I’m still having a hard time admitting that Summer is over, despite entering the month of October. Fear of the coming Winter tends to keep me from acknowledging the dropping temperatures. However, I can’t deny the changing colors of the leaves when I work amidst them every day, and I can’t stop being in constant awe of the beauty around me.
One thing I’ve loved about working in Ashton is learning about places that I’ve been so close to my whole life but never knew existed. My college roommates and I decided to start out the semester right by going camping, but we didn’t want to go quite to Yellowstone. Instead, we decided to try out Cave Falls, a campground that I only learned about recently. I pass the sign for the turn off all the time while working, but I’d never been so we headed out late Friday night and set up our tent in the dark. In the morning we woke up to an incredible view, with Fall River right behind us. The absolutely glowing golden leaves took our breath away and the falls were gorgeous.
This last weekend marked the end of the Recreational Use Economic Value Study on the Upper Teton River we’ve been conducting. One of the Summer interns from Colgate, Frannie, already described in one of her previous blog posts what this entailed, but just to recap I’ll explain a little of what we were doing. On survey days, I would drive down to Teton Valley and visit 6 access sites along the river. There I would interview any recreational users and get their party size, the number of days they had spent on the river that week, and their email so I could send them the survey which they could take later so as not to impede their recreating. The survey asks a variety of questions including things like their expenses, nearby facilities available, their experience, potential changes to those experiences, and a little bit about themselves as well. These last few weeks have been particularly enjoyable because most of the people spending time on the river at this time of year are locals, and therefore have usually interacted with or at least heard of Henry’s Fork Foundation. As locals, they’re also very willing to participate in the survey because of how much the river means to them personally. I’ll miss being so close to the Tetons and meeting people from all over the country that share a passion for the outdoors.
I took ornithology, the study of birds, the semester before coming to work for HFF and it’s been so fun seeing the incredible variety of birds and wildlife that reside in the Henry’s Fork Watershed. Just this last weekend I got to watch and listen as a group of about 50 sandhill cranes passed overhead. The swallows that make their homes underneath the bridges have been gone for several weeks now, seeking warmer areas with more plentiful food sources. I’m still learning to differentiate between all the different species of hawks in the area. I’ve also seen plenty of moose, the most recent being a large bull that meandered across the parking lot where I was sitting waiting for recreationists.
I love when I have friends who ask what I do here at HFF and I get to explain the variety of projects I am engaged in, and the beautiful ‘office’ of the watershed where I get to work. Truly, the work that Henry’s Fork Foundation does is not only important but also rewarding.