Kids learn to respect the wilderness

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Program at Lair O' the Bear offers outdoor education

By Sandy Barnes

Jeffco Open Space ranger Beth Grady held up a backpack and asked a group of youngsters at Lair o’ the Bear Park what it should contain.


The kids took turns adding a compass, map, bottle of water, snack, first-aid kit, poncho, headlamp, matches, a hat, gloves, jacket and a tool with a knife and scissors.

This was lesson one in a Junior Ranger Leave No Trace program held Saturday to celebrate Colorado Land Conservation Week.

While walking to the learning stations in the park, youngsters also learned that it’s good to stay on the trail, and that if they get lost, the best thing to do is stay in one place.

At the “respect wildlife” station, naturalist Lena Beauchamp of Lookout Mountain Nature Center helped youngsters create a model beaver dam with clay, sticks and water.

“Don’t be shy,” she said as one boy carefully poured water into a tray to see if the stick-and-clay dam would hold.

Beauchamp also gave youngsters advice on what to do if they ever encounter a mountain lion or bear.

“Make yourself look big,” she said. “You don’t want to back away. If attacked, fight back and protect yourself.”

Other leave-no-trace guidelines the youths learned were to never feed animals; to keep campfires small and use established fire rings; and to put out fires completely, scattering cool ashes. Packing out all trash, leftover food and litter and washing at least 200 feet from streams and lakes also are principles to follow — along with leaving plants and rocks where they are found.

For more information, contact the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics at  HYPERLINK "http://www.LNT.org" www.LNT.org, or call 800-332-4100.

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.