Colorado National Monument Association

Fall 2022 Newsletter

Message from our Co-Executive Directors

Summer was busy as always up at the monument. International visitors, families from all over the nation on summer break and National Park lovers came to check out our lovely red rock canyons (the entrance station received over 46,000 visitors in August alone). We hear comments daily about how unique our valley is and that the monument is a “hidden gem.” We couldn’t agree more at Colorado National Monument Association (CNMA). We feel so lucky to live here, to find respite in our public lands and to benefit from such a special community.

Colorado National Monument staff is busy with Saddlehorn trail work, invasive species mitigation, increased law enforcement incidents and much more.

Tour of the Moon brought close to 2,000 cyclists through the monument this month and now we’re gearing up for the CNMA Plein Air Art Invitational.

CNMA needed to hire an additional sales associate, Shelby Edens, this summer due to increasing number of monument visitors and she’s been doing a great job in this role and has also taken on CNMA’s social media.

CNMA and monument staff worked with two interns from CMU this summer to produce educational videos and a video specifically for CNMA. CMU funded one intern and the Fruita Rotary Club funded the another intern. We’re grateful for our intern’s hard work, and to both CMU and the Fruita Rotary Club for making this possible. A couple of the videos are linked below. 

CNMA hired a new program coordinator, Karen Mahoney, and we’re thrilled to have her on our team. She has taken over the Walks and Talks programs, the CNMA newsletter, our calendars and more!

We have some exciting projects to announce toward the end of the year, so stay tuned. We hope to see you at the Plein Air Art Invitational and at one of our Walks and Talks this fall. The CNMA annual member meeting will take place in November and we will announce the details soon. We look forward to thanking each of you in person for all of your support this year.

Video link - The Yucca and and Moth - Desert Partners
Video Link - The Pine and the Jay - Desert Partners

Plein Air 2022

The sixth annual Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Event is coming up from October 2nd - 9th 2022.

Artists in Action!

CNMA invites and encourages you to watch the artists in action!

This year CNMA will welcome more than 25 artists from all over the country as they converge to paint the amazing landscapes of the Colorado National Monument and the surrounding BLM national conservation areas including McInnis Canyons and Dominguez-Escalante Canyons.

Artists will paint for five days with their paintings to be hung in a gallery exhibition hosted by Carlson Vineyards Tasting Room, 545 Main Street in Grand Junction; paintings will be on display and available for purchase from October 8 through November 5, 2022.

2022 Event Schedule

● Artist paint-out, Wednesday, October 5, 8am-10am: artists will be painting at the Saddlehorn picnic area in the monument


● Artist paint-out, Thursday, October 6, 8am-10am: artists will be painting at the McInnis Canyons National Conservation  Area, Devil’s Canyon trail network

● Exhibition opening, Friday, October 7, 5pm-8pm: CNMA  members and event sponsors are invited to attend the opening of the gallery at Carlson Vineyards Tasting Room 

 545 Main Street in Grand Junction  



● Exhibition hours are Saturday, October 8th and Sunday, October 9th from 10am - 4pm:  exhibition gallery is open to the public; paintings will remain hung and available for purchase until November 5th

The Colorado National Monument Association that organizes the event is the fundraising nonprofit partner of Colorado National Monument. Proceeds from the event go directly to Colorado National Monument to help fund special projects, scientific research, and educational programs.

Thank you to our generous Plein Air sponsors

  • Timberline Bank
  • Carlson Vineyards
  • Quick Temps, 
  • JP Dental
  • Blick Art Supplies
  • Lithic Bookstore

Arlene Jackson to Retire in October

Everyone at CNMA wants to thank Arlene Jackson for all of her hard work and dedication at Colorado National Monument. She will retire at the end of October as Colorado National Monument’s Chief of Interpretation, Education and Community Outreach.

She’s worked for over 7 years in this position and she has really left her mark on the community and the monument’s visitors through stellar interpretation guidance. She’s also helped with CNMA Walks and Talks, helped conduct interviews, approved products for the gift store, edited countless documents (including these newsletters) and so much more.

