Outdoors – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Fri, 08 Nov 2019 16:36:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 Kimple awarded CSFS Partner of the Year http://www.pagosasun.com/kimple-awarded-csfs-partner-of-the-year/ Sun, 10 Nov 2019 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190680

Aaron Kimple

By Teddy Parker-Renga
Special to The SUN
The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) has recognized Aaron Kimple with its Partner of the Year award for 2019.
Kimple is the Forest Health Program director and San Juan Headwaters Program coordinator for the Mountain Studies Institute (MSI), based in Silverton, Colo., and the coordinator of the Two Watersheds-Three Rivers-Two States (2-3-2) Collaborative. He also serves on the Colorado Forest Health Advisory Committee.
The CSFS recognized Kimple as its Partner of the Year for his exceptional assistance in fostering healthy forests in Colorado through communications, outreach and support of the CSFS’s goals, strategic priorities and mission. His work with MSI contributes to stewardship of diverse forest environments in the state, and his service on the Forest Health Advisory Committee advises the CSFS and its many partners on managing Colorado’s forests for present and future generations.
“Aaron is a forest facilitator. He convenes partners together to move joint projects forward,” said Mark Loveall, supervisory forester for the CSFS based in Durango. “He is an excellent organizer and leader of meetings to ensure all parties get something out of them.”
For example, Kimple helped to bring awareness of forest health to the San Luis Valley by organizing two Bridging the Divide education events at Wolf Creek Ski Area.
The award was presented at the CSFS’s annual meeting last month in Estes Park.
“This award reflects the quality of the partners I get to interact with every day,” mentioned Kimple upon receiving the award, “and demonstrates the great culture of partnering that has been cultivated in southwest Colorado. We should celebrate the people that commit to participating in collaborative efforts, offering time and energy to support our communities. Without them this would be a lonely business.”
For more information about Kimple’s work with the CSFS, please contact Loveall at 247-5250 or Mark.Loveall@colostate.edu.

Bird of the Week http://www.pagosasun.com/bird-of-the-week-106/ Fri, 08 Nov 2019 16:36:35 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190754

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the sora.
The sora is another marshland bird that can be seen here by the patient observer. Spotting this colorful bird may require waiting for it to emerge from dense vegetation to feed in the open. Loud calls from deep within the cattails, especially during breeding season, can alert you to its presence and induce you to stick around.
An adult sora is a small, chubby bird with a mottled brown back, black and white banding on the underside, and a gray face with a black mask. Its thick, stubby, yellow bill distinguishes it from the similar Virginia rail whose bill is longer and orange. Long toes allow the sora to walk on floating vegetation and are used to rake the bottom for food. Its short tail is usually held upright, exposing white undersides.
Inhabitants of freshwater wetlands with cattails, sedges and rushes, the sora feeds primarily on seeds, but also eats invertebrates, including snails, dragonflies, flies and beetles.
Soras are the most numerous and widespread members of the rail family in North America. Although they are known to migrate long distances, as far as Central and South America, for the winter, our warm water wetlands along the Riverwalk allow at least a few individuals to stay here well into winter.
Like many of the bird species identified in Audubon’s recent report, “Survival by Degrees,” the sora’s range is predicted to shift north in a warming climate.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

Outdoor club to hold monthly meeting http://www.pagosasun.com/outdoor-club-to-hold-monthly-meeting/ Thu, 07 Nov 2019 22:00:55 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190683 By Wendy McAllister
Special to The SUN
The San Juan Outdoor Club (SJOC) will be holding its monthly meeting Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse, 230 Port Ave.
The speaker will be Jeb Baxter. Baxter is a member of the SJOC, a geologist and professor emeritus of physical science/geology. He will present a talk titled “The Earth After Us: If aliens visit earth after 100 Million Years, what evidence will they find from today’s Humans?”
The talk will include techniques and methods for discerning planetary history.
Light refreshments will be at 6 p.m., with the program presentation at 6:30 p.m. Guests are welcome.
For more information, see the website, sanjuanoutdoorclub.org, or the Facebook Page: sanjuanoutdoorclub.

Students take to the hills to monitor mascot, the American pika http://www.pagosasun.com/students-take-to-the-hills-to-monitor-mascot-the-american-pika/ Wed, 06 Nov 2019 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190192

Photo courtesy Keith Bruno
Sixth-graders from Pagosa Peak Open School set out from Wolf Creek Pass on an uphill climb through early-winter snow along the Continental Divide Trail with their teacher, Kelsey Wright, and Audubon Rockies’ Community Naturalist Keith Bruno on Oct. 23 to initiate a long-term monitoring plot for their mascot, the American pika.

