BOZEMAN – Learning to track grizzly bears is like looking at the world with completely new eyes, says Gregg Treinish.
His organization, the Bozeman-based nonprofit Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, links scientists in need of data with adventurers who want to protect the environments they travel in.
Last year ASC offered a series of grizzly bear tracking workshops open to the public. For this year’s workshops, ASC has teamed up with the Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors Initiative, a program that aims to ensure veterans and their families get to enjoy the land they served.
Together, they will offer free grizzly bear tracking programs in the Gravelly, Snowcrest and Tobacco Root mountains during three weekends in September. Participants will spend two days tracking and two nights camping, and will receive training on the areas they are traveling in, as well as non-invasive grizzly bear tracking techniques and DNA collection.
“We’ll give you skills to pay attention and to see far more than you ever have out there,” Treinish said. “It’s an opportunity to be intimately involved in understanding grizzly bears and the grizzly bear issue, and to contribute to their management in a hands on way.”
The goal is to foster an ethic of stewardship and an appreciation for wilderness, as well as honoring military veterans and families. A limited number of spots will be available to the public—the rest will go to veterans and their families, Treinish said.
These citizen-science programs cultivate a sense of stewardship for the environment, as well as a sense of community and family.
“You can never go into the mountains and feel unchanged,” said Stacy Bare, the Sierra Club Military Family and Veterans Initiative coordinator, and also a veteran. “When you’re working together with such amazing animals like grizzlies, you have a touchstone experience. When things get tough, you have a wonderful experience or a memory to return to and you know you can get outside on your own with your family in a fun, safe way.”
The Sierra Club learned about ASC through a New York Times article featuring the nonprofit and its initiatives this March.
“We really want to support the interaction between the community and military families and veterans,” Treinish said, noting they’ve already had someone sign up from as far away as Ohio.
The workshops will take place Aug. 31 – Sept. 2, Sept. 7 – 9 and Sept. 21 – 23 and are offered at no charge. For more information or to sign up, visit adventureandscience.org/trackbears.html.