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ES Student Profile
Emily Arell '04
High Country Citizens' Alliance, Summer 2002 The roadless inventory project
High Country Citizens' Alliance, Summer 2002
The roadless inventory project
This summer we interned with the High Country Citizen’s Alliance in Crested,
Butte, Colorado. HCCA is a community-based, non-profit organization, which
started 25 years ago in an attempt to avert a mining threat to “Red Lady
Bull”. The fight continues today, as the most successful opposition to
a local mining threat. HCCA has expanded to include three more divisions,
including Public Lands, Water and a Community division. We interned in
the Public Lands department, as part of their annual Roadless Inventory
Project. As members of the field crew, we collaborated with other college
students from around the country (and Tasmania!) to inventory roads that
boarder roadless area boundaries in the Gunnison National Forrest. HCCA
was one of six organizations working for the Southern Rockies Forest Network
mapping the Gunnison National Forest in order to present an accurate representation
of the forest to be used in the revised Gunnison National Forrest Future
Forest plan. Roadless areas are classified as areas without motorized
use (such as ATVs, motorcycles and 4WD vehicles). Forests achieving Roadless
Area status are not as strictly regulated as designated Wilderness areas
in which only hiking is permitted.
Our week consisted of four days and nights in the field and Fridays in the office doing data entry, leaving the weekend
to explore Crested Butte and the surrounding mountains. Each day in the field was spent hiking the boundary roads,
documenting evidence of motorized use. We would follow maps from previous field crews, taking GPS points along each
road and at each intersection. We would encounter many roads not previously documented, known as ghost roads, and
follow each to its end. After walking each road and documenting pertinent features such as erosion, method of
construction, water bars, trail braiding, wildlife, closures, type of motorized use and water crossings with a
digital camera, we would complete a route form. Each road was classified, using National Forest standards, a purpose
was described (such as recreation, logging access, access to private property) and a recommendation for closure or
maintenance was offered.
After collecting data for four days in the field, we would return to the office for data entry each Friday.
We would download the data from the GPS and the digital camera and superimpose the GPS points on the topographical
map using GIS. When the project is completed (hopefully after one more summer of collecting data), these maps,
along with our recommendations for each route, will be given to the Forest Service in order to create current USGS
quadrant maps and to assist with creating the Future Forest Plan. Working on the Roadless Inventory Project introduced
us to the inside workings of a non-profit environmental organization and exposed us to future job opportunities.
We struggled to decide where we wished to lie on the spectrum of approaches to dealing with environmental issues.
We discovered the role which compromise can play in regards to environmental policy. The Mellon stipend enabled us
to participate in this project that was both pertinent to our coursework, but was also a wonderful experience.