Colorado National Monument Association

Spring 2022 Newsletter

Executive Directors Message to Members

Hello Community Members and CNMA Supporters,

We are thrilled to be able to connect with all of you and to keep you updated on projects and support that you make possible!

I’ll start off by thanking all of you for rising up to help the monument when Nathan Souder and I reached out about seasonal employee housing. Wow! We were stunned when moments after sending the email, we had community members responding with such a variety of potential housing opportunities. Thank you all for your kindness and generosity. We are so lucky to have such a supportive community and we’re thrilled to inform you that we believe we have housing for all of our seasonal hires thanks to all of you!

I will continue our messages of gratitude with a shout out to the Rotary Club of Fruita who gifted CNMA with funds for a video intern through Colorado Mesa University. We are really excited to see what kind of virtual content this talented young adult can produce! We also love the opportunity to give college students a unique and meaningful experience in a National Park.

Thanks also to the Rotary Club of Grand Junction for once again naming CNMA as a beneficiary of the BANFF Film Fest in Grand Junction. This club’s generosity is incredible and they’ve helped accomplish so much at the monument.

Ramblebine Brewing Company and Colterris Winery have also donated funds through the sales of their artisan and locally produced libations. We’re excited to announce this trend will continue. Join us May 5th for the next Ramblebine Beer Release party featuring an extra special lager with proceeds benefiting CNMA. Thanks to these wonderful local businesses!

CNMA has agreed to support Colorado National Monument with $130,000 in 2022 in direct aid and this is a huge deal! This is also due to all of you! We wouldn’t be able to provide so much support if it wasn’t for our members, community donors, and other generous donations and support. This translates to a lot of amazing projects happening in Colorado National Monument. From America the Beautiful passes for new citizens to a year-long social trails intern to so much more!

CNMA and Colorado National Monument are so grateful, and we’re wishing everyone a very happy spring season!

All my best,

Johanna van Waveren

CNMA Co-Executive Director


Quick Saddlehorn Update

Saddlehorn Amphitheater is now deconstructed! This was an exciting and big step in the project!

The first step was to carefully remove a large mirror that was formerly used to reflect ranger slide programs from the projector to the screen. Then piece by piece this historic structure was taken apart.


Each piece of wood that can be re-used will be recycled for later use. The mirror is stored with the hopes a new home and purpose can be found for it.


Thanks to the volunteers that helped remove nails from boards.

Our neighbor the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light years away, is visible on a moonless night from the Colorado National Monument as a faint smudge in the sky (credit: Terry Hancock, Grand Mesa Observatory, Whitewater, CO).

Is It a Star or a Planet?

by Nancy McGuire

The night sky has been a target of human curiosity since early man observed the sky with wonder….and fear. Eclipses of the moon and sun, comets, and meteor showers, the scientific causes of which could not be understood at the time, instilled dread of possible coming apocalypses.

Luckily, modern technology has allowed mankind not only to view the night sky without fear and appreciate it in all of its majesty, but also to explore further and further into the universe and to realize our place in it. In only 400 short years we have gone from not even knowing how many planets are in our own solar system, to now understanding that there are countless planets around countless stars in the universe.

The Colorado National Monument is one of the Grand Valley’s great places to do some night sky observing. On moonless nights, the Milky Way can be seen arching overhead, a sight that may be a first for many of those who come to this magical place from other states and countries, and indeed even from some of our local communities.


The monument will be soon starting seasonal astronomy programs that are held on weekends. Our rangers, in conjunction with volunteers from the Western Colorado Astronomy Club pair up to let visitors view night sky objects including planets, galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters through several different types of telescopes.

Additionally, informative laser guided sky tours of the constellations, that are enhanced with some stories from mythology about those constellations, offer visitors the chance to learn the night sky.

During these events, the importance of night sky preservation is also discussed. Education about dark sky preservation is the first step in preventing the loss of our dark night sky.

