Last week featured my first trip out to Teller County for Palmer. I had heard that Palmer protects a huge swath of land around Divide, but didn’t understand the true extent of their project to protect the Pikes Peak view. Virtually the entire area between Divide and Catamount reservoir is conserved! Catamount Ranch Resource Protection Area alone is over 1,000 acres – not a small Monday morning assignment. It took four hours and eight miles of hiking to traverse just a fraction of the property. While only part of the property is open for public recreation, I was fortunate enough to explore beyond those boundaries. With a GPS and old maps in hand, I found a network of historic trails in great condition despite decades of closure. My journey brought me to the wildflower-speckled Big Elk Meadow before I decided to head the threat of a looming thunderstorm.
The only issue apparent with the property was an infestation of western spruce budworm. While the Colorado Springs area is dealing with tree death and defoliation caused by Tussock moth, Teller County’s pest causes a very similar problem. Unfortunately, aerial spraying treatments are costly, and many land managers can do little but hope that the pest will pass with time. We’re lucky to have so much public land available to us, but it’s important to remember how many resources they take to upkeep.
Throughout the rest of the week, I’ve continued to tackle the GIS project, gradually working through all 118 easements. I think I’m on track to finish by the end of this fellowship (in two weeks!) Here and there, I turn my attention to Instagram. Social media is much more time consumptive than I originally imagined. I can see why most organizations have staff people or entire departments specifically dedicated to engaging social media. We launched our first photo contest last week, so tag #palmerlandtrust on any pictures of your adventures on Palmer-protected properties. If chosen, you’ll get one of our great Palmer ballcaps.