By Keith Bruno
Special to The SUN
On Oct. 23, 13 sixth-graders from Pagosa Peak Open School set out from Wolf Creek Pass on a 1-mile uphill climb through early-winter snow along the Continental Divide Trail with their teacher, Kelsey Wright, and Audubon Rockies’ Community Naturalist Keith Bruno to initiate a long-term monitoring plot for their mascot, the American pika (ochotona princeps).
A little-known creature of the Rocky Mountain high country, the pika has been tagged as a sensitive species to the onset threat of a warming climate. This member of the order lagomorpha (which includes hares and rabbits) relies on the cooling shade of large rocks found among alpine talus fields to temperature regulate their denning areas. They feed on the young stems of grasses and flowers found nearby to their territories. They do not hibernate and, thus, spend the majority of the warmer months gathering foods to cache in “haypiles” to provide winter forage.
The Mountain Studies Institute, a mountain ecology research organization located in both Silverton and Durango, has worked as a regional contributor to Rocky Mountain Wild, the lead organization on the pika monitoring project, to offer a citizen science reporting portal for the San Juan Mountains.
Citsci.org allows folks to “adopt” a site and make observations, confirming occupancy of pika in public lands locations. The information obtained by project participants, including weather measurements, terrain characterization and photos of surroundings, provide project partners with the necessary information to determine how pika populations fluctuate over time and catalog general phenological data for alpine environments.
After a 30-minute period of focused observation for visual and auditory detections of pika, the students set about noting GPS coordinates and weather, taking measurements of boulders on-site, looking for sign of new and old haypiles, and identifying other animal species nearby. These students will upload their data online and continue to manage the pika plot for future years.
To get involved in the project, visit http://www.mountainstudies.org/pikanet.

Pagosa Ranger District clears 85 percent of summer trails http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosa-ranger-district-clears-85-percent-of-summer-trails/ Tue, 05 Nov 2019 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190243

Photo courtesy Bob Milford
Dr. Rob Lambert presents Pagosa Area Trails Council (PATC) President Bob Milford with a check for $10,000. The San Juan Outdoor Club is making the donation to PATC’s “Clear the Trails Campaign,” which will be used as a cash match for grants that could help the effort to clear downed trees from Pagosa area trails.

By Paul Blackman
Special to The SUN
With the help from numerous partners, volunteers, permittees and other community members, the Pagosa Ranger District managed to clear 85 percent of its summer trails during the 2019 season.
This amounts to over 400 miles of trail cleared of beetle-killed spruce trees, avalanche fields, rockslides and other downfall.
This banner year for trail work — complicated by a heavy snow load and late melt-off in the high country — could not have happened without the dedication and contributions from so many individuals and groups, both within and outside the Forest Service.
Faced with an increasingly daunting task of trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up with the extent of downfall on its trails, the district welcomed the assistance offered by partners and groups in coming up with additional resources to address the overwhelming situation. While the Pagosa District has received help from external sources in performing trail maintenance for many years, by the end of the 2018 season it became apparent that ground was (literally) being lost in the effort to keep its system trails open. A new or modified approach to the problem was clearly called for.
Starting in earnest in December of 2018, district personnel began to revisit trail data, conduct extensive analyses to gain potential work efficiencies and to hold regular meetings with core community members dedicated to addressing the problem. A detailed strategy was ultimately developed for the 2019 season and beyond, which aimed to have all Pagosa District trails opened within three years: an ambitious goal, given that at the time roughly only 50 percent of district trails were free from obstructions and conditions appeared to be worsening.
By spring of 2019, the initial planning and analysis efforts documenting the extremely difficult field conditions appeared to be paying off, as additional funding for trail work was provided to the district in the form of grants, awards, increased forest and regional-level allocations for crews and other types of support.
Crews were eager to begin the heavy lifting in May, only to be delayed several weeks due to heavy snowpack. Reconnaissance flights and early trail scouting indicated numerous extensive avalanches that would further compound the undertaking. Concerns were mounting that, despite the additional resources and strategic planning, actual progress on the ground could be considerably curtailed.
With the majority of crews now having left for the season, field data collected during the summer has revealed accomplishments above and beyond some of the rosiest predictions made during the spring. All told, 6,300 trees were cleared from trails (3,300 by cross-cut saw), 406 miles of trail were opened, more than 3,050 hours of volunteer and partner labor were logged, and only 15 percent of the district’s trails are currently obstructed by downfall.
Next year will again present significant challenges, as beetle-killed trees will continue to fall on trails for years to come. But, additional financial and other resources are being lined up for the future — including a new partnership with Wolf Creek Ski Area and the National Forest Foundation wherein a portion of season ticket proceeds will be donated to fund youth trail crews.
The district is optimistic that with continuing support and ongoing refinements to its program of work for trails, it can reach the goal of clearing all summer trails in the next two years and keeping them open for years to come.