She will be missed, but we look forward to seeing her around Fruita or perhaps cross country skiing on the Mesa.

Thanks, Arlene!

After-School Youth Explore

Citizen Science

by Arlene Jackson

Delaney Neal with Riverside Educational Center Students. Photo courtesy of Delaney Neal

National Park Service and Colorado National Monument Association (CNMA) staff are involved in an amazing collaboration to increase educational opportunities for the youth of Mesa County.

For a second year, the monument was awarded a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation to work with the U.S. Department of Education Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Locally, Riverside Educational Center (REC) is a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grantee. REC provides after-school tutoring and educational enrichment at 15 D51 schools.

The monument staff partner with REC to provide exceptional and novel "citizen science" activities for students in preparation for fall and spring field trips to the monument. One of the areas they will be exploring is the impacts of climate change, specifically, the loss of the pinyon pine trees. In the park they will be conducting scientific observations of the environment, which will build on the observations of last year’s students. Last spring's session ended with the students taking on the role of a TV reporter by preparing and presenting a report of what they discovered, complete with the use of a green screen to show their results.

One of the elements that makes this collaboration possible is the involvement of CNMA. They are the fiscal agent for the grant funds. Last year, when the planned VISTA internship fell through, they hired former Park Ranger Payton Parkins as a temporary employee. She assisted the monument’s training specialist, Sam Heinritz, to create the educational materials REC youth leaders used to prepare for the field trips. Many of these same materials will be used again this year.

Feedback from last year’s activities highlighted the importance of the project. Delaney Neal, one of the REC instructors said, “It is so inspiring watching students interact with their local environment while starting to grasp the bigger problem we are seeing with the pinyon pines. They have the opportunity to contribute to the citizen science project through data collection and observation and grow a connection to the local land. It is a really special opportunity.”

This collaboration between the U.S. Department of Education, National Environmental Education Foundation, National Park Service, Colorado National Monument Association and Riverside Education Center is making progress locally toward the goal of improving students’ skills in science, technology, engineering and math.

Join Us in Welcoming our

2 New CNMA Staff Members

Shelby Edens - Sales Associate

Shelby is from Grand Junction, Colorado. She is a student at Colorado Mesa University, where she is studying Film, Animation, and Photography. In 2019, she lived in Orlando, Florida where she worked as an intern for Walt Disney World Resort. She thoroughly enjoyed her time there, but missed the mountains that surrounds the Grand Valley. 

Shelby enjoys reading, creating art, kayaking, and spending time with her cat, Boo. She also participates in the Colorado Mesa University Drumline, and has a passion for music.

Finding Colorado National Monument as a true treasure of Grand Junction, she’s thrilled to be working for CNMA. 

Karen Mahoney - Program Coordinator

Karen is originally from California and moved with her family to Grand Junction in 2009. She has a long history with coffee, being in the coffee business for over 30 years, from Starbucks Coffee to owning her own coffee truck. 


When not at work, she enjoys being outdoors; paddling, hiking, snow shoeing, or XC skiing. Her favorite trail is Serpent’s Trail, she loves the history behind it as well as the views it offers at every turn.  


Karen also loves spending time with her husband and her kids (when they are around!) as well as her 4 rescue dogs and teaching yoga at CMU too!


She feels lucky to have the monument in her backyard and is so excited to learn more about it to be able to share her knowledge with others. 

Social Trails Intern Project

Ben Landolt

Social Trails Update – September- As the summer season draws to a close, and those scorching temperatures finally (fingers crossed) start retreating, I thought it would be a good opportunity to provide a glimpse into all of the work I’ve been able to accomplish for the social trails inventory project up to this point.

For a bit of context, social trails (i.e. informal visitor-created paths) have been identified on public lands across the country as a negative influence on sensitive natural resources and have the potential to facilitate negative impacts to sensitive cultural resources (such as historic homesteads or Native American petroglyphs, in our case). These trails also tend to diminish the wilderness character of their surroundings, which presents an issue here as approximately ¾ of the monument is managed as a wilderness area in accordance with NPS policies.

