Colorado National Monument Association Summer 2022 Newsletter

Dear CNMA Members,

Can you believe summer is here already? CNMA has been busy and spring flew by. We were grateful for the cooler days, spring rainstorms and each flowering plant. We hope everyone had a nice few months and you're ready for a summer full of fun!

Besides managing a busy store, we hired three new, wonderful employees, hosted Walks and Talks and continued our support of the monument.

We recently bought supplies for the monument's natural resource division including supplies for the Mexican Spotted Owl survey and snake kits. We also contributed more funds towards the Saddlehorn Amphitheater and trail project. Other purchases for our park included sun shirts for employees working in the summer heat, education supplies and a year-long social trails intern.

During the first week of June the monument and other organizations in the valley hosted 50 teenagers through the Preserve America Youth Summit. CNMA was happy to participate by leading a discussion on how to use Saddlehorn Amphitheater. Some of the ideas included an art camp, a pow wow for native people, movie night, high school plays and concerts. We were amazed by the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness from the youth. CNMA also provided a lunch for the kids and leaders.

We also had a lot of great support from our community. Thanks, as always, to all of our CNMA members and corporate sponsors for all you do to help CNMA and the monument.

Thanks to all of you, Colterris, the Rotary Club of Grand Junction and many amazing foundations, the Saddlehorn project is in full effect. The Colorado National Monument trail and mason crews are hard at work. The park natural resources team also checks for resources like possible historic artifacts while digging is underway. The contractor for the new structure and renovating the seating is planning on starting work in July.

We would also like to thank Hot Tomato for donating 1% of all May sales to CNMA. Your generosity and community mindfulness is astounding.

A big shout out to Ramblebine Brewing Company. We had a blast at the beer release party and hope you did too! Did anyone try that spicy pepper infused beer? All the beer was delicious and the sales of our collaboration beer are coming back to CNMA :)

Due to the magnanimity of the Rotary Club of Fruita, we hired a video intern from Colorado Mesa University (CMU). CMU decided to pay a second intern, so we have two superb interns making educational videos for the monument and they will also make a promotional video for CNMA. We can't wait to show it to you.

We have so much to be thankful for as we move into a very busy summer season. Thank you for all of your support.

We hope to see you around!

-Johanna van Waveren, CNMA Co-Executive Director

Plein Air


by Christine Gearheart

Artists in action! The sixth annual Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Event is coming up from October 2-9, 2022. This year CNMA will welcome more than 25 artists from all over the country as they converge to paint the amazing landscapes of 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.

Plein air painting, French for “open air,” became popular in the 1860s during the Impressionist art movement. Artists of the time, including Claude Monet and other names still well-known today, realized that painting directly from nature, under natural light, allowed their work to take on a much lighter and fluid look than studio painting. As oil paints became easier to transport in tubes, more and more artists began taking their canvas and paints outside. Plein air painting became a respected artistic tradition, both as a study for a future studio painting and as an end in itself.

We can fast forward to modern times, where plein air painting is still very much alive and well. The southwest United States hosts dozens of plein air painting events every year that draw talent and collectors from all over the country. For artist and CNMA Co-Executive Director John Lintott, it seemed natural to begin a plein air event based in Colorado National Monument. “We live in such an amazing place here in western Colorado,” says Lintott, who began the Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Event in 2017. “It had been a dream of mine to start a painting event at this location and I knew the monument would be a great place to share with other artists and to show our community how these artists interpret the scenery here.”

Beginning in 2019, the Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Event was expanded to include the surrounding BLM lands (McInnis Canyons and Dominguez-Escalante Canyons), as well as Colorado National Monument. This expansion has drawn more artists to the event and allowed CNMA to expand their partnerships with other local entities, such as Colorado Canyons Association (CCA), which is sponsoring a Colorado River raft trip for interested event artists.

The sixth annual Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Event will take place from October 2 to October 9, 2022. CNMA invites and encourages you to watch the artists in action! Events include:

● 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 sponsors and members are invited to attend the opening of the gallery at Carlson Vineyards Tasting Room, 545 Main Street in Grand Junction

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

Stories from the CCC at the

Colorado National Monument

by Camille Jestrovich

Nearly every one of our country’s monuments, national parks, national forests, and other public lands still profits from work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program. Founded in 1933, the young men in this program, under the guidance of the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park System, and the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, came to be stewards of the land. CCC crew members planted over three billion trees, fought forest fires, reseeded grazing areas, and implemented soil-erosion control methods in more than 800 parks during the program's nine-year existence. They also built many of the facilities enjoyed by park guests, such as the campgrounds we stay in, the trails we walk on, and roads we use to travel today.

