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High Country Bank Will Now Support Education and Interpretation Program on Salida’s River Trail

Walking along the Arkansas River, visiting Frantz Lake, or taking a stroll on Tenderfoot Mountain are treats just as they are. But imagine having the opportunity to learn about the fauna, history, and notable forebears along the way. This is exactly the plan of a motivated group of local organizations.

High Country Bank’s $10,000 donation is funding new interpretive and historical signage along Salida trails. From left are bank representatives Melissa Salazar, Elisa Taylor, Sarah Goodwin, Sylvia Veltri and Mercedes Jones​ standing with Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) Director Dominique Naccarato and GARNA members Bianka Isabella Martínez and Cat Anderson.

High Country Bank, in partnership with the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), City of Salida, Salida-area Parks Open-space & Trails (SPOT), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), and the Central Colorado Conservancy, is working together to install up to ten new educational/interpretive signs along Salida’s River Trail at Sands and Frantz lakes.

The bank’s $10,000 donation will fund the signs, which should be in place by the end of summer.

In addition, GARNA has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to create two Agents of Discovery educational digital hikes.

Agents of Discovery is an app that creates customized, location-based adventures. GARNA and the USFS have created interactive, family-friendly Agents of Discovery hikes that use GPS, augmented reality and virtual education tools to immerse hikers in local history as they go. These virtual hikes will be combined with educational signs along the way.

One of the Agents of Discovery hikes, along the Salida River Trail, begins at the Marvin Park parking lot and ends at Sands Lake. It explores the life of Teresita Sandoval, a Mestiza homesteader and Salida pioneer who helped found the city of Pueblo.

The other Agents of Discovery hike takes participants along Tenderfoot Mountain starting at the new Mountain Heritage Park on Spiral Drive. Hikers can learn about the remarkable Ute woman, Chipeta, who was the accomplished wife of Chief Ouray. Chipeta served as an advisor and was a critical participant in the politics between indigenous residents and white settlers.

Information on how to access the Agents of Discovery hikes will be included on the new signs.

The signs at Sands Lake, Franz Lake, and along the River Trail will include information about songbirds and other wildlife in the area, the importance of wetlands, responsible recreation ethics, hydrology, Smeltertown history, and the old border between Mexico and the United States.

At Mountain Heritage Park, the new signage is being created by the Chipeta Mountain Project. It will celebrate the rich history and culture of our mountain heritage and its role in modern recreation.

The signs will feature three significant mountain vistas: the southern end of the Sawatch Range, including 14ers Mount Antero, Mount Shavano, and Tabeguache Peak, and 13ers Taylor Mountain, Jones Peak, and Mount White; Ute heritage with centennial 13ers Mount Ouray and Chipeta Mountain, and Pahlone Peak; and the northern end of the rugged and dramatic Sangre De Cristo Range that includes hometown landmark Methodist Mountain.