Spring 2017 Youth Ecological Literacy Fieldtrips


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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