For these reasons, the monument has made it a priority this year to study the ever-expanding network of social trails within our boundaries, using this newly collected data to inform resource management strategies going forward. To that end, my work thus far has been dominated by time in the field, in which I have wandered to and fro across the canyons and mesas of the monument, GPS-enabled tablet in hand, searching for any signs of trampled soil crust or other indicators of wayward hikers. In some cases, my search is guided (to an extent) as I confirm, or “ground-truth”, potential social trails that were observed on aerial imagery.

More often though, I am simply using my own observational abilities to discover trails as I hike through the park. Upon encountering a trail worth documenting, I can use my aforementioned tablet to not only collect a GPS track for the length of the path, but I can also tie in a host of associated attribute data, such as a preliminary condition assessment and the reason the trail exists, if such information is evident. When I’m not in the field, you can usually find me behind a computer, using GIS software to make sure all of the newly collected data is both tidy and appropriately organized.

For better or worse, it has been quite a fruitful summer for my data collection efforts, with my latest calculation revealing that I have mapped over 50 cumulative miles of informal trails thus far, with yet more likely to follow in the last few weeks of the field season. As I move into the second half of my term here, I'm looking forward to further utilizing the power of GIS to seek out any interesting trends and/or patterns within all of this new trail data. Can’t wait to see what might be uncovered! 

Ben Landolt is Colorado National Monument's year-long social trail intern. This is a Scientist in Park internship made possible by a 12-week financial award from the NPS Scientists in Parks program and the generous support of Colorado National Monument Association to fund the remaining 40 weeks of Ben's internship.

In 2018, Colorado National Monument generously donated two backpacks to Mesa County Libraries. These backpacks included a number of items including a book titled A Naturalist's Guide to Canyon Country, several guides related to the natural resources at the park, a pair of binoculars, a thermometer, and finally, a 7-day waiver for entrance into the Colorado National Monument.

One of those kits can be checked out at the Central Library and the other kit can be checked out at the Fruita Branch. Both Mesa County Libraries and our patrons genuinely appreciated this donation as we feel it improves the lives and experiences of individuals who are enabled to take advantage the wonderful resource that the park offers.

In August of 2022, the Colorado National Monument Association and the Colorado National Monument again made a generous donation of three additional backpacks which included the same items in the original kits.

Have you Heard about our Library Backpack Program?

By Ike Rakiecki

This most recent donation allows for the library to circulate two of those items at the Central Library, two items at the Fruita Branch, and one of those items at the Clifton Branch. This total of five backpacks once again increases the ability for the public to access the Colorado National Monument which is thankfully, right in our backyard in the Grand Valley. During several interactions between Mesa County Libraries staff and our patrons, the feedback and corresponding high circulation statistics related to this program has been overwhelmingly positive and this goes to show that the community appreciates and takes appropriate advantage of these donations.

Big thank you to REI for donating 3 awesome backpacks for this program.

Meet the Board Series -

Melinda Shisim

We appreciate our board members so very much and wanted to take a moment to introduce you to

Melinda Shisim.

Johanna: How long have you lived in the Grand Valley? 

Melinda: Most recently, I moved here in 2013. I previously lived in Fruita from 2001 - 2002.

Johanna: Why are you on the CNMA board? 

Melinda: I am on the board because I love the monument, and want to do what I can to support it, and because I love what CNMA does. We also have a great group and it's a lot of fun.

Johanna: Besides being a deputy district attorney and a CNMA board member, how else do you like to spend your time?

Melinda: I love food, bicycles, and my garden, and I spend a lot of time with my pets. 

Johnna: Do you have a favorite trail in the Grand Valley? 

Melinda:That's a tough question, but Wedding Canyon is certainly one of my favorites. 

Johanna: I know you really enjoy traveling. Do you have a favorite past trip you’d like to share? 

