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Colorado Native Plant Master: Tunnel Drive in Canon City

May 16 @ 8:30 am - May 30 @ 12:30 pm

A three week series of classes on native plant identification in the field. We will identify 40-60 plants throughout the course.

Schedule: May 16, 23 and 30 from 8:30AM-12:30PM. Participants must attend all three classes for course completion.

Park Description: Tunnel drive is a beautiful, flat walk that parallels the Arkansas River. There is a vault toilet at the trailhead, but no bathrooms beyond that. The trail is fairly flat and even after the first hill.

We will introduce you to 40-60 plants, using family features and a botanical key to help identify species. Ecological relationships, human connections and the potential to use some of these plants in your landscaping will be discussed. In addition, we will emphasize understanding noxious alien plants and the challenge they present to our native environment.


Irene Shonle is the Horticulture Specialist for El Paso County, and has taught Native Plant Master classes since 2003. She has a PhD in Ecology, and has been with CSU Extension for 23 years. She is passionate about using native plants in the landscape, and has a large native plant garden at her house.

Prerequisite: A basic botany class is suggested for those who would like to refresh their botanical knowledge and is highly recommended for those who have minimal background. There will be two free Zoom classes taught by Lenore Mitchell covering Basic Botany and Plant Families, offered by the Foothills to Plains NPM Program in April, which you can register for at the link below, to satisfy this requirement:

Basic Botany-April 4, from 4:00-7:00pm

Register in advance for this webinar:


Plant Families-April 11, from 4:00-7:00pm

Register in advance for this webinar:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Native Plant Master: Participants who pass three NPM courses will receive a Native Plant Master Certificate. This 12 hour class fulfills 1/3 of the 36-hour coursework requirement towards certification as a Native Plant Master. Courses should be taken in different months and/or vegetation zones. Learn more here.

Required Textbook: Flora of Colorado by Jennifer Ackerfield. (The 2nd edition (2022) is preferred if you need to buy this book, but the 1st edition (2015) is OK because students will be given a list of changes between the 1st and 2nd editions for plants studied during the course.) Available through the Colorado Native Plant Society bookstore (https://conps.org/conps-store), local and online retail outlets, and the publisher (800-621-2736).

When/Where to Meet: Meet at the vault toilets at the trailhead. Class will begin at 8:30am sharp. On the first day, please arrive 15 minutes early. Google Maps pin: https://maps.app.goo.gl/iKgcEvvpNxckv97B7

What to Bring: Flora of Colorado by Jennifer Ackerfield; hand lens (10X or greater) available through https://conps.org/conps-store; daypack; bug spray; water; sack lunch; rain, sun, wind protection; personal restroom items.

Special Instructions: Please come prepared for moderate walking on hot, cold, windy, snowy or rainy days. Class will meet regardless of weather conditions.

Location Address: 205 Tunnel Drive, Canon City CO, 81212

Contact Irene.shonle@colostate.edu with questions.


May 16 @ 8:30 am
May 30 @ 12:30 pm


205 Tunnel Dr
205 Tunnel Drive
Cañon City, CO 81212 United States