturn, Colorado, and for 5 years she served as the wildlife specialist for the Town of Snowmass Village. As an entomologist for Vail Associates and the Colorado State Forest Service, she was at the forefront of the movement to halt the spread of the Mountain Pine Beetle through forest thinning projects, surveys, and public education.




  • Pitkin County Open Space and Trails
  • Town of Snowmass


  • Aspen Valley Land Trust
  • Roaring Fork Conservancy
  • Wilderness Workshop
  • Eagle Valley Land Trust
  • Southwest Land Trust


  • Aspen Ski Co.
  • More than 50 private land owners