outdoor recreation

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T-MINUS 5 days until they’re saying goodbye to their host families :(

The Cocle project staff team can hardly believe the participants are in the middle of their final week in their host communities! Many of our communities wrapped up their CBI projects last week while the last few are working diligently to complete the work before the participants leave. We’ve seen many great successes this summer, with several of our communities going above and beyond to complete more than one CBI project! We’ve included a list of all of our CBI projects below- look for your participant’s community name and see what they’ve been up to!

Caño San Miguel- Improving the community school’s kitchen

Paso Real- Reinforcing security at the community school by installing bars on the windows

Bajito San Miguel- Paving an outdoor recreation area at the school for sports and cultural activities

Tucue- Building a fence around the community health center

Bella Vista- **2016 Bevil Grant Winner!!!** Extending the community aqueduct system to bring water to 900 more families & building a community park 

Pajonal Centro- Repairing the community’s Casa Comunal (community house/meeting center) & Painting murals at the school

Rincon de las Palmas- Building a playground at the community school

Membrillo- **2016 Bevil Grant Winner!!!** Improving accessibility of the community health center by repairing the entrance and fence that surrounds the center, building a bridge to allow passage to the center even when the roads flood due to rain, and building a bus stop for those waiting for transport on their way to/from the health center

Caimito- Implementing a community trash program

San Miguel Arriba- Repairing the community’s school fence

Chiguiri Arriba- Building a community sign

Tavidal Arriba- Building an annex to the community’s Casa Comunal (community house/meeting center) to extend it’s capacity

Tavidal Abajo- Building a community bus stop

Pozo Azul- Building a bridge that allows passage when roads flood due to heavy rain

Aguas Blancas- Planting a school vegetable garden to supplement the school lunch program

Vaquilla- Implementing a trash, recycling, and compost program at the community’s school

Oajaca- Improving the community cultural center

Sofre- Repairing the community health center

Aguila Abajo- Finishing the construction of the community’s health center

Sofrito- Building a road for transportation through the community

It’s a hard reality to recognize that our participants will be saying goodbye to their host families and new friends in just a few short days, but we are looking forward to celebrating and honoring all of the relationships that were formed over the summer during our project wide Despedida (going away party) this coming Sunday. Each host family will have the chance to accompany their participant to the project headquarter city for a party and ceremony where they will be honored for their contribution to the success of the AMIGOS project this summer. After the Despedida our participants and staff team will head out for a few days of debriefing where participants will reflect on their summer experience and brainstorm ways to incorporate their growth and development into their lives at home. During debriefing participants will also have a chance to experience some of the fun tourist attractions Panama has to offer like the beach, Panama Canal, and shopping in artisan markets. We are looking forward to spending these last few days with the participants before taking them to the airport on August 2! 


-Chelsea Till, Associate Project Director

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY NATIONAL CONSERVATION LANDS, ORIGINALLY KNOWN AS THE NATIONAL LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION SYSTEM!

On this day in history - March 30, 2009 - President Barack Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. Among other things, the Act established a National Landscape Conservation System, which includes Bureau of Land Management-administered National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, National Conservation Areas as well as components of the National Trails System, National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and National Wilderness Preservation System.

The mission of the National Conservation Lands is to conserve, protect, and restore these nationally significant landscapes that are recognized for their outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values. National Conservation Lands are part of an active, vibrant landscape where people live, work and play. They offer exceptional opportunities for recreation, solitude, wildlife viewing, exploring history, scientific research, and a wide range of traditional uses.

The National Conservation Lands sustain for the future - and for everyone - these remarkable landscapes of the American spirit. As a part of the 15th anniversary celebration this year, our National Conservation Lands team will take over BLM’s national social media accounts on the 15th of each month. Follow each takeover using #conservationlands15. 

Astronomy in New Mexico

New Mexico’s skies are exquisite. The abundance of earth tones is offset by a sky prone to colorful antics. The sky often looks more like a movie set rendered by an artist that might be under the influence of something. Whether at sunrise, sunset or while star gazing, the sky consistently provides the impetus to look up, to look around, to marvel at the clouds, the mountains, the stars. The sky provides a theatrical performance using the sun, the clouds and the moon as players. The show varies by season and time of day, but they consistently command attention and a reverent “wow.”

Hundreds of stars, and the milky way, are readily visible from the cities, but when you drive a short distance away from the lights…the view is resplendent. Seriously. It is “Whoa”…gotta pull over, unbelievable, jaw gaping, off world, surreal magnificence. It can be inspiring, intimidating, overwhelming and more depending on your state of mind. The phenomena of dark sky, coveted by astronomers, is the norm in New Mexico. The soaring mountains allow exceptional views of Venus and Mercury, along with many constellations popularized in native art and lore (like Orion, Gemini, and Taurus).

There is rarely cloud interference, because it rarely rains, which means low humidity eliminating condensation that would impair visibility. It’s the same reason ten percent of the state is visible from the top of Sandia Peak without binoculars.

