EEPS REU summer program is in Minturn, CO to explore a variety of geologic settings spanning from rivers to glaciers, to learn about field skills in mapping, surveying and sampling, and to bond with each other through evening activities such as meal planning and preparation, and group lectures and presentations.

Organized by EEPS faculty project manager Caroline Masiello, fellow EEPS assistant professors Sylvia Dee and Mark Torres, along with EEPS graduate students Jackson Borchardt and William Larsen, are the expert guides for various field areas that will be visited over the next few days.

Minturn, CO is a home rule municipality (a city incorporated under its own unique charter) in Eagle County, not far from the more well known ski villages of Vail and Beaver Creek.  The town covers an area of about eight square miles and rests at an elevation of about 7861 feet (2396 meters).
Day 1: Friday 19 June
Students arrived Thursday and were met by EEPS Graduate and Academic Program Administrator Meagan McKellar and EEPS faculty and graduate students.  Meal planning and chores as well as shopping for supplies completed the day.
The morning of first day (Friday) focused on watershed processes along the Eagle River and its tributary, Cross Creek. The group participated in river chemistry activities as well as activities that focused on understanding water flux processes. In the afternoon they visited Cross Creek and to begin stream sampling and mapping activities.

Mark Torres talking with REU students sediment transport and nutrient cycling along the bank of Eagle River

“Today I learned what to look for when it comes to taking field notes. The first time practicing this was when we went to the Eagle River and discussed some of the rivers characteristics such as it’s width, depth, cross-sectional area, velocity, etc. We were able to practice calculating the velocity of the river in certain areas during the orange peel activity and it was very interesting how different parts of the river had completely different velocities.”  – Janae Washington

REU students Elizabeth Mann and Christian Pryor wear chest waders to access and sample the uncontaminated center part of the stream.

“I enjoyed discussing the inter-workings of regional watershed monitoring, bio-crust, and the complex systems that control river morphology. One of the (unplanned) highlights that occurred during the field trip today was when Carrie pointed out going “back in time” as you move further away from the riparian zone – the terrestrial zone adjacent to rivers or streams. It was fascinating to see this small microbial environment that eventually fosters healthy vascular flora. “- C. Pryor

Holly Loft of the Eagle River Watershed Council

Later that evening, the group also met with the Holly Loft, head of the Eagle River Watershed Authority who spoke about the environmental issues associated with the Eagle River.

“The most enlightening part of today was when Holly from the Eagle River Watershed Authority came to discuss water rights and watershed monitoring. It’s wild to think of water as a valuable resource that residents in -and extremely far from- the watershed fight for. Knowing that mountainous ponds are created by man to catch runoff from the roads, MgCl2 is used for melting road ice when it’s effects on the environment are unknown, and that there’s a “use it or lose it” policy in place for water rights all blow my mind. It’s difficult trying to summarize the wide breadth of topics and activities we encountered today, but it was an amazing experience to say the least.”  – Christian Prior

REU student Zachary Scott sums up Friday’s activities, “Going into the day yesterday, I was expecting to learn about hydrology and rivers from an entirely new perspective. Normally when I spend time at rivers, I focus on the plants and animals of the riparian zone, but I have never really thought about rivers as their own entity.

At the end of the day, I certainly felt as though these beginning expectations were met and exceeded. Not only did I learn some basic concepts in hydrology, but I also improved my skill at taking field notes and thinking about my surroundings from a more comprehensive scientific perspective. I also loved listening to Holly’s talk, especially because it helped me frame water in an environmental justice standpoint and realize why water is such a huge deal in areas that don’t receive as much rain as where I am from. The whole idea of water rights blew my mind — and I will definitely need to keep refining my ideas about these topics moving forwards.”