Life here is very interesting especially when you compare it to my home town, Las Vegas, Nevada. Before coming here I never had to add on the Nevada part because I thought that was a given; however, truth be told, there is a Las Vegas, New Mexico and if you do not specify people will think you are from a small town in the middle of nowhere. Durango is much different from Vegas in terms of its scenery. The grass is green, the trees are lush, and you can still find snow in the high country. If you had told me a year ago, I would be playing with snow in August I would think you were insane. Nevertheless, Durango is beautiful.
These last two months with the U.S. Forest Service have flown by. My position is traditionally a desk job, but I have gotten out in the field often. I collected water samples with the hydrology crew in the Hermosa Creek, checked air quality in Molass Pass, and visited abandoned mines in the Silverton area. When I’m not in the field, I have met many of the partners the San Juan National Forest works closely with. Mountain Studies Institute, San Juan Mountains Association, and Conservation Legacy are just a few of our partners who have helped make my transition easier. With so many faces it makes it difficult to remember everyone’s name but more often than not there are similar faces at the various meetings I attend. Lucky for me!
In these two months I put on my Latino Conservation Week Event and it was a hit! Thanks to my wonderful mentor, Ben Martinez, I was able to get in contact with the Director of the Boys and Girls Club and pitch my idea. Having worked in the public lands, I began to realize how important it was to educate people how to conserve and protect these areas we hold close to our hearts. After talking with the San Juan Mountains Association, I was able to put together a lesson in Leave No Trace to teach to the kids. After some thought I realized what good is learning these skills if you do not put them into practice, and what better way than to get out on a hike. I arranged the hike on a small but exciting trail not too far from the Clubhouse. With the help of Natural Grocers and Albertson’s I was able to fill over 72 goodie bags for the kids! Overall, it was a wonderful and informative time with the kids.
Durango, Colorado has been an adventure so far and I am beyond grateful I get to experience such a rewarding internship here. Until next time.