Update on Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike
February 10, 2016
Help us launch the First Annual Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) on September 24, 2016 - National Public Lands Day. Our special guests are the underserved schools and rural families of Garfield County in southern Utah, especially fourth graders eligible for the next round of free Every Kid in a Park passes.
Ninety-three percent of the geography of Garfield County (pop. 5,083) lies within federal ownership. As a result, our local communities are overwhelmingly impacted by places such as the 1.9-million-acre GSENM. Whether this is a blessing or a curse depends on one’s perspective.
Administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Monument encompasses the towering Grand Staircase of cliffs and terraces, the fossil-laden Kaiparowits Plateau, and the world-famous labyrinth of the Escalante Canyons. Its size, resources, and remote character provide extraordinary opportunities for geologists, paleontologists, archeologists, historians, and biologists. It's a Shangri-la for scientists, though they may be quite different than the people living in the ranching and farming communities surrounding GSENM.
As "The Science Monument" celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2016, it's critical that we help the BLM create opportunities for locals and visitors alike. Residents need to feel invested in federal land and welcomed as a part of its traditions and its stewardship. Indeed, protected areas such as GSENM and nearby Bryce Canyon National Park, which host millions of tourists each year, have become the centerpiece of the local economy. We need to help Garfield County’s fourth graders, their fellow students, and their families become positively connected to these places so that they can play a rewarding role in the region's future.
This hike is a great start - a way to celebrate common ground.
Coordinated by Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, GSENM's nonprofit friends group, this will be a daylong, fee-free event open to the local and visiting public. Guided walks will not be offered, but rather Partners' staff and volunteers will work with GSENM rangers and scientists to host learning stations at the trailhead and at key spots along the three-mile Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail, which leads to a stunning 126-foot waterfall. In addition to highlighting GSENM's 20th anniversary, emphasis will be placed on recognizing and protecting rock art (petroglyphs and pictographs), picking up litter, performing minor trail maintenance, and celebrating the natural and cultural treasures of the spectacular Escalante Canyons.
And we'll definitely get wet!
To reduce traffic congestion, a bus shuttle may be available from the town of Escalante, which will be hosting its annual art festival. Funds raised here will support program development for the hike and transportation from downtown Escalante, which can help dozens of fourth graders, friends, and family members travel together to the trailhead.
Lower Calf Creek Falls is one of southern Utah's most important economic assets. Connecting people to it - and to each other - is a vital step toward sustainability. Thank you for your support!