The CCC was a work relief program during the Great Depression that provided millions of young men employment on environmental projects. It is thought by many to be one of the most successful of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Programs. The CCC joined FDR’s passion for conservation and the expectation of America’s youth in service to their country.

A majority of the unemployed young men that enrolled in the CCC lived in cities in the east, although much of the work was in the west. This created an operational complication that the United States Army helped to settle by overseeing the transportation of thousands of enrollees to work camps across the country.

Adjusting to Life at the CCC Camp

Of the three camps established on the Colorado National Monument from 1933 to 1942, the first was the temporary CCC tent camp NM-1-C (National Monument-1-Colorado), which was located amidst the rock formations known as the Coke Ovens. There were fifty enrollees from the surrounding area and twenty-six local experienced men, known as LEMs, who supervised the recruits and taught them trades such as carpentry and masonry. Later, more young men from neighboring counties arrived together with trucks and compressors. The narrow ledge where their camp was perched was getting crowded! Leroy Lewis, a new recruit, noted, “It was no place for sleepwalkers.”

One of the first enrollees assigned to Colorado National Monument was Thurlow R. Pitts. As a boy he had hiked and climbed around in the canyons. He was happy to have the chance to live and work on the monument, but wasn’t as fond of the uniforms. “We were issued army clothing of 1918 vintage. Trousers and shirts were of wool, and the trouser legs were so pegged it was hard to get some of the boy’s feet through the pant leg.” Pitts recollected “walking and working in blasted Colorado stone” in his army issue shoes. “After a few days the stitching that held the soles on parted company with the shoe uppers, and we found ourselves with shoe strings and uppers in good shape but no soles or heels. Socks were the next to go.” He was given an aged and oversized pair of shoes from an officer for which he was most grateful.

But many of the CCCers were also dissatisfied with the conditions at the camp. They were to be housed in tents on wooden platforms rather than barracks. “They did the best they could with what they had. Our first beds were army cots with straw mattresses, wool army blanket, and no sheets. It is not hard to picture the discomfort of some who were allergic to wool – especially in Colorado in June and July,” recalled Pitts.

Leroy Lewis was in the same camp as Pitts and enrolled in the CCC in order to send money home to his family in Hotchkiss. Using crowbars, shovels, and sledgehammers, the first task at hand was to upgrade the entrance road so trucks could more easily drive to camp. “Work gloves had not arrived and there were plenty of blisters. Sore arms were also in order, as all the men were given numerous inoculations with wicked looking syringes that mounted humongous needles!” Many years later, Lewis recalled the superintendent's quick fix to their aching arms “was to swing a twelve-pound sledgehammer at the never-ending supply of rocks!” Pitt recalled that it was necessary to spend months of labor using their hands to clear road cuts and fill areas. Another worker commented that in lieu of heavy equipment, “the front-loader was your two hands.” CCC workers were reminded by their supervisors that they were in a national monument and therefore were under obligation to keep the natural habitat as undisturbed as possible.

On November 9, 1934 everyone in the Coke Ovens Camp was relocated to a permanent camp at Saddlehorn near the present day Colorado National Monument Visitors Center. With a bathhouse, mess hall, and barracks measuring 100 feet by 20 feet, the amenities at the first CCC camp at CNM were still basic. Wood and coal burning stoves were used when heating the buildings. The barracks, being uninsulated, could be either too cold or too hot, depending on where a worker’s bunk was in proximity to the heat source. Their mattresses were stuffed with hay grown on Glade Park. Enlisted men were required to work for a period of at least six months, collected $30 a month, and were obligated to send $25 home in an attempt to boost their family’s income.

Learning Trades and Skills

Saddlehorn Camp, NM-2-C, provided training in skills such as woodworking and photography, as well as accounting, typing, and bookkeeping. The educational opportunities were a big draw, attracting 80% of workers in some facet of the program throughout its existence. Leroy Lewis honed his newly developed skills working as a clerk when he wasn’t doing road work. He wrote, “Once upon a time, millions of raw-boned young men without any prospects or grub in their bellies end up shoveling dirt for the Civilian Conservation Corps… It had a helluva impact on my life. It was hot and hard.”

Numerous former CCC workers assert that the disciplined military fashion of the camp structure was responsible for teaching them the significance of hard work and skills for the workforce. Many men also took their training straight into serving in WWII. Lewis went on to have a

distinguished career in the Army and was presented medals for Valor in WWII and the Korean War.