There is a band of official dark sky sites that crosses parts of Colorado and Utah. It is hoped to expand the number of sites that are part of this most important effort. Colorado National Monument has the chance to “be part of the wave”.

Astronomy and the Grand Valley seem a natural fit. Our skies are still relatively dark - on the outskirts of populated areas that is. Unfortunately, the Grand Valley is headed down the light polluted path of many areas before it. It is impossible to hold night sky viewing events in or near local towns and cities. The glare of light takes away any possible view of the Milky Way and all but the brightest stars and planets.

The upside – light pollution IS preventable! Our residents and tourists can possibly continue to enjoy dark skies - provided that steps are taken to prevent ongoing light pollution and to mitigate existing light pollution.

The assorted astronomy resources of the Western Slope have been working together to promote astronomy education and to offer hands-on opportunities for residents and visitors alike to experience the night sky and mankind’s connection to the universe. This includes the Western Colorado Astronomy Club, the Black Canyon Astronomical Society, Grand Mesa Observatory, and the Colorado National Monument. These same groups now have the chance to work together to prevent and mitigate light pollution in the Grand Valley and surrounding areas.

It is hoped that, with a lot of hard work, we can ward off the fate of most populated regions and keep what nature has given us – our amazing dark skies!

Whether local to Western Colorado, or visiting, we encourage people not only to look around at our incredible scenery, but also to look up at our other amazing natural resource – our night sky!


Nancy is a Colorado National Monument volunteer and Western Colorado Astronomy Club President. She's very knowledgable and we're lucky to benefit from her stellar skills.


Spring Walks and Talks

Geology Hikes into Kodel's Canyon with Don Regan- March 31 and April 2

These hikes are completely full!

Poetry Workshop with Danny Rosen- April 14

National Park Week- April 16-23

-Discovery Day and Fee Free Day on April 16

-Junior Ranger Day on April 23

Yoga in the Monument with Karen Mahoney- April 21

Botany Hikes with Stephen Stern- May 2 and May 11

Ramblebine Beer Release Event- May 5

Bird Walk with Cary Atwood- May 10

Family Bird Walk- Cary Atwood- May 14

Colorado National Monument's Birthday- May 24

More information and registration coming soon!

April is Poetry Month, so here's a poem from our friend,

Danny Rosen of Lithic Books...

Making Fire

Cullen arrived before the day

with his yucca stalk, cottonwood root

and cedar fluff that we blew into flame.

Under a green tree we looked at the gray sky

talked about not much, sat until it was time to go

then we got up and went

at the start of the shortest day.

Day broke and we took our arrows out.

Warm with meat, Cullen

squatted by the fire on a bluff near the river

iced over in midwinter, no gloves, no coat

like the wooly men of colder times...

standing still on their cave slopes

looking silent for long spells

gripping sticks ground to spears

running with dogs beside the beast

screaming, stabbing, dodging tusk

taunting with a sap torch

leading the herd toward a rock drop-off.

Before dark I saw Cullen

twist his spear into the soft

at the top of the chest

just below the trunk-head.

He stood his ground, thinking

to stand his ground, and to thrust it in.

Beast and man, reeling, running away

watching death descend, making fire

by the river’s bend, under Orion’s frozen sky

rubbing his hands, Cullen thinks of warmer times.

Monuments and Canyons at the Art Center

"The Colorado National Monument Association and The Art Center of Western Colorado present the Monuments and Canyons Exhibition of Art. The display follows the Monuments and Canyons Plein Air event held in October 2021, where selected participants from all over the nation came to take in the region’s stunning landscape and capture its beauty through color and form. After the event, participating artists returned to their studios to further develop the works painted or inspired during their experience at the Monuments and Canyons event. This exhibition is a rare glimpse into the wonder of plein air painting and its culture."*

Do yourself a favor and go check out the amazing art that depicts your beloved monument! This event takes place March 4- April 9.