Melinda:Narrowing it down to one favorite is really challenging, but I was able to go to Egypt a couple of years ago and it was incredible.

“Monumental” Holiday Gifts

  by Nancy McGuire

As the heat of summer starts to “Fall” behind us, the holiday season with its many cultural celebrations appears on the horizon just ahead. It is more pleasant to leisurely shop early in the season for those we love and appreciate rather than waiting until the more stressful (and less fulfilling) last minute rush.

A perfect place to find thoughtful and inspirational gifts for anyone of any age, is the Colorado National Monument Visitor Center gift shop! There, our incredibly talented staff ensures that there is something to please everyone - visitors, and local folks alike.

The underlying theme of the gift shop is – classy!

An entire wall is dedicated to gorgeous books, replete with incredible photos that cover topics including natural wonders of the Southwest, culture, history, travel and adventure, geology, and astronomy. And fun and educational children’s books abound.

The gift shop offers an assortment of games and puzzles for fun filled gatherings of family and friends (Jenga, playing cards, Yahtzee, and The Matching Game - all National Park themed of course!).

Apparel items for comfort and good looks are available for all ages including tee-shirts, hats, socks, bandanas, limited edition bicycle jerseys, and Junior Ranger gear.

You can give the gift of relaxation with an assortment of music CDS that feature soothing flutes, sounds from nature, and Native American music.

Adorable plush animals inhabit the gift shop! There is almost nothing cuter than our young shoppers cuddling one of the plush baby bighorn sheep, foxes, bison, various birds, mountain lions, and bears. Kids and grandkids would love to have one move in with them wherever they live.

Practical gifts for campers and hikers can be purchased to enhance the already amazing outdoor experiences for nature lovers.

And artwork abounds! In addition to notecards and frame worthy unique posters of the Colorado National Monument, works by local artists are featured hanging on the wall of the Visitor’s Center for sale. The talent of these artists is unmistakable and would grace the walls of any home.

Speaking of local – the gift shop is meticulous about sourcing locally whenever possible. Some of the more delectable edibles available include Enstrom’s “monument” toffee, a locally roasted special monument coffee, and peach and peach jalapeno jams.

Just a few more reasons to become a CNMA member

Profits from sales benefit the Colorado National Monument and CNMA purchases from local merchants support our economy. Not to use the cliché win-win, but….it certainly applies!

CNMA memberships allow for a general 15% discount on merchandise, AND this discount goes up to 20% during the month of December!

The membership also offers reciprocal discounts at other nonprofit gift stores across the Nation’s parks and national forests. A great gift idea is to purchase a CNMA membership or the America the Beautiful yearly federal lands pass for someone.

A gift from the Colorado National Monument shop truly mirrors the spirit of the holiday season – joy, giving, family, friends, and fun.

SO….make your list, check it twice, and come browse the Colorado National Monument gift shop!

P.S. The view out of the back window of the shop can’t be beat! Take a moment to enjoy it from the back porch or the overlook while you are shopping. You can also take in our new Park movie!

Let's get ready for our Fall 2022 Walks and Talks!

10/09 - Full moon hike - Serpent's Trail

10/20 - Geology Hike - No Thoroughfare Canyon

10/25 - Bat Program - TBD

11/03 - Geology Hike - Serpent's Trail

Plus others!

More information and registration coming soon!

Thank you for all of your support

Donate or Become a Member Today!

Our Corporate Sponsors...

CNMA Board and Staff

John Lintott & Johanna van Waveren- Co-Executive Directors

Sharon Dixon- Office Manager

Camille Jestrovich- Membership Coordinator

Carol Dominguez, Shelby Edens and Nancy McGuire- Sales Associates

Karen Mahoney - Program Coordinator

CNMA Board Members -

Ken Kreie, Mark Swain, Lori Franks, Melinda Shishim, Debbie Kovalik, David Conner, Victor Ketellapper, Michael Paxson,

Kauai Fitt and Danni Langdon.