2017 Stream Explorers in Salida

Photo: Tom Palka

The underwater habitat of the Arkansas River is a fascinating, diverse ecosystem with unending avenues for exploration. A group of 5th through 8th graders did just that this May through a GARNA and Trout Unlimited Program called Stream Explorers. The students met for 4 weeks, performing a variety of experiments and relating their inferences to what they observed in the Arkansas. “This is a scientific inquiry-based program,” says Tom Palka, a volunteer teacher with Trout Unlimited. “We guide the students to ask the questions and then to design the experiments they should conduct to answer them. In other programs, experiments are often conducted in a ‘do this experiment this way and tell me the answer’ but we encourage curiosity and imagination and let the students drive the process.” The goal of this program is that students will ask and answer questions they have about the river ecosystem and in the end, become better stewards of the unique river habitat.

The first week, students studied aquatic invertebrates, insects that hatch and develop in the river before flying off above water as adults. They performed a variety of behavior tests to observe whether insects prefer light or dark, warm or cold, or are surface or bottom dwellers. Then then related their studies to actual insects, looking to see what they could find in the shallow waters near the banks of the Arkansas. By looking at how these invertebrates develop, we realize they are a good indicator of water quality, as well as an important part of the food web for the trophy fish we hoped to see in the Arkansas. Plus, catching, identifying, looking at the life stages of these strange creatures turned out to be loads of fun.

The second week, students focused on what is needed in the habitat of a fish. They monitored gold fish respiration to make observations about the relationship of dissolved oxygen and water temperature. Each student spent time perfecting a unique habitat for a gold fish to take home with the goal of providing the fish’s necessities to live until the next week!

The third and fourth weeks, we put the research on where insects live and what fish need to the test!  Students learned to tie flies in the traditional method although a preference for neon colored flies seemed to be a trend. They learned about the parts of a fly rod, how to tie knots, and how to cast. Finally, each student used his or her fly rod and the flies they tied to catch a trout at Kelly’s Pond outside of Buena Vista; this is a private pond stocked with fish and a great learning environment for new learners.

Photo: Tom Palka

This is the 3rd year GARNA has partnered with Trout Unlimited to offer this program in Chaffee County. The series will also be offered in Buena Vista June 26 – 29.

A huge thank you to Keith Krebs, President of the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited, for helping coordinate, to volunteer teachers Tom Palka and Mike Perry, and to the Kelly Family and the Hi Rocky Store for allowing us to use of their stocked pond for beginner fishing. Salida Rec supported the program through assisting with registration, Youth and Family Initiatives and the City of Salida supported the program by allowing us to use space in the Touber Building. Colorado Parks & Wildlife provided a grant to offer each student who completed the program their own fly rod.




Spring 2017 Youth Ecological Literacy Fieldtrips

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Salida Middle School 6th Grade Spring Service Field Trip – Thursday, April 27

Caboose

Mr. Williams and Ms. Dyers 6th grade classes learn about the history of the railroad including the importance of the Monarch Spur from local historian and musician, Jack Chivvis.

The goal of this field trip was to provide students a better understanding of the ecology and history of the Monarch Spur trail, a converted rail to trail, and to allow students to take part in restoring a portion of the trail though an annual service project. The 6th grade Salida Middle School class spent their day learning and serving at hands-on stations along this important trail in Salida on one of the most unique weather days this Spring; we experienced rain, 65-and-sunny, sleet and snow all in the time period the students were outside! The students did a great job and enjoyed the day despite the challenges the weather may have presented.

trailwork

6th Graders take turns cleaning trash, pulling weeds, and planting native seeds along the trail as a part of their restoration project.

Students learned about native and nonnative species that grow along the trail corridor from Salida Trail Ecological Restoration Project (STERP) director, Buffy Lenth, and completed their own restoration project removing litter, preparing soil, and planting native seed. They also learned more about the ecology of the area through a station exploring the soil in Ditch Creek, participating in a birding scavenger hunt and building models of aquifers to look at underground water sources here in the valley.

