Team Epoch is in the second phase of an astonishing adventure. Sonya Baumstein, Oliver Levick, Jonathan Crane and Chris Crane recently completed their 3,000 mile row across the Atlantic, beginning in the Canary Islands and ending in Barbados. This 56 day row was no small feat in itself, but it was just the opening portion of Team Epoch's 400Challenge. On March 15, after just 45 days on land, Sonya and new team members Michael McGovern and Christian Pendleton Thomas began their bike tour from the Mexican/U.S. border to Alaska. When they have completed this leg of their trek, they will kayak the Inside Passage (hugging the coastline from southeastern Alaska to northwestern Washington), and round out the excursion with a through hike on the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail. This is a truly amazing undertaking in preparation, athleticism, and mental stamina.
However, during the planning and execution of rowing the Atlantic, Team President Sonya struggled with how to incorporate science into 400Challenge in order to aid in the conservation and improvement of the areas through which the team would be traveling. After seemingly endless searching, they discovered Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. For the remaining three portions of the expedition, ASC has paired Team Epoch with several scientists who require information from each area. The adventurers are currently photographing and recording the locations of roadkill along their bike route.
Fraser Schilling, of California Roadkill Observation System, is already using citizen science to collect information on animals struck on California's motorways. The website at http://www.wildlifecrossing.net/california/ is available to anyone who wishes to report roadkill in California and upload pictures and information for researchers to review. The goal is to analyze problem areas and collect data that will inform policy and management decisions to reduce animal deaths on America's roads. By identifying carcasses on huge sections of road, Sonya and her team can provide Schilling with a complete picture of their route in a single condensed period of time. Additionally, the team is currently traveling by bike at a rate that affords them the opportunity to identify and examine roadkill that might otherwise go unnoticed. While this is an excellent opportunity for people looking to help out in California, ASC's Gregg Treinish has indicated that roadkill observation is available for other projects nationwide, and for anyone who wants to get involved to make U.S. highways safer for wildlife.
Team Epoch will be collecting data on the other portions of their trip, as well. While kayaking, they will be collecting information for Mike Deas of Watercourse Inc. Deas is currently working through ASC with Rivers for Change on 12 Rivers in 2012, which is exploring California's twelve major watersheds, source to sea. You can learn more about this project by scrolling down to the blog post from March 14, 2012. For the PCT through hike, the adventurers will be working with The Craighead Institute to gather data on pikas.
Epoch Expeditions is a nonprofit wilderness education organization that strives to connect people of all ages with the wild in a variety of ways. Their options for wilderness outings range from weekend team building trips to complete wilderness immersion-- treks of 100 days or more. For more information on Epoch Expeditions, as well as 400Challenge, visit www.teamepoch.org.
If you're disappointed that data wasn't collected during the ocean portion of Team Epoch's journey, you can take heart in the fact that opportunities for adventurer and scientist collaborations will increase as awareness about ASC and the services it provides continues to grow. In fact, Limited Intelligence, the boat Team Epoch used to cross the Atlantic, is being used by four other ASC adventurers who will be attempting the first ever row across the Arctic Ocean. These four men will be collecting data on plankton and whale movement for researchers at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. To learn more about this expedition, see the blog post from March 19, 2012.
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