Each of the three camps labored on various segments of the road. In 1933 another temporary camp was set up near Glade Park. Ultimately, this camp was relocated in 1934 to the base of Fruita Canyon. In order to have better access between their Glade Park camp and the new one being constructed, a series of wooden ladders were built by the young men. These ladders, known to the men as the “Fruita Ladders,” dangled precariously from the cliff tops 400 feet into the canyon!

The newly completed camp NM-3-C was positioned at the mouth of Fruita Canyon, near the present-day site of the west entrance station. This location gave the men greater access to the towns of Fruita and Grand Junction. It also produced its own newspaper, Monument Murmurs, every two weeks. Later, during WWII, German POWs were housed in the camp barracks.

Danger, Drought, and Death

Tragedy struck on November 9, 1933 when nine of the twenty-six LEMs, ranging in age from nineteen to sixty years old, were killed in the region known as Half Tunnel. CCC workers were taken off the job only days before because they did not possess the proper protective masks to shield them from the rock dust created from blasting. It is believed that a powder charge was set off by a CCC worker on the other side of the canyon which caused part of the rock overhang to break off. To avoid being crushed by the falling rock, three men chose to jump over the 300-foot cliff, dying from their injuries. Six other men were crushed in the cave-in, and one man was partly buried and freed, only to die later that night. The accident was a disastrous blow to everyone working on the road and was a particularly emotional matter because only local men, eight from Glade Park and one from Fruita, were killed. Under review, officials determined it to have been an “unavoidable” accident.

A drought in 1934 brought about more difficulties for the camps. The lack of water required nine drivers and three trucks to make the trip to Grand Junction twenty-four hours a day to haul water for bathing, drinking, and cooking. From the outset, attaining a steady supply of water at the camps was a dilemma. Fruita and the National Park Service came to an agreement. In exchange for 10% of the flow to the Park Service from the pipeline, the CCC workers would replace the original wooden water service line with cast iron pipe.

Drought was only one of the hardships that the camps faced. In July 1934, NM-3-C supplies were greatly diminished when the camp was isolated by floods that washed out roads for several days. In April 1935, there was a second outbreak of diphtheria, the first being in 1933, and a quarantine was once again put into place.

For the CCC workers at Colorado National Monument, constructing Rim Rock Drive was of the greatest importance. They are also recognized for building the campground at Saddlehorn and the caretaker/custodians stone house which is now used for administrative offices. A utility area for government equipment and a nine-mile-long steel wire fence was also completed to keep the bison residing in the monument in and the local livestock out.

Enlistment in the camps had diminished to 160 men in each camp by March 1936. This had a tremendous consequence on the road building efforts. However, in 1937, Rim Rock Drive opened 20 miles of graded gravel road to visitors and it was a huge success. Only a few hundred people annually had visited this magnificent place up to this point. 1937 brought 20,000 guests to witness the beauty and sanctity of the remote canyons and impressive rock formations. Work on Rim Rock Drive remained incomplete until the late 1940s when work began to pave the entire 23 miles of roadway, and by 1959 Serpents Trail was converted into a hiking trail.

The CCC program at the monument ran until November 16, 1942, when it ended due to the onset of WWII. In looking back, most men conveyed extreme pride in their accomplishments and many felt that the CCC saved their lives. With their hands and backbreaking work, what they were able to accomplish became even more treasured, when after many years they began to tell their stories.


To learn more about The Civilian Conservation Corp on the Colorado Plateau:

History of the Civilian Corp in Colorado: Littleton District-Grand Junction District

A Classic Western Quarrel: A History of the Road Controversy at Colorado National Monument National Park Service website

With Picks, Shovels and Hope: The CCC and Its Legacy on the Colorado Plateau

by Wayne K. Hinton with Elizabeth A. Green

A note on the photos: These photos are from Denise and Steve Hight's collection. Many thanks to them for sharing with all of us. Photographers in order: Green, unkown, Erwin, Lewis, Dean, and Clements.

Allow us to Introduce our New Office Manager, Sharon Dixon

I am a Colorado native born and raised just north of Denver. My parents worked and met in Grand Junction in the 1950's working for Schlumberger. I transferred to Grand Junction 18 years ago for a job with Schlumberger. My family and I built a home in Fruita with my husband and our two daughters. It was an honor to work for the same company as my parents and in the same town. The valley has been a great place to finish raising our daughters and is now a big part of watching our grandson grow up here too.


Outside of work I enjoy exploring a wide range of wonderful places and things to do in the area. I also enjoy horses, camping, hiking, and finding hidden treasures like old mines and waterfalls.

