Hey folks! This is Whitney from the Natural Resources Defense Council, ASC’s partner in the ongoing series of grizzly tracking workshops in the Centennial Range. I was lucky enough to join Gregg and a great group of volunteers for the first trip last weekend, and we had a blast. We all learned a lot and collected some valuable data, including some hair samples that we can hopefully send to the lab for DNA analysis. For more of my thoughts on the weekend (above and beyond the fact that it rocked), you can read my blog about it here: http://www.onearth.org/blog/tracking-bears-with-citizen-scientists-its-as-fun-as-it-sounds. And be sure to check out some of our volunteers’ blogs, below. That should be enough to convince you to come join us on the September trip (sign up here: www.adventurescientists.org/grizzly.html)! See you in the field!
Multi-tasking is the name of the game in modern society. I received a new lesson in this last weekend when I signed up to go on a three-day camping trip into the Centennial Range in Southwestern Montana tracking grizzlies.
It was one of the last weekends in summer before fall classes start, and I was looking forward to heading into the mountains for a short backpacking trip. When I found out that I could join an ASC group heading to the Centennials to look for signs of grizzlies using the area, I was thrilled. On Friday we made the beautiful drive southwest of Bozeman to our campsite where we slept with the tail end of the Perseid meteor shower blazing above us. The next morning we learned to recognize grizzly tracks and hairs and to distinguish them from those of black bears. We spent the remainder of the weekend hiking the trails and fence lines of the western Centennials on the lookout for grizzly signs. We were rewarded with several DNA samples which will be sent to a lab for analysis, not to mention phenomenal scenery and glimpses of a wide array of wildlife.
With a lesson in tracking and the opportunity to meet some amazing new people, the weekend ended up being much more than a simple camping trip. A day spent hiking can also go a long way towards conservation. ASC certainly met their goal of inspiring “recreational outdoor users to effectively use their time in the wild to advance conservation science.”
I nearly flunked biology in college and don’t really do the “outside” thing, so believe me when I say there couldn’t possibly be a less likely candidate for an intense 3-day hike tracking grizzly bears through the glorious Centennial Mountain Range. And yet here I sit, exhausted but exhilarated, and there’s only one thing I can think about: I want more!
Founder, Executive Director, NatGeo Adventurer of the Year, and wicked harmonica maestro Gregg Treinish challenged me to grow both as an outdoorsman and as a conservationist. I learned to recognize all types of wildlife tracks, traces, hairs, and scats; I learned about the scourge of Blister Rust and the pressure it places on grizzly habitat; I discovered the ethos of Leave No Trace camping; but most of all, I learned that anyone, regardless of experience, can make a difference. That this could be possible, with a group that included such a diversity of backgrounds (everyone from a college biathlete to… well, me, a desk-hugging filmmaker from the prairies!) is a testament to the simple genius that informs all elements of the ASC. So sign up! Get out there! Make new friends! Learn something new! You might surprise yourself.
- Refah Seyed Mahmoud
August 12, 2011
Today I was listening to a book by Douglas Adams, part of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” series. This book was calledMostly Harmless . These two words were, after much editing and re-editing, all that remained of the Guide’s entry on an obscure little blue and green planet called Earth.
But this is all beside the point. What jumped out at me today was a blink-and-you’d-miss-it little gem in a dialogue between Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, who are bickering with each other in their usual manner. It concluded something like this:
Arthur: “I think we have different value systems.”
Ford: “Mine’s better.”
Arthur: “That’s because…. oh, never mind.”
Gathering Moss on Everest: Climbers Rally for Adventurers/Scientists
Written by Alison Osius
[originally published on rockandice.com]
Years ago, when two young twins wandered along the waterways of their Patagonian homeland, exploring, one found a skeleton of a prehistoric marine seal, a new species.
“They named it Benegassorum,” says Willie Benegas, now an alpinist and mountain guide. “Pretty cool!”
So maybe it is a natural that Willie and his identical-twin brother, Damian, this spring joined forces with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, collecting plant samples on Mount Everest, from which they returned in May.
The brothers were able to find moss samples up to 21,350 feet, and “definitely” enjoyed the process, in which they followed delineated protocols. “We only needed to be careful not to contaminate the samples!” Willie recalls. As for getting them home through customs—don’t ask, don’t tell.
Established only in January of this year by Gregg Treinish, 29, of Bozeman, the not-for-profit Adventure Scientists aims to bring together the scientific community and outdoor athletes and adventurers in cooperative endeavors. Its website has already taken off as a resource, seen by about 1000 people a day, and offering such banks as a mentors section.
Himself a 2008 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year for a 7800-mile, 22-month journey across the Andes, Treinish describes his impetus in starting the still seat-of-the-pants organization: “I have often had a very selfish feeling when spending extended periods of time on the outdoors. When I began speaking about this selfish feeling with boaters, hikers, climbers, and others, and realized that it was shared, I decided to create ASC to give folks the tools they need to do more with their time outside.”
ASC’s stated aims are to mobilize outdoors people to help the science community gather otherwise difficult-to-obtain data, to give adventure athletes a means to help conserve wild places, and to promote good decision-making in the wild.
Treinish, who has a BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a BS in Biological Sciences from Montana State University, has also worked as a wildlife biologist and backcountry guide, and through-hiked the Appalachian Trail. On his board are such climbers as Conrad Anker, or the climber-writer Trip Jennings (himself just back from studying elephant dung in the Congo).
Meanwhile, just yesterday two climbers flew from Bozeman to Zurich to repeat Tyndall's route on the Weisshorn in the Pennine Alps. One of the major peaks in the Alps, this sharply ridged 14,783-pyramid outranks the nearby Matterhorn by nearly 100 feet in height. It was first climbed in 1861 from the town Randa by John Tyndall with the guides J.J. Bennen and Ulrich Wenger.
The current crew, Michael Reidy and Dennis Duenas, will be collecting small rock samples for scientists to look at microbes on their surfaces. Dragos Zaharescu from Biosphere 2 at the University of Arizona will conduct that study to determine their varied degradation rates caused by weathering.
Other recent affiliated climbing trips among ongoing projects include:
Clark Corey - Ice-worm collection for Roman Dial on Chugatch Range Glaciers. Returned in June.
Christine Ichim - Collecting similar rock samples as above from the Eiger, Matterhorn and some Aguilles in Chamonix. Still out.
Lonnie Dupre - Hopes to make first solo January ascent of Denali, collecting similar rock samples as above. Leaves in December.
“Ultimately,” says Treinish, “I want to have everyone who goes outside think about what they can do while they are out there. I hope that everytime someone goes and climbs a 14er, they look for signs of pika, that every time someone goes to put up a new route, they think about the chance to protect the area they are in through the collection of sound scientific data.”
Willie Benegas is certainly filled with conviction. "Global warming is here," he says. "I have seen the glaciers of the Himalayas melting under my feet. Finding moss at 21,000 feet is a clear example!”
We need you! Come and track grizzly bears with us in order to protect their habitat. The BLM has said that if we can find signs of grizzly in the western centennial range, we will be able to protect the area. This is an exciting opportunity and you need no experience. It is unlikely that we will actually see the bears so there is nothing to worry about safety wise.
For more information visit the Grizzly Page
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