Plein Air 2022
The sixth annual Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Event is coming up from October 2nd – 9th 2022.
Artists in Action!
CNMA invites and encourages you to watch the artists in action!
This year CNMA will welcome more than 25 artists from all over the country as they converge to paint the amazing landscapes of the Colorado National Monument and the surrounding BLM national conservation areas including McInnis Canyons and Dominguez-Escalante Canyons.
Artists will paint for five days with their paintings to be hung in a gallery exhibition hosted by Carlson Vineyards Tasting Room, 545 Main Street in Grand Junction; paintings will be on display and available for purchase from October 8 through November 5, 2022.
2022 Event Schedule
- Artist paint-out, Wednesday, October 5, 8 am – 10 am: artists will be painting at the Saddlehorn picnic area in the monument
- Artist paint-out, Thursday, October 6, 8 am – 10 am: artists will be painting at the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, Devil’s Canyon trail network
- Exhibition opening, Friday, October 7, 5 pm – 8 pm: CNMA members and event sponsors are invited to attend the opening of the gallery at Carlson Vineyards Tasting Room
545 Main Street in Grand Junction
- Exhibition hours are Saturday, October 8th and Sunday, October 9th from 10 am – 4 pm: exhibition gallery is open to the public; paintings will remain hung and available for purchase until November 5th
The Colorado National Monument Association that organizes the event is the fundraising nonprofit partner of Colorado National Monument. Proceeds from the event go directly to Colorado National Monument to help fund special projects, scientific research, and educational programs.
Thank you to our generous Plein Air sponsors
• Timberline Bank
• Carlson Vineyards
• Quick Temps
• JP Dental
• Blick Art Supplies
• Lithic Bookstore
After-School Youth Explore Citizen Science
by Arlene Jackson
National Park Service and Colorado National Monument Association (CNMA) staff are involved in an amazing collaboration to increase educational opportunities for the youth of Mesa County.
For a second year, the monument was awarded a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation to work with the U.S. Department of Education Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
Locally, Riverside Educational Center (REC) is a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grantee. REC provides after-school tutoring and educational enrichment at 15 D51 schools.
The monument staff partner with REC to provide exceptional and novel “citizen science” activities for students in preparation for fall and spring field trips to the monument. One of the areas they will be exploring is the impacts of climate change, specifically, the loss of the pinyon pine trees.
In the park, they will be conducting scientific observations of the environment, which will build on the observations of last year’s students. Last spring’s session ended with the students taking on the role of a TV reporter by preparing and presenting a report of what they discovered, complete with the use of a green screen to show their results.
One of the elements that make this collaboration possible is the involvement of CNMA. They are the fiscal agent for the grant funds. Last year, when the planned VISTA internship fell through, they hired former Park Ranger Payton Parkins as a temporary employee. She assisted the monument’s training specialist, Sam Heinritz, to create the educational materials REC youth leaders used to prepare for the field trips. Many of these same materials will be used again this year.
Feedback from last year’s activities highlighted the importance of the project. Delaney Neal, one of the REC instructors said, “It is so inspiring watching students interact with their local environment while starting to grasp the bigger problem we are seeing with the pinyon pines. They have the opportunity to contribute to the citizen science project through data collection and observation and grow a connection to the local land. It is a really special opportunity.”
This collaboration between the U.S. Department of Education, National Environmental Education Foundation, National Park Service, Colorado National Monument Association, and Riverside Education Center is making progress locally toward the goal of improving students’ skills in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Social Trails Intern Project
Social Trails Update, September
As the summer season draws to a close, and those scorching temperatures finally (fingers crossed) start retreating, I thought it would be a good opportunity to provide a glimpse into all of the work I’ve been able to accomplish for the social trails inventory project up to this point.
For a bit of context, social trails (i.e. informal visitor-created paths) have been identified on public lands across the country as a negative influence on sensitive natural resources and have the potential to facilitate negative impacts to sensitive cultural resources (such as historic homesteads or Native American petroglyphs, in our case). These trails also tend to diminish the wilderness character of their surroundings, which presents an issue here as approximately ¾ of the monument is managed as a wilderness area in accordance with NPS policies.
For these reasons, the monument has made it a priority this year to study the ever-expanding network of social trails within our boundaries, using this newly collected data to inform resource management strategies going forward. To that end, my work thus far has been dominated by time in the field, in which I have wandered to and fro across the canyons and mesas of the monument, GPS-enabled tablet in hand, searching for any signs of trampled soil crust or other indicators of wayward hikers. In some cases, my search is guided (to an extent) as I confirm, or “ground-truth”, potential social trails that were observed on aerial imagery.
More often though, I am simply using my own observational abilities to discover trails as I hike through the park. Upon encountering a trail worth documenting, I can use my aforementioned tablet to not only collect a GPS track for the length of the path, but I can also tie in a host of associated attribute data, such as a preliminary condition assessment and the reason the trail exists if such information is evident. When I’m not in the field, you can usually find me behind a computer, using GIS software to make sure all of the newly collected data is both tidy and appropriately organized.
For better or worse, it has been quite a fruitful summer for my data collection efforts, with my latest calculation revealing that I have mapped over 50 cumulative miles of informal trails thus far, with yet more likely to follow in the last few weeks of the field season. As I move into the second half of my term here, I’m looking forward to further utilizing the power of GIS to seek out any interesting trends and/or patterns within all of this new trail data. Can’t wait to see what might be uncovered!
Ben Landolt is Colorado National Monument’s year-long social trail intern. This is a Scientist in Park internship made possible by a 12-week financial award from the NPS Scientists in Parks program and the generous support of Colorado National Monument Association to fund the remaining 40 weeks of Ben’s internship.