Bird of the Week http://www.pagosasun.com/bird-of-the-week-105/ Sun, 03 Nov 2019 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190297

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the sharp-shinned hawk.
If you witness an explosion of birds fleeing your feeders, it may be the result of a sharp-shinned attack. Songbirds make up 90 percent of a sharpie’s diet, which surprises its prey by streaking in from a hidden perch to grab a meal. If one becomes a persistent pest in your yard, taking down your feeders for a couple of weeks may be the only way to convince it to move on.
Sharp-shinneds are the smallest hawks found in Canada and the United States. They are members of the accipiter genus, comprised of forest hawks with short, broad wings, long tails and a typical flight pattern of three to six wing beats followed by a short glide. They are acrobatic flyers capable of navigating dense woods at high speeds.
Like many hawks and owls, the female of this species can be one-third larger than the male. Adult sharp-shinned hawks are blue-gray above, have red-orange barring on the chest, small heads, thin legs and small feet. Immature birds have brownish backs and brown-streaked undersides. Their long tails have broad dark bands with a narrow white band at the squared end. The tail of the nearly identical, but larger, Cooper’s hawk is more rounded. These two birds are very difficult to tell apart.
Sharp-shinned hawks are one of the many bird species adversely affected by DDT moving up the food chain before its use was banned here. Some still have high levels of DDT from preying on songbirds that winter in South America, where this pesticide is still in use.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

Pagosa Ranger District and Rio Grande National Forest plan to burn slash piles http://www.pagosasun.com/pagosa-ranger-district-and-rio-grande-national-forest-plan-to-burn-slash-piles/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 21:00:38 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190223 Special to The SUN
The Pagosa Ranger District is planning to burn slash piles in the following locations: Turkey Springs (Forest Service Road No. 629), Cabezon Canyon (Forest Service land adjacent to Archuleta County Road 917) and Colo. 151 area north of Southern Ute land.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Local nonprofits help ranger district clear area trails http://www.pagosasun.com/local-nonprofits-help-ranger-district-clear-area-trails/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 21:00:10 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190246 The Pagosa Area Trails Council (PATC), in partnership with other organizations, helped the Pagosa Ranger District clear 85 percent of its summer trails during the 2019 season.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

DUST2 team wraps up season at state championships http://www.pagosasun.com/dust2-team-wraps-up-season-at-state-championships/ Sun, 27 Oct 2019 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=189813

Photo courtesy Amanda Gadomski
After qualifying for the Colorado High School Mountain Bike State Championships, sophomore Davis Parker took 61st place out of a field of 150 riders in Durango last weekend.

By Amanda Gadomski
Special to The SUN
DUST2 finished the season with the Pagosa Springs DUST2 mountain biking team competing at the Colorado High School Mountain Bike State Championships in Durango last weekend, finishing 14th out of 30 Division 3 teams.
The team qualified six riders for this year’s championships: freshmen Carter Kasson, Ethan Bergdolt and Tucker Mashue; sophomores Sawyer Blakemore and Davis Parker; and junior Brae Bergdolt.
In all, over 800 high school athletes raced through the 6.5-mile loops on Saturday and Sunday in sunny but cold weather. The Durango course hosted the event for the second year in a row, taking riders over private trail built just last year as well as public trails that are part of the Telegraph trail system. With the lack of recent moisture, the course was dry and dusty, challenging riders’ abilities to maintain control on sharp corners and build up speed during straight sections of trail.
Brae Bergdolt, racing his first year in the varsity category, capped a strong weekend for the Pagosa team, finishing his four laps totaling 26 miles in 31st place. His time of one hour, 54 minutes and 21 seconds put him 15 spots above his starting position. He overcame a crash on one of the dusty, loose corners in which he flew over his handlebars. Despite the crash, he had one of his best rides of the season and has positioned himself well to move up the varsity ranks in his senior year.

Photo courtesy Amanda Gadomski
DUST2’s freshman rider Carter Kasson finished in 78th place in Durango last weekend, wrapping up the season for the team. The team finished 14th out of 30 Division 3 teams.

