A friends group of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument has been awarded two grants to support environmental education and to monitor wilderness study areas.
Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance received a $1,000 grant from the Walmart Community Grant program to continue youth education and visitor programming.
In 2019, SCCA hosted 1,800 schoolchildren at the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor’s Center and Museum or at Sand Canyon for cultural heritage, visit with respect, and leave-no-trace activities.
“The Walmart Community Grants Team No. 966 in Cortez are dedicated to supporting work in our community that makes a positive local impact,” states a news release. “SCCA looks forward to continuing to engage the community in caring for and protecting our landscape through volunteer programs, service projects on public lands, and working to foster the next generation of land stewards by providing educational and outreach programs for students of all ages.”
The Conservation Lands Foundation awarded the monument friends group $5,000 for a program that helps to monitor three wilderness study areas in the monument totaling 32,000 acres including Cross Canyon, Squaw-Papoose, and Cahone Canyon.
“Our volunteers stewards are trained to monitor the WSA’s to help preserve their wilderness area characteristics,” said Diane McBride, Alliance managing director. “We help the BLM know what is happening out there.”
She said overall, the monument’s wilderness study areas are in “fairly good shape” with not a lot of damage. There have been some reports of illegal ATV use on non-designated routes, and invasive weeds need to be controlled in some areas.
The goal is to have at least one steward in each of the three WSAs monthly. Stewards hike in or go by horseback into the rugged areas that have limited trails and often challenging public access.
Work of stewardsStewards share information with each other on where they have gone and how they have been able to access areas, McBride said. They scan the areas with binoculars and fill out reports that are turned in to monument and BLM officials.
The group is seeking more volunteer stewards. Training to become a wilderness study area steward will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 6 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 14. For more information and to register, email McBride at email@example.com
The Alliance also manages a Cultural Site Stewardship Program in cooperation with the monument.
SCCA has 65 volunteers who monitor 105 cultural sites. Most are on Canyons of the Ancients, but four are at the Mud Springs area, six on Mesa Verde escarpment, and three in Durango area.
Special photography exhibitSouthwest Colorado Canyons Alliance will host a sneak peek of the “Capturing the Canyons” exhibit from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 24 at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum just west of Dolores.
The special exhibit will feature the landscape photography of the current Canyons of the Ancients artist-in-residence, Lanny Wagner. Wagner will also be on site to provide background and insights into how he captured views of the landscape and glimpses into the ancient architecture of Canyons of the Ancients.
Refreshments and appetizers will be provided. Musician Bentley Monk will provide live music. Participants will also have the opportunity to bid on goods donated by local businesses and creations by local artists in a silent auction.
Cost for the show is $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. Register online at bit.ly/onwardfoundation. Proceeds benefit the artist-in-residency program and education initiatives coordinated by Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.
Silent auction items include an Alpaca raft, made in Mancos; Osprey Packs, based in Cortez, and a snowcat adventure tour from Purgatory Resort.