“Viewing stars against a jet black sky is like diamonds on velvet, and star clusters with points of light too numerous to count fill the eyepiece like fireworks.” ~ Geoff Goins, Park Ranger, founder of Night Sky Adventures

New Mexico skies are so spectacular that an astronomy community has emerged near Silver City. The New Mexico Skies Astronomy Enclave is 20 miles north of Deming, or 30 miles south of Silver City on highway 180, near the City of Rocks State Park. The community has implemented covenants in the homeowner association bylaws restricting light to protect the dark sky phenomena that makes their location special. The New Mexico Skies observatory is next door, making this emerging community a haven for astronomy buffs. There are also rentals available in the area for amateur astronomers looking to enjoy a getaway that involves a celestial light show every night.

Stars-N-Parks hosts family friendly star parties in six southern New Mexico state parks:

  • City of Rocks State Park, Faywood
  • Leasburg Dam State Park, Radium Springs
  • Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus
  • Caballo State Park, Caballo
  • Oliver Lee State Park, Alamogordo

These family star parties offer camping in the state parks, “tours” of the night sky and sometimes visits to an observatory. TIP: You can get a discount if you volunteer to help with the events.

There are numerous options for learning more about the night sky throughout New Mexico. For the sake of expediency, I have included five suggestions below.

1) Very Large Array (Socorro): One of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories. The installation consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped   configuration fifty miles west of Socorro on the Plains of San Agustin 

2) Chaco Culture National Historic Park (between Cuba & Farmington): They host a night sky program with presentations on archaeoastronomy and the role the heavens played in the life of the Chacoan people.

3) Astronomy Adventures (Cerrillos): Provides star tours on the Turquoise Trail with Peter, a park ranger by day, astronomer by night.

4) New Mexico Skies (between Silver City & Deming): Cabin rentals bordering the Lincoln National Forest. Hike by day, stargaze by night.

5) Night Sky Adventures (was Red River, now in Bandelier): Another park ranger by day, astronomer by night. This fellow also taught astronomy at the University of New Mexico Taos branch, though the repetition in theme makes me wonder if park rangers have spent more time looking at the heavens than most.

Whether you get expert astronomy insight or just lie in the back of a pickup, take the time to look up and savor the New Mexico sky.

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CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL

Congress established the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in 1978. The trail represents a monumental conservation effort. Stretching 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico, the CDT traverses a multitude of biospheres, from tundra to desert, each with an enormous variety of wildlife. Additionally, almost 2000 natural, cultural and historical treasures can be seen on this route. As of December, 2015, 85% of the Trail is complete. In New Mexico, 775 miles have been completed, with 80 miles remaining. The 80 miles of incomplete trail can be traveled by walking dirt and paved roads.

The Crazy Cook Monument is the most commonly recognized starting (or finishing) point of the Continental Divide Trail. Due to its remote location, absent lodging or services, Columbus, New Mexico is considered a legitimate alternative for those hiking or biking the CDT. Shuttle service to the border terminus is available from Columbus. For those hiking longer stretches or attempting the entire route, it is best not to leave your car parked at the border.

New Mexico’s stretch of the CDT traverses the Big Hatchet Mountains Wilderness, the Gila Wilderness, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness, El Malpais, the Rio Puerco, the Chama River Wilderness and San Pedro Parks before entering the Colorado Rockies. Retracing the steps of Geronimo and ancient traders, there are historical landmarks to visit along each stretch.

The route is sparsely populated; however, the wildlife is abundant, including pronghorn antelope, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, roadrunner, lizard, javelina and turkey vultures. The vegetation is primarily pinon-juniper, ponderosa pine, cottonwood, aspen, mesquite, leafy aster, prickly pear, and yucca.

Notable towns & sites on the New Mexico CDT include:

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It might be time to plan your trip to Stevens Trail on the North Fork of the American Wild and Scenic River.

The wildflowers were peaking this weekend and lots of people were out. It’s hard to believe that such a wild place is less than an hour from Sacramento. 

- BLMer and photographer Bob Wick   

Stevens Trail is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The trail is a popular year-round hiking trail in the lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Historically, the trail connected the town of Iowa Hill with the city of Colfax, both in Placer County, California. The current trail extends 4.5 miles along the northwestern slope of the North Fork of the American River Canyon.  

A New Adventure

Starting today I am going to start looking into places I would like to internship and volunteer for the summer. States I am concidering so far are: Here (Colorado), Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Whyoming. I’m still stuck inbetween wanting to go into The Wildlife Exology side of my degree, or the Outdoor recreation side. I’m hoping that this adventure will help me into an awesome experiance and really figure out the path I would be most conforatable going on.

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Happy Birthday, Colorado! On this day in 1876, Colorado became a state; we celebrate with a amazing photos from Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area - one of our favorites. 

The scenic quality of the Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area in Colorado is outstanding due to the interaction of mountainous landforms; multi-colored rock strata; diverse vegetation; and vast, open vistas. Handies Peak itself rises 14,048 feet over the area and is the highest point of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management outside of Alaska. This WSA also hosts 12 other peaks that rise over 13,000 feet, three major canyons, numerous small drainages, glacial cirques and three alpine lakes. The landscape a variety of volcanic, glacial and Precambrian formations. A rock glacier formation is also located at the head of American Basin.

This is an area perfect for hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain climbing and photography.  Guaranteed to inspire!

Photos by Bob Wick, Wilderness Specialist for BLM’s National Conservation Lands