When asked about his race, Brae Bergdolt responded, “I was proud to represent the South Conference and Pagosa Springs as varsity rider at state. This is a sport that you get out what you are willing to put into it.”
He finished by adding, “I was happy to end the season with such a strong finish.”
Brae Bergdolt, along with the rest of the field, spent the race chasing Riley Amos of Animas High School in Durango and Robbie Day of Evergreen High School. This summer, both Amos and Day were named to the USA Cycling team to represent the country at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Canada. While the two U.S. teammates battled throughout the race, trading leads over the first 20 miles, Amos pulled away to win the race in the last few miles, leaving Day to settle for second place.
Sophomores Blakemore and Parker rode earlier Sunday morning, finishing in 45th and 61st place out of a field of 150 riders.
Parker was particularly happy with his race, saying, “I felt like I left it all out there today.”
Before the race, he set a goal of “holding my spot and finishing as good or higher than I start,” which he accomplished by finishing 14 places in front of his starting position.
Blakemore noted that he really enjoyed the race because he was able to work with a rider from another team.
“We both took turns drafting off each other coming up the hill in the wind,” he recalled. “It made the hill a lot easier, both because of the break from the wind, but also to have someone to talk to makes the uphill go by faster.”
DUST2’s freshman riders kicked off the weekend on a chilly Saturday morning with Kasson turning in one of his best races of the year and Ethan Bergdolt and Mashue battling their health.
Kasson used his starting position at the front of the second wave to pick up 19 spots, moving from 97th all the way up to 78th place.
“The race course was a good mixture of climbing and downhill,” said Kasson. “I was fortunate enough to be in the front of the second wave to start. This helped me avoid a bottleneck with all the other riders behind me,” he added. “I felt like I had a good race and placed well, which will help going into next year.”
Ethan Bergdolt and Mashue both came down with illnesses last week, but fought through them to complete the 13-mile race.
“I could tell they were hurting, but I was really proud of each of them to go out there and finish the race,” coach Andy Guinn said. “That’s not an easy course if you’re healthy with all the uphill and dust. It takes a lot of heart to push yourself through that extra pain of racing sick.”
This wraps up the season for the DUST2 team, its second year of high school competition.
Team Director Janine Emmets was excited about the sustained success of the team, noting, “We gain more middle schoolers every year to grow our high school racers.”
Emmets is already looking forward to building on this year’s momentum, saying, “It has been inspiring how our high schoolers have gotten stronger and faster every year, pushing their limits. The coaches are all really proud of all they have accomplished this season.”
Emmets explained that the DUST2 team is open to all fifth- through 12th-graders and no prior experience is necessary. She also noted that all ages participate in practices and high school riders can choose to compete in races. DUST2 offers scholarships and bikes to athletes who need them, and Emmets added that the team is particularly looking to add more female riders next year.
Registration for the 2020 season opens in May and information can be found at dustx2.com.

Bird of the Week http://www.pagosasun.com/bird-of-the-week-104/ Sun, 27 Oct 2019 11:00:06 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=189909

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the American pipit.
On first glance, it’s fairly easy to mistake the American pipit for another “robin-sized” ground-foraging bird. However, these birds are uniquely adapted to nest in colder climates and thus spend the majority of their time either in Rocky Mountain alpine environments or in tundra farther north. They situate their woven cup nests on the ground in scree fields, rock crevices and other hardscrabble spaces. Nestlings are tough and can endure late winter storms.
During breeding season, one is more likely to spot individuals up in the high country. Come late fall, they transition into flocks and move down to lower elevations to glean insect larvae from shallow water sources (edges of streams and lakes) and mud flats, and seed from recently disturbed agricultural fields. Their feeding behavior oftentimes involves abrupt changes in direction and tail “wagging.”
Adults in breeding season have tannish, almost cinnamon underparts and are grayish-brown on the back. Immature birds and adults out of breeding season have almost sparrow-like plumage with varying degrees of streaking on their breast. Their whitish throats are oftentimes framed by V-shaped dark lines on either side of their neck.
During these winter months, look for a white eye-ring and faint white eyebrow. Pipits can be distinguished from other similar birds by their slender build, pronounced neck and shortish bill. Their whitish outer tail feathers are visible in flight.
Pipits have a repetitive song that sounds like a softened car alarm. In flight, however, they will express a shortened high-pitched “pi-pit” call.
These birds have suffered from loss of wetland habitat during migration and on their wintering grounds. Partners in Flight estimates a population decline of 30 percent since 1970. Get out and look for these birds at the edges of water over the next several months.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.