"This exhibition showcases the drama and beauty of the incredible public lands surrounding the southwestern natural boundary of the Grand Valley consisting of Colorado National Monument and the adjacent BLM lands." - John Lintott

*These words are from The Art Center of Western Colorado


By Payton Parkins

Beginning October 2021, the first grant collaboration was marked with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), Riverside Educational Center (REC), and the Colorado National Monument.

The purpose of this NEEF grant is to incorporate STEM programming through the U.S. Department of Education’s Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) during after-school and non-school hours. STEM programming through this grant engages students to connect with their environment using techniques and tools that are used outside of school. Students are given the opportunity to actively explore and better understand the natural resources in their region.

In the early development stages of the program, we had to ask ourselves, “What role could middle school students play in engaging with local environmental issues?”

Over the last several decades there is growing evidence that a mass tree mortality event is occurring in our region among Piñon pine. Colorado has had more frequent years of below-average precipitation, as well as warmer late summers and falls. These weather patterns create ideal conditions for Piñon ips beetle and other bark beetle species. Beetle activity and reproduction can begin as soon as temperatures consistently reach over 50 degrees. Warmer climate and decreased moisture are far more problematic for the trees, however. Stressed trees have a difficult time defending themselves and succumb to beetle infestations easier. Colorado National Monument has an impressive display of old-growth Piñon pine and Juniper woodlands, and unfortunately, like most PJ forests in the southwest, the Piñon pines are being noticeably affected by Piñon ips beetles. Given this, the NEEF grant activities have been centered around the question, “What challenges do Piñon pines face, and what is the implication of their decline?”

There are four local middle schools currently involved with the grant program. Grand Mesa Middle School, Bookcliff Middle School, Mount Garfield Middle School, and Orchard Mesa Middle School. Each school has participated in field trips to the Colorado National Monument as well as activities in classroom settings over the last several months.

In January each middle school received an “Activities Document.” This resource included activities and lessons spanning from Tree Dichotomous keys, literature readings, ecological relationship puzzles, to climate and weather graphing exercises. These activities were designed to provide important background information into the complexities of the Piñon-Juniper ecosystem as well as how climate can further impact the local resources. REC instructors choose from the variety of topics provided in the document to prepare students for field trips to the Colorado National Monument. Also included in the “Activities Document” are supportive discussion tutorials for educators and staff to implement during the activities.

Figure 1: Ips beetle maze

included in “Activity Document.”

Creation by Payton Parkins

Figure 2: Title page for Field Trip

 Activities included in “Activity

 Document.” Creation by Payton


In January Sam Heinritz, NPS Training Specialist, and myself, the Project Coordinator for the Colorado National Monument Association, accompanied REC groups on their first field trip to the Colorado National Monument. Students completed sight-seeing BINGO sheets on the bus and took photos at different locations throughout the park where they noticed stressed Piñon pine trees. To make the field trip a little more fun, we framed the day as a “Mission Assignment”. Each bus stop included several missions to be completed. Like taking specific photos or finding a landmark from an aerial photo.

Figure 3: Students from Orchard Mesa Middle School posing for a photo at the top of the

Upper Serpents Trail in the Colorado National Monument.

We have some exciting events planned with the middle schools in the upcoming months. Students will get to partake in the monument’s 2022 fire mitigation efforts. The park’s new mitigation project will involve removing vegetation that could increase fire risk around structures. The structures and buildings around Saddlehorn campground, the Visitor Center, and employee housing will be the primary focus of the project. REC students will record the current health of each Piñon pine in the 30-meter fire perimeter. We’ve included Ips beetle signs in their data collection as well. Signs of Ips beetle infestations include pitch tubes, galleries, exit holes, and fading needles, characteristics that REC students have been educated on how to identify. All data collected will be done using handheld tablets. This will give them the opportunity to use devices and programming that many agencies use for data collection. Their data provide important health information to park staff as well. When park staff begin the process of pruning and removing hazardous material, the collected data can be used to see if those efforts are causing more harm to Piñon pines over time.

