Friends of the Dillon Ranger District president talks about kids and nature at environmental conference | SummitDaily.com

Friends of the Dillon Ranger District president talks about kids and nature at environmental conference

Alli Langley
alangley@summitdaily.com

Gail Shears, right, board president of Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, recently spoke on a panel about reconnecting kids with nature at the 2014 Shift Festival in Jackson Hole. She was joined by Karen Burns, left, of Island Institute in Maine, and Emily Olson, middle, of Mountain Studies Institute of Silverton, Colorado.

Gail Shears, board president of Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, attended the 2014 Shift Festival in Jackson Hole, where groups and leaders from around North America convened Oct. 8 to 12 to talk about environmental preservation.

FDRD was one of about 35 groups chosen to participate in the conference.

Shears sat on a panel to discuss the topic "The Last Child in the Woods: Reconnecting Kids and Nature," during which she shared statistics about youth participation in forest stewardship volunteer work through the nonprofit.

Of the 4,896 volunteer hours of trail and restoration projects contributed through FDRD this year, 32 percent came from youths, who contributed 23 percent of the 6,735 total hours. Most of the kids' hours were scheduled youth projects.

Ski area sustainability officers from Vail Resorts, Powdr Corp., Whistler Blackcomb, Aspen and Jackson Hole also presented what their resorts have accomplished and what they are planning for the future.

DON'T FORGET THE BATS

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As part of National Bat Week, which begins today, Oct. 26, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced it is asking the public to report the sighting of any active or dead bats this winter.

The national campaign to raise awareness about bats is important to Colorado, which is home to 18 bat species, according to the agency, which will be monitoring hibernation sites this winter for the effects of white-nose syndrome.

The syndrome, caused by the Pseudogymnoascus destructans fungus, is responsible for large-scale bat die-offs in the eastern U.S. The syndrome is named for the white powder seen on the nose, ears and wings of infected bats. The disease has not been found in Colorado; however, since first documented in a New York cave in 2007, it has spread to 25 states.

CPW would like to know of any sites that have hibernating bats so biologists can include them in the monitoring effort. CPW asks that the public not disturb hibernating bats and respect cave closures.

to report sightings, call (303) 291-7771, or email Wildlife.Batline@state.co.us.

All the bat species found in Colorado are insect eaters, in some cases eating thousands of insects a night. This diet of night-flying insects makes bats important for the control of agricultural and human pests.

Learn more about bats and find a list of National Bat Week activities at cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/Bats.aspx.

Please send environment news to Alli Langley at alangley@summitdaily.com.