Grants support reality experiences, bat monitoring

Staff report
Posted 6/24/19

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife pilot program that uses mobile technology to connect visitors to parks, and a research project related to monitoring bat populations in state parks were awarded grants …

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Grants support reality experiences, bat monitoring

Posted

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife pilot program that uses mobile technology to connect visitors to parks, and a research project related to monitoring bat populations in state parks were awarded grants from Great Outdoors Colorado.

GOCO awarded $17,982 to the Augmented Reality Experience pilot program, which will invest in Agents of Discovery, a free mobile-based game already used in more than 50 U.S. Forest Service areas and numerous parks internationally, according to a news release.

The grant is part of the Director’s Innovation Fund, a partnership between Great Outdoors Colorado and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to create a funding source for one-time, innovative projects that would not otherwise receive funding from either organization.

Almost every Colorado state park has interpretive signage or offers educational programming to help connect visitors to the natural resources and histories of the places. While fixed interpretive signage continues to be an important storytelling resource in parks, relevance can be limited by season or changing messages over time, the release says.

By creating and implementing this AR program, state parks will be able to provide more timely information about what is happening in the parks and create more relevant experiences for visitors, and the program provides an opportunity to reach broader and more diverse audiences, according to the release.

In addition, the project provides an opportunity to create experiences that encourage responsible outdoor behaviors and habits, inspiring stewardship of sites visited. The 10 parks selected for the program are Barr Lake State Park, Chatfield State Park, Eleven Mile State Park, Cherry Creek State Park, Staunton State Park, St. Vrain State Park, Trinidad Lake State Park, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Ridgway State Park and Steamboat Lake State Park.

The Bat Acoustic Monitoring program received $7,234. Bats are important to Colorado’s ecosystems, helping control insect populations, according to the release. However, very little data exists on their presence and habitat use in state parks. With the grant, mobile and stationary data collection units will be created to monitor the elusive creatures’ behavior, roosting, and hibernation patterns.

Park visitors will be invited to participate in the data collection process. With the help of a bat-naturalist volunteer, visitors will be provided with ultrasonic microphones that pair with a smartphone app, along with instructions needed to observe and document bats in a mobile fashion. Stationary units use a professional-grade ultrasonic recorder to detect bat acoustic activity.

The grant is part of the Resource Stewardship Program, which is responsible for inventory, planning, and management advice for all natural and cultural resources in Colorado’s state parks. The BAM project represents a partnership with wildlife biologists, education sections, and multiple wildlife areas and state parks, including Chatfield State Park, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Lake Pueblo State Park, Ridgway State Park, Staunton State Park and Steamboat Lake State Park.

Great Outdoors Colorado invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,200 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for information.

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