We are also looking forward to getting the REC students together in April and May to discuss with local experts what they’ve learned. Deb Kennard of Colorado Mesa University and Kami Long with the Colorado State Forest Service have both been a tremendous help in providing us with educational material and help along the way. They’ve both agreed to assist in the discussion activity with students. Sam Heinritz and I, along with the REC staff are also in the process of developing a wrap-up activity for students to participate in.

Overall, working with the students and staff at REC has been a real pleasure. The park continues to be a great source of education and research for all sorts. We hope that this grant collaboration can be continued for further citizen science projects in the future.

Special thanks to Deb Kennard of Colorado Mesa University, Kami Long with the Colorado State Forest Service, Riverside Educational Center, Molly Murphy, and the Resource Stewardship and Science Division staff at the Colorado National Monument. They have all been essential in providing assistance and background information throughout this project.

Taft Tidbits

by Mary Sommer

Colorado National Monument was designated such on May 24, 1911 by William Howard Taft. You may know he was the 27th President of the United States, however there are many additional tidbits that you may be interested to learn about he and the First Lady Helen Herron Taft.

  • He was the only president to ever serve as chief justice of the Supreme Court, 1921-1930, appointed by Warren G. Harding. He was also the only former president to swear in an incoming president. While serving as chief justice, Taft administered the Oath of Office to Calvin Coolidge in 1925 and Herbert Hoover in 1929.

  • He was the first president to throw the 1st presidential pitch in 1910 at a Washington Senators and Philadelphia Athletics game. The Senators won 3-0 and this opening day tradition is still observed today. 

  • He was the first president to take up golf and was not the last.

  • Not only was Taft the first president to own a car, but it was an electric car. A 1908 steam powered Baker, one of which was also purchased by Thomas Edison. The White House stables were converted into a garage for the car.
  • The stables were also home to President Taft’s two prize cows, Mooly Wooly and Pauline Wayne. They grazed on the White House lawn and provided the homes milk and butter. He was the last president to keep a cow and maybe the first to promote farm to table.

  • In 1901, Helen Herron Taft traveled to the Philippines with her husband. She was introduced to the Lunete, a river park with bandstands, gardens and a tree lined promenade. Inspired by this beautiful promenade in the Philippines , a plan was formed and Mrs. Taft selected a site. The reclaimed tidal flats south of the Washington Monument was the setting for a bandstand to hold Marine Band concerts in the park. It was the first public project ever undertaken by a first lady.

  • The plan to plant Japanese cherry trees along the drive also came to fruition with the help of Helen Taft. In 1910, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo presented the first trees as a “memorial of national friendship between the United States and Japan”. Today, more than 3000 cherry trees are on the banks of the Tidal Basin and continue to be enjoyed around the National Mall.

  • In September 1909 while on a working vacation, President Taft stopped in the Grand Valley. He was driven to the fairgrounds, then located where Stocker Stadium and Lincoln Park are today, so he could attend the Grand Junction Peach Festival, the forerunner to the Palisade Peach Festival. He crowned 16 year old Agnes Swisher of Palisade as the Peach Queen.

  • President Taft also was in Montrose to dedicate the Gunnison-Uncompahgre Tunnel, the longest irrigation tunnel in the world at that time.

  • William Howard Taft died in 1930 at the age of 72. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The only other president buried there is John F. Kennedy.

  • May 24th is a special day for Colorado National Monument and we are so happy to be a part of President Taft’s legacy.


Mary Sommer is a dedicated Colorado National Monument volunteer. She knows more monument facts than many employees and she always loves learning more. You may find her chatting with visitors when she works behind the visitor center desk or maybe even teaching others how to throw with an atlayl on Archaeology day at Colorado National Monument.