Nancy McGuire: CNMA's Newest Sales Associate

Nancy has developed a passion for the Colorado National Monument since moving to the Grand Valley 6 years ago. She has been a volunteer at the visitor center for about a year and helps to give astronomy night sky viewing events at the monument in conjunction with the rangers. She also enjoys writing articles for the CNMA newsletter. Nancy’s main hobby is astronomy (she is the President of the Western Colorado Astronomy Club, is a member of three other astronomy clubs, and does PR and Outreach for Grand Mesa Observatory).

Now “retired”, Nancy’s career in the materials science industry began as a chemist. With a highly specialized technical background, she then spent five years as a technical sales representative. An acquisition of the company by a Fortune 500 company led to the next phase of her career as a Global Marketing Manager. In this capacity she traveled all over the world to support customers and promote products, led a team responsible for the growth of the business segment, developed market segment business plans, and was responsible for all promotional materials and advertising.

Nancy now uses the skills developed during her professional life to engage with visitors to the Colorado National Monument.

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Counting Sheep

by Nancy McGuire

No….not the kind who lull you to sleep at night. We are talking rams and lambs! (not to mention ewes and yearlings….)

I had the wonderful experience of being a census taker for the monument’s most famous and sought-after residents – bighorn sheep.

I was assigned the duty of stopping at all the overlooks between the West entrance station and the pull off for Liberty Cap and scouring the canyons and cliffs with binoculars in search of sheep.

The day began early (I guess the sheep are early risers). It was cold, and fog covered the top part of the park. Since it had rained the night before, the air was filled with incredible smells, and everything was glistening. But since I was working my way up from the west entrance gate to the top, I had clear weather down below. After I scrutinized the area surrounding the entrance station with binoculars, I slowly worked my way up to Fruita canyon. Since this was my first year as a census volunteer, I started to have anxiety about “what if I don’t find a single sheep?”

My worries were short lived. I stopped at the Balanced Rock pullover, and with my binoculars I spotted a group of 6 males about 2.5 years old, frolicking, leaping in the air, head butting and other male bighorn activities. I watched them through binoculars and decided to drive up a bit further.

Never mind falling rocks, etc., there is one certain sign that bighorn are afoot – cars stopping along the road a short way up the hill. As I arrived on the scene there was an explosion of bighorn. They seemed to be everywhere, scampering across the road, down the canyon and up the canyon. There were too many to count effectively so I just started taking photos figuring I could count and categorize them later. The photos proved interesting, a sort of “Where’s Waldo” game. Every time I looked at the photos I discovered “hidden” bighorn that I added to the list.

For the very first time, after the onlookers dispersed and as I walked along the East side of the canyon, I could hear some of the sheep bleating. I never knew they made any sound! My prior experiences had been that they silently stare at you.

In the quiet I could also hear their feet crunching on the rocks and dirt, and the sound of them chewing as they grazed and munched.

It is interesting to view the sheep up close through binoculars. I had attended a training meeting that Monday where the volunteers were educated about how to tell males from females, and how to identify yearlings and lambs. Expertise comes with experience, as yearling males and ewes look very similar. Back views of the sheep would be helpful, but they rarely pose as you would like them to!

One of the perks of census taking is that you get to experience many of the other joys that visiting the monument offers. One of the unique aspects of the monument is quiet. A bonus at this time of the year was an abundance of wildflowers of every color scattered all around. At the Artist’s Point viewpoint, the resident white-throated swifts were swooped and chittered continuously. In the quiet I could hear the whooshing sound of their wings. And, of course, numerous sightings of iconic, soaring ravens.

Smells, sights, sounds. My census experience will go into my newly acquired (at the wonderful monument gift shop, of course!) journal so that I may forever look back and recall a very special day connecting with a very special park.

I encourage everyone to spend time at the park and/or become a volunteer. Your experiences there will well reward you!

"Where's Waldo?" Can you count all the sheep in the photo?

(Hint - there are at least 15). Photo by Nancy McGuire.

Messages from the Wilderness

by Lisa Lesperance Kautsky

Planting a garden is a big undertaking. We ensure the soil has the proper fertility, organic matter, and tilth. Seedlings must be planted at a certain depth specific to seed type. The seedlings require the appropriate amount of water. Too much or too little water – the seeds won’t germinate. Everything must be just right to establish seedlings. And, even under ideal circumstances, the seedlings may not germinate. In my world, it seems that seedlings will find any flimsy excuse to not grow!

And yet, on the Colorado National Monument, we can observe 50-year-old junipers growing out of boulders, a flowering mountain mahogany hanging off a cliff side, and Claret Cup sprouting out of a crevice in granite bedrock. What to make of this?