Midday, we had the opportunity to hear from two local historians. Jack Chivvis enlightened us about the early days of the railroad in Salida when the Denver and Rio Grande were the lifeline of the community and the Monarch Spur was used to support important mining efforts. Becky Donlan shared information about the lives of the Utes, including navigation signs they used during migration in the valley and seeing examples of the tools they carried with them.

GARNA partners, Lucy Waldo with Upper Arkansas Conservation District and Ronni Vitullo with Guidestone host students at the soil station giving them the opportunity to perform tests for pH and nitrogen and checking for living organisms in soil.

A huge thank you to Becky Donlan, Native American Research & Preservation, Inc., Jack Chivvis, Salida Historian and GARNA volunteer, Liz Hahnenberger, BLM Royal Gorge Field Office, Wes Cochran, GARNA volunteer, Buffy Lenth, Salida Trail Ecological Restoration Project Coordinator with the Central Colorado Conservancy, Rachel Conroy, Boys & Girls Club Chaffee County, Lucy Waldo, Upper Arkansas Conservation District, and Ronni Vitullo, Guidestone Colorado. We couldn’t do it without our great partners and volunteers!

Longfellow Elementary 3rd Grade Spring Service Field Trip – Thursday, May 4

The 3rd grade of Longfellow Elementary gathered at Sands Lake for four environmental education stations designed to engage the senses, hone scientific exploration and encourage stewardship. Enjoying the vista of Mount Shavano and the rushing waters of the Arkansas, students participated in an Art in Nature Station where they used their senses to connect what they saw, heard, and smelled to beauty in nature and what we can learn from it. Students enjoyed quiet time to draw the beauty around them. On the other side of the lake, the US Forest Service led a station on Caring for Public Lands where students watched a fun skit about Leave No Trace principles cleaned up micro-trash that disturbs both wildlife and water quality in Sands Lake and the Arkansas River.

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The Mountain Zone Fire Crew give students a chance to try out gear on their engine.

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Students collect aquatic invertebrates from the Arkansas River at the Wildlife Station.

Students studied wildlife by dissecting a trout and collecting aquatic invertebrates from the river. They also practiced their fishing skills with a fishing station in the lake. A final station taught about forestry and wildfires.  Students learned about trees from BLM foresters and how the how fires are fought on public lands from the USFS Mountain Zone Fire Crew. Students enjoyed inspecting their gear, the engine, and practiced using the water hose! There was even a surprise visit from Smokey Bear during lunch.

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3rd Grade Students learn about Leave No Trace from the Forest Service before spending time cleaning the trails around Sands Lake

Many thanks to: Jen Swacina, US Forest Service, Salida Ranger District,  Claire Powmesamy, Southwest Conservation Corp, Stephanie Shively, US Forest Service, Salida Ranger District, Craig Reeder, US Forest Service, Salida Ranger District, Sean Shepherd, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bryce Hofmann, Bureau of Land Management, Royal Gorge, Linda Erikson – GARNA volunteer, Jody Bol, GARNA Board member, Liz Hahnenberger, Bureau of Land Management, Royal Gorge, Jeremiah Moore, Bureau of Land Management, Royal Gorge, John Markalunas US Forest Service, Salida Ranger District and members of the USFS Mountain Zone Fire Crew.




2016 GARNA Annual Report

2016 GARNA Annual Report




Camp Friday Winter 2017: Wilderness & Survival Skills

From GARNA’s Youth Coordinator Emily Henderson:

As part of Salida Recreation’s Friday Enrichment Series, GARNA offered a 2-week session focused on Wilderness and Survival Skills January 27 and February 3. The program was open to students ages 5 to 8 and met in Chisholm Park.

The first week we investigated what you should carry if you are hiking or camping in the back country by going through the parts of a pack. The students put together a mini survival kit they took home to add to their own backpacks. We then talked about fire safety at home and in the backcountry. Students helped collect tinder and kindling to start a one match fire, practicing building their own arrangement of sticks to logs. As a group, we got our actual fire started and enjoyed cooking pigs in a blanket. The students did a great job and luckily we had warmth because the temperature only warmed up to 21 degrees during our 3 hour session!