Sorter Construction:

“We Support the Monument so Others can Make Memories and Enjoy.”

by Camille Jestrovich

Sorter Construction, established by Bill and Lisa Sorter, has been in business since 1953. They are one of the oldest family-owned construction businesses in Western Colorado and are committed to keeping operations as local as possible. Currently they employ 25 Grand Valley residents on a full-time basis.

Sorter Construction’s primary objectives of sustainable construction are to build secure, accessible, productive structures while minimizing the effect on the environment. Sorter recycles as many asphalt and concrete materials as feasible and makes every effort to avoid taking materials to the landfill. In addition, they create their own compost to integrate with native soils in an effort to keep business practices at Sorter Construction as green as possible.

Support of Colorado National Monument

I recently spoke with Sorter Construction’s president Bill Ogle who is one of Colorado National Monument Association's sponsors. Bill said “Sorter Construction supports the monument because the monument has so much to share. The people and particularly the youth of the valley have much to gain from the history, the programs, and the different rock formations within the valley.”

Bill's family has taken many outings on the monument, but one sticks out in particular. When he was a kid, he said buffalo were often seen around the west entrance. On one occasion they went hiking to see the buffalo and he was actually chased by one!

His connection to the monument goes even further back to his grandmother who had a date with John Otto when she was a young woman. Bill remembers, “She shared with me that they rode horseback from Grand Junction and up and down Serpents Trail. It took most of the day and it was very hard and unpleasant and she never rode a horse again.” She did however enjoy future trips to Colorado National Monument all her life.

Sorter Construction Projects Past and Current

You might not know it, but you likely see Sorter Construction’s impact on the community on your commute to work or on a stroll down Main Street in Grand Junction. Sorter Construction served as general contractor for the Main Street Reconstruction in 2011. The project involved disposal of the old lead pipes and installing a new water main. The update included a sewer main, much-needed storm drains, and a state-of-the-art irrigation system. Removal of old concrete led to new brick planters, two water fountains, a water feature with a splash pad, and landscaping. They installed new street lights, future conduits for wi-fi, broadband, and a sound system. For the new concrete walks and street paving they received the Concrete Paving Project of the Year and a gold medal from the American Concrete Institute.

The CMU Sidewalk Reconstruction project focused on providing safer sidewalks for pedestrians and bicycles. The project, spanning the length of 12th Street, consists of a new light-colored concrete sidewalk for pedestrians and a darker colored path for bicycles and skateboards. In addition, landscaping and a new sprinkler system was put in place.

They were also involved in the first phase of the North Avenue Rehabilitation process approximately 5 years ago. The improvements involved putting in sidewalks and lighting along Lincoln Park Golf Course, the barrier netting and the handicap ramps.

We would like to thank Bill Ogle and Sorter Construction for their ongoing support!

Ben Landolt- Social Trail Intern

Hello, everyone! My name is Ben, and I'll be an intern at the Monument through next March, while I work on mapping the park's network of social trails, among other projects.

A little bit about me: I was born and raised in the Piedmont region of central Virginia, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity to explore the landscapes of western Colorado during my time there.

I did all of my undergrad and graduate-level education at the College of William & Mary (go Tribe!), and I'm a self-identified rock nerd, spoken as somebody who majored in geology while also going on frequent rock climbing trips around the mid-Atlantic.

In my spare time I love to experiment with bread baking (particularly if sourdough is involved), and to make music with friends and family alike (bluegrass/Appalachian music is always a favorite). I can't wait to start contributing to the social trails project very soon, and I'm so grateful to be welcomed into the community around Colorado National Monument.


John Moore: Great Teacher and Friend

by Johanna van Waveren

John Moore was an amazing naturalist and teacher. He shared his immense knowledge and love of nature with Colorado National Monument Association and the community by volunteering many hours (for 10+ years!) as a presenter for our Walks and Talks series. We are very sorry to share that he passed away November 14, 2021 and we want to take a moment to honor and remember him.

