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Mancos students paint animal tracks to connect parks

Welding students make informational kiosk with map

The fourth grade class of Mancos Elementary School is painting moose, mountain lion and red fox tracks along sidewalks in Mancos to connect the three town parks – Boyle, Cottonwood and Northside.

The blue moose tracks connect Boyle Park to Cottonwood Park; yellow mountain lion tracks connect Cottonwood Park to Northside Park; and red fox tracks connect Northside Park to Boyle Park. The students researched animals in the Mancos Valley to design the prints.

Mancos High School’s welding class constructed an informational kiosk to be placed at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Mesa Street, next to the Mancos Opera House. The kiosk includes information about animals the students are researching and the trails, along with a map.

The project is the result of a collaboration between the Mancos schools, the Mancos Trails Group and the town of Mancos.

Robert Meyer, board chair of the Mancos Trails Group, initiated the project and coordinated with Ed Whritner, the project-based learning coordinator at Mancos schools, to carry it out.

Project-based learning “pulls the community and school together, so the kids feel like they are part of the community and making it a better place,” Whritner said.

Students are often excited about projects, art or otherwise, but a partnership with Mancos Trails and the town gives the students a bigger audience for their work, Whritner said.

The students voted on which of the 10 designs they created in class would be used for the tracks.

“They communicated and critiqued each other in a respectful manner,” Whritner said. “It was big of them to be honest about what the highest quality was.”

Mancos art teacher Alys Hansen takes the students out on Mondays and Wednesdays to paint the tracks with stencils.

The goal of connecting the parks was part of the master trails plan created by the Town of Mancos in 2012.

Meyer is working with the San Juan Mountain Association to provide a conservation education program for the students involved in the project.

“We are developing the next generation of trail stewards,” Meyer said.

The tracks are also an effort to get visitors to spend more time in Mancos, Meyer said. The tracks also go through the central business district, encouraging visitors to learn more about the town and its history.

And the tracks are a “designated way for kids to cross Highway 160” when heading to the Northside Park, Meyer said.

Eventually, the Mancos Trails Group would like to add workout stations along the tracks and in the parks to “improve the health and well-being of residents,” he said.

The Mancos Trails Group purchased the materials to create the tracks and the kiosk with grants from the Ballantine Family Fund and the town of Mancos, along with private donations.

The trails group is seeking funding through grants and private donations to install similar kiosks at the three parks.

The Journal is owned by the Ballatine family of the Ballantine Family Fund.