I went on my first hike in the Chugach National Forest this past weekend. We took three Latino boys who are English learners on a scenic hike at Pipeline Lake Trail. These boys do not go on hikes often and they were thrilled to go out and explore the area. We wanted to give them the opportunity to spend time outdoors and to practice their English, which they are quickly learning. Pipeline Lake Trail wanders through muskeg meadows and spruce and hemlock forests below the nearby mountains. Of course, this time of the year it is still covered in a blanket of snow which made it a completely different yet enjoyable hiking experience for me and for the boys as well, they were fascinated by the snow. The boys also enjoyed searching for moose and seeing two bald eagles up close through the binoculars.

We are surrounded by such a pristine natural area and I would like to share its importance to the Spanish speaking community here in Cordova. I am working on making further connections with the Latino community as well as the diverse community in Cordova to expose them to the vast recreational opportunities the Forest Service has to offer with hiking and wildlife watching opportunities.  My next step is to connect with community organizations in town serving the Latino Community to discuss how we can serve the Latino Community while exposing them to outdoor education and activities in this area.

I also participated in owl surveys this weekend. The purpose of these surveys is to determine the occupancy of nocturnal forest owls in the South central Alaska region surrounding Cordova, Alaska. We surveyed 5 potential owl habitat sites along a road. The survey consisted of visiting each site, broadcasting owl calls and listening for responses. Three owl species we broadcasted for were: Boreal, Western Screech, and Barred Owls. Although the night that I participated in the surveys we did not hear any owls, I got to experience some fieldwork. It was cold outside but I was dressed appropriately with layers, hat, gloves and a scarf. The clear night with the stars illuminating sky made it worthwhile. I will continue to participate in these surveys in the upcoming weeks and I look forward to hearing an owl.

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