Building shelterWe focused on building shelters during the second week of wilderness camp. Students built their own lean-to structures covered in spruce boughs and then spent some time inside investigating how warm, comfortable, and wind protecting their shelters really were! We practiced making our own cordage, a somewhat tricky task for 5 to 8 year olds, but some really got it and enjoyed it. Finally, we built paint brushes using spruce needles, feathers, pine cones, and dried flowers to try our hand at natural painting utilizing the unique textures of our brushes.Finished shelter

natural paintbrushThe students are really enjoying learning these hands-on skills. They offered stories of experiences they have had in the wilderness and brainstormed how knowing these skills will help them in the future. It’s awesome to watch curious minds explore what life as a Native American would have been like making their own rope and how they can puzzle piece logs to build a shelter. The students do a great job of working as a team and love spending every minute they can outside! GARNA will host a third session of Camp Friday on April 7 and we plan to take the students on an exploratory hike in our public lands!




Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers Become Certified in First Aid and CPR

UAWV cpr trng

UAWV cpr trngThe numerous members of GARNA (Greater Arkansas River Nature Association) have many talents they bring to this valley. One GARNA member, Bob (Robert) Meyer, helped expand the skills of seven more GARNA members recently. Meyer, a certified trainer who works with the Chaffee County Fire Protection District, provided members of the Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers (UAWV) with their First Aid Certification and CPR training in November, 2016.

The training included instruction in the latest methods of CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and First Aid treatment and was strongly recommended by the Forest Service in consideration of the work done by UAWV in the Forest Service wilderness areas of Chaffee County.

UAWV members often work in crews of 2-3 people in remote areas of the County clearing fallen trees, relocating drainage, rebuilding trails and cleaning up campsites on behalf of the Forest Service. These remote areas are far from first aid resources. The goal of the training was to provide UAWV members with the skills necessary to save a life in the event of an injury or emergency while performing their work in these remote areas.

The seven newly-certified people also learned how to use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and were trained in the latest methods for handling wounds, bites, heat and cold related injuries, poison emergencies, head, neck and spinal injuries, broken bones and sprains, burns and electrical injuries, and other injuries—all types of emergencies that might occur working in the wilderness areas of Chaffee County. One attendee, John McCarthy, said, “Bob was an excellent instructor! He provided practical examples of how to apply First Aid skills from his years of experience as a firefighter/EMT. He instilled a ‘Yeah, I can do this’ attitude in me.”

CPR and basic First Aid training are essential skills for anyone heading into the back country. It is important to remember we live in a rural county where emergency response may be 15-30 minutes away. In the case of cardiac arrest or significant injury, it could mean the difference between life and death. “Most folks are unsure of what to do in an emergency, other than call 911,” said Kate Garwood, a training coordinator with UAWV. “But this training provided all of us with information and skills we will need immediately to help save a friend’s life until Search and Rescue or EMTs arrive.”

Costs for the training were covered, in part, by a grant received from the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance (NWSA) through its “Boots on the Ground” program. The NWSA is building a nationwide network of volunteer organizations that provide stewardship for America’s enduring resource of wilderness. Its vision is to see each wilderness area in the National Wilderness Preservation System adopted by a wilderness stewardship organization, like UAWV, dedicated to protecting, restoring and nurturing the area’s wilderness.

UAWV, a chapter of GARNA (Greater Arkansas Nature Association), was one of only 19 organizations nationwide to receive a grant through NWSA.




2016 Photo Contest Winners

pondering-ponderosa



Fall 2016 YELP Programming

3rd grade fall 2016

GARNA’s Youth Ecological Literacy Program (YELP) goals are to foster environmental stewardship and to encourage young people to explore careers within the field of natural resources. The program provides science-based, experiential activities and education through school field trips, career exploration, enrichment programs, and summer camps. The goal of the school-based programs is to tailor lessons for each grade level, both to bolster students’ academic knowledge through hands on experiences and to raise the next generation of youth with a better understanding of stewardship and what makes their environment so unique.

