The Lion and the Lamb
As the equinox of March rolls around, we are awaiting the proverbial ‘lamb’ when it comes to weather. Coming in like a lion and out like a lamb is still the historical adage, but in these days of climate aberrations we are looking out the window to gray sheets of rain and snow streaking across our skies. The lion is still on our doorstep as we begin the early spring dance of planning an ever-increasing flight schedule between lion and lamb weather challenges.
We have upcoming flights to the Great Salt Lake to see what kind of refill will happen, if any, and over our newest National Monument, Avi Kwa Ame, near Lake Havasu and Lake Mead.
We are told that our snowpack is around normal for this time of year in Colorado, or is this a new normal? What the heck is normal nowadays? Lots of snow up high but when the sun comes out and the temps reach into the high 40s and low 50s, it can disappear fast. Too fast, as accumulating dust carried on the winds from Utah exacerbates this runoff and instead of soaking into the earth or being captured by our reservoir systems, we have floods speeding that flow downstream.
All of this is really about water.
And, if you didn’t know, today is World Water Day.
This, then, is our topic for our next program of Flight Across America. Due to COVID (another new normal?) we have not been able to provide our innovative and educational student program in recent years. We were still able to fly hundreds of young adults, many from underrepresented groups in the interim. Created in the memory of our great friend, John Denver, we have carried on the Flight Across America (FLAA) tradition for over 17 years and helped mostly college level students educate themselves and advocate for what they care about. Indeed, a number of our student participants went on to have careers in conservation. And it has come full circle for EcoFlight as our Conservation Programs Manager, Lea, and Multimedia Director, Ben, were FLAA students.
During this year’s three day adventure, we will be taking students over the Crystal, a river proposed for Wild & Scenic designation, which feeds the Colorado River, and then following the Colorado to Arizona. Along the way, students will hear from scientists, water-managers, and Tribal leaders. We will fly the critically low Lake Powell and take a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam. Flying over the Grand Canyon and the sacred Little Colorado River, we will head to the site of New Mexico’s largest wildfire in recorded history. From the air, we will examine the fire’s effect on the landscape and acequias, the traditional, community based irrigation system, as well as look at the Pecos watershed, threatened by mining. We will conclude the trip back in Aspen, where students will have a chance to share their experience and expertise with news publications and local highschoolers in the Roaring Fork Valley.
As a pilot, I am always looking at the big picture. Large landscapes and watersheds fill my senses each day, from horizon to horizon. My mind wanders as I soar above the clouds and our most majestic mountains, and ponder the fact that I am skiing on a drop of water that will then make its journey down the streams and rivers to the sea. Or as many of our flights have shown, almost to the sea.
One of our most pressing concerns here in the West is water. It is our hope that our upcoming FLAA flights with students, stakeholders, press, and scientists will help stimulate people to constructive action as they learn how this precious resource is in peril.