“Surviving and Thriving in a Difficult Environment” and “Birds of the Grand Valley” are just two examples of many free educational CNMA Walks and Talks that John Moore led over the years. John co-presented many programs with his friend, former monument ranger, Don Regan.

John was also a high school teacher who spent most summers as a seasonal interpretive ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park. John Moore “defined what an interpretive ranger should be.” You could ask about a flower or bird for instance and he would turn it into a compelling story. His audience would be utterly captivated. He inspired interest. Don Regan said, “I had a lot of great teachers in high school, but he would have been the best.”

Dave Price says, “It was always a pleasure to talk with him; I'll miss that. So knowledgeable in all aspects of nature. I worked with him at Rocky way back in 1977, my rookie season with the NPS while he was an experienced veteran. I continued to learn from him throughout the many years.” “He got happiness from sharing his breadth of knowledge.”

Debra Foster, a good friend said, “John Moore was one of the most interesting people I have ever know, he was a true naturalist. He knew and wanted to know anything that had to do with this planet. He had the most amazing private library, from rocks to hummingbirds and everything else, and I was bless[ed] to be able to have some of his knowledge shared with me. He was a founding member of the High Desert Orchid Society, and a member of the Chinle Cactus and Succulent Club, Western Colorado African Violet Society and many other organizations.”

John shared his collections with as many people as possible. He once brought his seed collection to the Colorado National Monument visitor center for an educational program and gave seeds out to participants to take home. John also donated his shell collection to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. 

John’s interests were not only limited to science. He had an art collection that was abundant enough that he even rotated pieces throughout the year to offer a changing scenery in his home. He was a continuing scholar his whole life and his studies were vast and varied.

Don and Dave both used the word “gentleman” in describing him. Don said, “John was a true gentleman, in the old world sense of the word. Like no one I have met.” He was humble and kind and a wonderful friend. He was a tremendous asset to CNMA and to many people personally. He will be sorely missed.  

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Special Request

The natural resource division of Colorado National Monument is looking for around 200 new AA Energizer lithium batteries for their Mexican Spotted Owl Bioacoustic Survey.

If any CNMA member has the ability to donate these to CNMA, please email Any number of batteries is appreciated!


More Information:

Mexican Spotted Owl Bioacoustic Survey:


The park’s Division of Resource Stewardship & Science (RSS) is in the second year of our Mexican Spotted Owl (MSO) bioacoustic survey. MSOs are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and our park has been identified as having potential habitat. Surprisingly, the monument has never had a comprehensive survey for MSO, even after having been identified as potential habitat by experts over two decades ago. Due to lack of previous surveys, the RSS division is conducting a preliminary study using bioacoustic recording equipment in hopes of informing the need for a comprehensive ground-based survey as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires for this species. 


Last year we partnered with regional NPS staff to conduct these surveys, helping them test some new equipment in the process. The devices listen for MSO calls during the peak hours of owl activity from 6:00PM to 6:00AM from the middle of March until the end of June.  


 All that's needed is around 200 new AA Energizer lithium batteries to implement this year's study.


Thank you, CNMA members and supporters, for all you do for Colorado National Monument!

May your spring season be filled with many joyful moments!

And thanks to our business sponsors...

CNMA Staff and Board

John Lintott & Johanna van Waveren- Co-Executive Directors

Sharon Dixon- Office Manager

Camille Jestrovich- Membership Coordinator

Carol Dominguez, Nicole Gutentag, and Payton Parkins- Sales Associates

CNMA Board- Ken Kreie, Mark Swain, Lori Franks, Melinda Shishim, Joel Bechtel, Carl Jacobson, Debbie Kovalik, David Conner, Jesse Scott, Victor Ketellapper, Michael Paxson, Kauai Fitt, and Danni Langdon.

BIG SHOUT OUT to Linda Saturno for over 6 years of amazing work at CNMA! Thanks you for all you did to contribute so mightily to CNMA's successes! We miss you already!