Longfellow Elementary 3rd grade Fall Field Trip – Wednesday, September 28

3rd grade fieldtrip

GARNA board member, John McCarthy, teaches 3rd grade students how to navigate using a compass to complete a scavenger hunt.

Longfellow Elementary third grade students hiked along the Monarch Crest Trail and visited the Maysville Picnic area September 28. They learned from community experts including the US Forest Service Geologist, Anthony Davila and volunteer naturalist, Sally Waterhouse, as well as other GARNA volunteers. As a part of their pre-trip lesson, students learned both how compasses work and compass navigation and had the opportunity to put those skills to use through a compass scavenger hunt. Additionally on their field trip, students learned about the habitat and adaptation of bats, the Continental Divide and glacial formation of the area, and ecology of subalpine and alpine life zones. Students hiked along the Crest Trail giving them great views and access to an extensive outdoor classroom.

We would like to thank all our volunteers for teaching and making the day a great success: John McCarthy: GARNA Board member, Sally Waterhouse: GARNA volunteer, Anthony Davila: US Forest Service, and Nancy Powers, GARNA volunteer. We would also like to thank the Longfellow Third Grade Teachers:  Morgan Love, Mark Tameler, Jaime Giorno, and Carol McIlvaine, as well as the parent chaperones who supported each class.

As a part of their ecology study this October, the Salida High School Biology students participated in an in depth water study of the South Arkansas River.  Heidi Slaymaker and Candace Bryans’ classes completed the study with partnership from GARNA and Trout Unlimited.

Salida High School Biology classes at SARELC – October 3 and 4

Students completed their study at the proposed South Arkansas River Ecological Learning Center (SARELC) in Salida. The location is important ecologically as it receives water from 6 tributaries upstream before the survey area and is relatively near the location where the water joins the main branch of the Arkansas River. This survey location gives students a chance to analyze water used for local irrigation and to study the water that flows through town along many businesses and residential areas of Highway 50 before entering the Arkansas River.

Students completed 4 assessments as a part of their stream study to analyze the health of the river. They completed a habitat assessment and vegetation plot, assessing the area as a wildlife habitat for providing varied food and shelter and looking for evidence of erosion.  Students used the depth of the water in various locations to determine the stream’s velocity so they could compare their data to other survey locations along the South Arkansas. They collected and observed macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects) as an indicator of river health. Lastly, they performed an array of water quality tests collecting data on the amount nitrates, phosphates, dissolved oxygen in the water, the presence of E.coli and heavy metals, and the river’s pH level. The water quality tests in combination with the other assessments provide great data to discuss the overall health of the stream and how human impacts may have influenced the data they collected. This project was made possible by a Partners in the Outdoors grant from Colorado Parks & Wildlife / Colorado Parks & Recreation Association.

 

The students did a great job in this outdoor learning laboratory: wading through the river, collecting insects from under rocks, and sometimes having to take a break to warm their hands from the cold river water just to write their data.  We would like to thank Heidi Slaymaker for inviting organizing the program and to Keith Krebs and Eric Heltzel of the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited for devoting time to partner in this great opportunity!  We look forward to next fall!

Salida Middle School 6th grade Fall Field Trip – Thursday, October 6

The Salida Middle School 6th Grade Class gathered at Mount Ouray State Wildlife Area on October 6, a beautiful and windy fall day to engage in outdoor learning. The Youth Environmental Literacy Program (YELP) focuses of the day included erosion and the rock cycle, GPS navigation, and riparian ecology with a focus on aquatic insects and birds. The students participated in stations led by the US Forest Service, Trout Unlimited, Chaffee County 4H, and the Bureau of Land Management.

6th grade fieldtrip

Salida 6th Grade students build erosion tables as a hands on way of learning about the watershed.