The natural world is full of wonders. It’s also a source wisdom. Take these plants growing out of rock, seemingly growing without soil, let alone the ideal soil tilth or appropriate amount of water. These survivors model characteristics of tenacity, strength, hardiness, flexibility, and adaptability to name of few. The juniper, mountain mahogany, and cactus have somehow found their place on the planet and with extreme limitations have found life. We can use these models as inspiration to help us endure.

On your next trek on the Colorado National Monument, study the environment. What wisdom can you glean from what you see? How does it apply to your life?

This article was written by Lisa Lesperance Kautsky. Lisa is a licensed professional counselor in Grand Junction through her private practice, Red Bike Counseling. Lisa appreciates the therapeutic effect that nature offers and promotes nature therapy as an enhancement to traditional mental health therapies. Additionally, Lisa contributes regularly to Red Bike Blog, promoting mental health wellness as shown through nature's wisdom.


Photos of the lunar eclipse in

May 2022 by Connor McLeish.

Meet the Board Series- Jesse Scott

Johanna: Why are you on the CNMA board?

Jesse: I was invited to join from a previous member, who I consider a great person and involves herself with important community projects. The monument has always been a special place to me and my family and any chance to be an advocate for supporting it and the great individuals who care for it was something I was happy to jump in on!

Johanna: Pretend you are tasked with showing a visiting politician around Colorado National Monument. Where would you take them?

Jesse: There are many special spots within the monument which serve as incredible viewpoints to see its beauty and significance. In particular, there are several spots where being near some of the edges of tall sandstone walls often exposes you to the feel of air and the movement of weather unlike most other places. It’s grounding and humbling to be reminded of mother nature in that way and that’s where I’d take anyone to impress them of the monument’s value.

Johanna: What do you do for CMU?

Jesse: I work as the Coordinator of Engagement. Primarily, I work to assist students navigating challenge and obstacles outside of the classroom. I also facilitate several mental health trainings both on campus and throughout the community. Additionally, I spend time with student/athletes as the head coach of the alpine ski team.

Johanna: I'm so impressed with your background. One thing in particular regarding your background, I'd like to ask about is wilderness therapy. How did you get into wilderness therapy?

Jesse: My wilderness therapy work was a combination of several life events and good timing. I was a psychology student and active in the school’s outdoor program. My interest in the human services field and development in wilderness navigating skills, as well as having a close friend work with a company providing adjudicated youth with outdoor programming, all aligned seamlessly towards the end of my undergrad schooling. Interested applicants had to spend a week “in the life of a participant” as a way of applying for the position. My life changed instantly from that experience alone.

Once I had the job my role was to work alongside other staff and supervise youth on an eight days on and six days off schedule. The program took place on the nearby Uncompahgre Plateau and was entirely based in the wilderness/outside setting. Our days were spent backpacking across the plateau, working through educational programs, wilderness navigation and survival skills as well as both group and individual processing related to developing the participants socially and behaviorally. In short, it was the most transformative work experience of my life. Aside from being a dishwasher at a buffet restaurant early in my working life, it was the hardest job I had ever done but

also the most purposeful. Spending that amount of time entirely outside away from any substantial protective structure, moving a lot by simply walking through vast wilderness and sharing deeply meaningful time next to a fire under the sky with kids who had a lot to teach me, has continued to serve me with purpose and direction in all of my life. Open space and being with weather has a way of making humans better!

Johanna: You grew up in Grand Junction and you recently had your first child, Linden, whom you will raise here. What is the best thing about growing up in the Grand Valley?

Jesse: The Grand Valley allows me and my family to be outside in open space with relative ease. Though the valley is growing in many good ways, there’s a lack of anxiousness here as compared to larger and more active cities. It’s important for me to feel connected to both the community and the places where solitude is found. Having a place which incorporates both is important to me and the valley strikes a great balance in that way. Places like the Colorado National Monument and groups like the CNMA are wonderful examples of both sacred space and connection to community, found here in the Grand Valley.

Johanna: Thanks, Jesse!

Shout out to our Spring 2022 Walks and Talks Presenters!

Thanks to...

Danny Rosen for his poetry program

Terri Ahern for two "Then & Now" presentations,

Nicole Gutentag for her President's Day interactive program,

Rachel Berger for her "Bootleggers to Craft Beer" talk,

Don Regan for two geology hikes,

Cary Atwood for an early morning bird walk,

Stephen Stern for two wildflowers walks,

and for all of the interested and engaged participants!

Don't forget about picking up one of our awesome 2022 bike jerseys. These are selling quickly, so get yours 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

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