By Gabi Morey
San Juan Mountains Association
Whether you are new to the area or have lived in the beautiful Four Corners for years, there is something new you can learn at one of the free programs sponsored by San Juan Mountains Association and San Juan Public Lands this summer, led by the staff and volunteers of SJMA.
We wanted to make the outdoors more accessible to everyone this year, especially families, so we have started our new San Juan Family Explorers program. Starting June 4 and running through the Fourth of July weekend, come to the Dolores River Trail to see the first local Story Walk installation I Know the River Loves Me by Maya Christina Gonzalez. This is a beautiful book about a young girls love of a river.
Continuing with the river theme, the next program is June 25 at Cottonwood Park in Mancos. Bring your family here to get your feet wet and investigate the macroinvertebrates (river bugs) that thrive in this river.
Become a Forest Superhero on July 9 and be part of the Families Pulling 4 Colorado, pulling weeds and making your public lands a better place for everyone (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
As the weather gets warmer in the high country, come investigate butterflies and flowers July 16 at Purgatory (email email@example.com).
And, because youll be experts on those, check them out some more July 30-31 on the Family Backpacking trip to Purgatory Flats (email firstname.lastname@example.org). This trip is for families who may feel more comfortable going backpacking with a guide and for those who just like some company.
Our last family program will be Aug. 6, when well be visiting a historic building at an 1877 townsite and learn about early mining life in the San Juan Mountains (email email@example.com).
Toddlers and preschoolers can come on our Little Legs Adventures programs from 10 to 11 a.m. Fridays, June 24 to July 22. Well be meeting at Denny Lake in Cortez, reading stories and learning about the bugs, birds and other critters living there. Older children (ages 6-10) can become Nature Detectives investigating the Dolores River ecosystem from 9:30 a.m. to noon July 11-14.
Adults like to be outside, too (and without kids), so we also have Hikes for Grownups led by Karen Dickson. On June 11, visit Mud Springs near Cortez; on July 9, check out the wildflowers on the Navajo Lake Trail; and on Aug. 6, meander along Fish Creek. Contact Karen for meeting places and times at 394-4862.
If you are in the mountains above Durango, come on one of our Guided Nature Hikes from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 23 to Aug. 18. These free hikes are led by knowledgeable naturalist volunteers and are in partnership with Durango Mountain Resort.
There always is something new to learn about the San Juan Mountains, and our Field Seminars programs help us get there. On June 30, join Rod Cook, La Plata County weed manager, and learn to identify noxious weeds and effective management techniques to get rid of them. This program meets at the south parking lot of Santa Rita Park. On Aug. 20-21, join MK Thompson on an easy backpacking trip for novices to experts. If you have never gone backpacking before (or if you just like the company), this is the trip for you (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Mushrooms and edible plants will be the focus of a hike led by Katrina Blair from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 10. Use these skills on your next backpacking trip. The aspens will be beautiful on a Sept. 17 hike with Larry Eads on the Lower Engineer Trail, where youll learn all about the changing of the leaves. Finally, end the season by going back to the beginning with an amazing geology hike with Jason Hooten at Horse Gulch and Raider Ridge from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22.
Our website always is being updated with new programs and information, so check it out at www.sjma.org. Unless otherwise noted, to inquire about or register for the above programs, call 385-1256 or email email@example.com. All programs are supported by San Juan Public Lands. Thanks to all our amazing volunteers, without whom we couldnt offer all these superb programs. Now get out and learn something new on your public lands this summer.
Gabi Morey is the education outreach director with the San Juan Mountains Association.