We lucked out with beautiful blue skies this Sunday, as the Greenway Leadership Corp (GLC) explored the many outdoor opportunities Barr Lake State Park has to offer. Before parking, we had already seen three Bald Eagles perched along the lake and a Kestrel flying overhead.
Barr Lake is home to 12 miles of hiking trails, archery ranges, a wildlife refuge, viewing stations and an interactive nature center!
To start the morning off, Michelle Seubert, a manager of Barr Lake and a Parks and Wildlife Ranger, put us to work restocking water, birdseed, and peanuts for wintering birds. We then had the opportunity to see our work in play as we sat inside the visitor center, which has a large gazing window and a speaker system that picks up the sounds of the birds outside. We sat in awe as the blue jays flew in and took their favorite snack, peanuts.
Then we were off on an open-air vehicle tour of the park, when we learned about the importance of the area. Barr Lake is not only a fantastic bird viewing area but also an important water source to local farmers and wildlife. Snow from the Rocky Mountains melts and converges into the South Platte River which is then diverted into the Burlington Ditch that feeds into Barr Lake.
Following our ride around the park, we stopped at the archery range to learn the safety and essence of the sport. Ranger Brian tested our skills as novice archers as we practiced hitting the target - which was harder than it looked! We all of walked away with a better understanding of archery and a sore shoulder.
We finished with a fun service project that included cleaning up their 3D hunting range, with targets shaped in various animals, including Jackalopes and Alligators!
As DPS settled into fall break, SPREE couldn’t help but wonder what some of our favorite Colorado cats and canines are up to. Not the ones that live in our homes…. But the ones that live in the WILD! Turns out, we have many different wild cats and canine species in Colorado, and they are each adapted extremely well to survive here!
The Greenway Leadership Corp (GLC) had a blast road tripping to Ft. Collins to learn about stewardship with the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) at Colorado State University. ELC is located on 100 acres of woodland and prairies, working to connect people with nature through environmental education. Aaron and Ally, two students at CSU, taught us the basics of orienteering in nature. Students were split up into three teams and tested their skills with a race to find all the orange flags hidden in the forest. We saw some great teamwork and orienteering to find all 10 flags!
Have you ever thrown up a handful of maple seeds and enjoyed the show of dozens of helicopters spinning around you? There is a special specie of maple that grows along the South Platte River- box elder or boxelder maple. These trees produce helicopter seeds that are on full display in this time of year.
200 years ago, the Cheyenne tribe that lived in present day Denver would have used the bark of the box elder to make bowls. They would boil the sap into a candy as well. While today we may gravitate towards sweeter treats, we can still enjoy the beauty of a boxelder maple and we can repurpose box elder seeds into a fun, fall decoration!
First, we practiced using binoculars & magnifying glasses. It did not take long before campers found a juvenile red-tailed hawk perched on a street light eating prey... and with the start of camp, the bioblitz began! Campers found that binoculars allowed them to see wildlife that was far away and hard to see with the naked eye. Magnifying glasses were great to look at small critters that were on the ground or on plants. Using these tools, campers saw organisms big and small!
Holiday Camp is back in swing! On Friday, campers joined SPREE at Johnson Habitat Park for a day camp focused on trees. Trees make the air we breathe, but just what kind of trees grow around the South Platte River in Denver?
We started off the day investigating that question. Campers pointed out that there were lots of trees around camp, and when they looked closer they identified that we had both deciduous trees and evergreen trees. Deciduous trees lose their leaves, and were hard to identify- though our cottonwood trees have colorful attached leaves still! We were able to identify cottonwood trees, oaks, and box elder trees (by the helicopter seeds that are so much fun to toss in the air in fall!). The evergreen trees keep their needles all year so we were able to identify pine and spruce trees planted in our park!
On Saturday, the Greenway Leadership Corps (GLC) woke up early to drive to Deckers, a popular fly fishing location along the South Platte River nestled near Pike National Forest. There, we met up with folks from Denver Trout Unlimited (DTU). DTU is the Denver branch of a nation-wide non-profit dedicated to the conservation of freshwater streams, rivers, and associated upland habitats for trout, salmon, other aquatic species, and people.
Each school year, The Greenway Foundation works with ten juniors and seniors from KIPP Denver Collegiate High School. These students are selected to train as environmental educators through teaching on SPREE excursions, helping at a day of SPREE holiday camp, and participating in Greenway Leadership Corps (GLC) events.
Our new River Rangers just finished training with us at Johnson Habitat Park, where they will help at camps, and Overland Pond Park, where they will help teach all of the activities in our 5th grade excursions. Training included an overview of environmental education, their roles and responsibilities as interns, and several team building challenges where they had to communicate and work together to succeed. As you can see from the pictures above, they rose to the occasion.
The River Rangers will assist SPREE staff on four excursions during the school year. Their first one will be in two weeks, and we could not ask for a more excited and entertaining group of students to act as leaders and educators for 5th graders.
This past weekend was the first annual Youth Exploring Stewardship (YES) Conference. The conference was organized as a way to bring together high school aged students from the Front Range who are interested in environmental stewardship. The YES Conference was designed as a leadership experience, where youth leaders from around the Front Range can…
Did you know that for several years The Greenway Foundation has adopted two parks along the South Platte River? In the course of the year, we've hosted service programs with third graders through our SPREE program, with high school students through our Greenway Leadership Corps (GLC) youth programs, and with adults through our large and small volunteer events.
Check out how many people have been involved and how many hours have been donated to our local parks!
We still have a few more SPREE programs scheduled for this year, so our donated hours will continue to increase as the year goes on!
We also are able to work with organizations to create smaller volunteer programs throughout the year. Please contact our Volunteer and Events Director, Lauren Berent at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about creating a program.