The Kestrel Program takes place multiple times a year, every year. In November 2010, students from high schools in the Roaring Fork Valley took off from the Aspen airport and flew over areas being proposed for addition to the Wilderness Preservation System.
The Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign is a joint project of Wilderness Workshop, The Wilderness Society, the Colorado Environmental Coalition and the Colorado Mountain Club. Originally a proposal for 300,000 acres, the proposal is now for 153,000 with adjustments being made n the interests of recreational groups such as bikers, snowmobilers, and all terrain vehicles.
Students flew over the White River National Forest and nearby Bureau of Land Management lands to see where there will be several brand-new, stand-alone wilderness areas, and significant increases in the existing ones.
Afterward, they convened at the Basalt Library where they listened to a panel of experts that included Dave Reed from Wilderness Workshop, ecologist Dee Malone, and Jack Albright from the White River Forest Alliance. The students were encouraged to ask questions and everyone came away with a better understanding of the plan that will hopefully bring more wilderness to their own backyard.
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Louis Chouteau and Jessica Martinez of Basalt High School fly over Hidden Gems!!