Right from the students’ thank you notes:

“It was really cool that we actually got to get in the river with those boots so our feet didn’t get wet. My favorite thing about the field trip was when we caught the bugs in the Arkansas River.”

“Thank you so much for letting us come up there and learn and have a great experience.  I had so much fun using the GPS to find the flags because it was fun to use a navigation system to find things.”

“Thank you for letting us go on this field trip.  It was the most fun I had this month.”

A special thank you to our volunteers: Sean Shepard: US Forest Service, Justin Abeles: Bureau of Land Management, Christy Fitzpatrick: Chaffee County 4H, Keith Krebs and Eric Hetzel, Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Paul Smith: GARNA volunteer, as well as the 6th grade teaching team: George Mossman, Jean Dyer, Cory Scheffel and Michael Williams, and the parent chaperones

Avery Parsons Elementary School 4th grade Fall Field Trip – Friday, October 14

4th grade fieldtrip

Avery Parsons 4th graders learn the conditions to form a fossil and the kinds of fossils that are present in Colorado from AHRA Volunteer Geologist, Bob Hickey.

This fall marks the first year GARNA has had the opportunity to offer a Youth Ecological Literacy (YELP) Field Trip to the 4th grade classes at Avery Parsons Elementary in Buena Vista. Thanks to GARNA memberships and additional funding through the Every Kid in a Park Initiative (EKiP), the 4th grade was able to spend a full day learning at Ruby Mountain Camp Ground with no cost to the students or school district. GARNA hopes field trip will become an annually offered program.

During the day, the students rotated to 4 stations throughout the newly renovated campground and also on a trail leading them into Browns Canyon. Students engaged in the following stations; Fossils: how fossils are formed and what fossils tell us about Colorado, Our Watershed: Colorado’s transmountain diversion tunnels and erosion models, Navigation: how a compass works and a compass scavenger hunt, and a Reflective Hike: a discussion on the formation of Browns Canyon as a National Monument and what makes the location so unique.

Students enjoyed lunch along the bank of the Arkansas River and participated in a communication game demonstrating the teamwork that goes into forming and protecting our public lands. The students’ curiosity and enthusiasm for learning were an invaluable factor into making this field trip such a great day!

Thank you to our many volunteers: Jamie Tackel, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Molly Pitts, GARNA volunteer, Bob Hickey, AHRA Volunteer Naturalist, Linda Skinner, Bureau of Land Management, Logan Myers, GARNA Board Member and Friends of Browns Canyon,  Bill Dvorak, Friends of Browns Canyon, Jeanne Younghaus, GARNA Volunteer. Additional thanks to the Avery Parsons 4th grade teaching team: Dave Bott, Heidi Atha, Kathy Keidel, and Lisa Seeberger.




Photo Contest People’s Choice Award

Infant Mule Deer

People’s Choice Award – GARNA Photo Contest 2016




GARNA comments on proposed amendments to Chaffee County Land Use Code

GARNA Logo newAugust 2016: The GARNA Board of Directors voted to submit a letter in response to proposed amendments to the Chaffee County Land Use Code.

GARNA Letter – submitted August 22, 2016

The Chaffee County Heritage Area Advisory Board / Collegiate Peaks Scenic & Historic Byway Board also voted to submit a letter

Heritage Board Letter – submitted August 24, 2016

Public Notice of proposed changes




Get Outdoors Leadville/Rocky Mountain Youth Corps/GARNA partnership

Funding from CO Parks & Wildlife/CO Parks & Recreation Assocation Partners in the Outdoors grant allowed GARNA to partner with Get Outdoors Leadville! (GOL!), Lake County’s GOCO Inspire Initiative, to pilot a partnership with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) during the summer of 2016. We worked with Loretta McIlheney of the USFS and Mineral Belt Trail (MBT) Board to determine service, ecological and learning goals for a restoration project on the MBT. During two weeks in July, two different RMYC youth crews worked on restoration projects on the trail and GARNA provided an educational component. The Mineral Belt Trail is a community connector and serves as a living laboratory to explore human impact and ecology through historical and natural areas.