Posts Tagged 'Natural areas'

Update: Urban Wildlife Project

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

A few weeks ago we wrote about our new prototype project, the Urban Wildlife Photography Challenge. We wanted to create an exhibit where the content (in this case, photos) came from the community, and where visitors could interact with the content and add their experiences, too. Working with Maria Mortati from Gyroscope, Inc. (the wonderful crew who’s helping us design the exhibit master plan for the new Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center), we came up with the idea to create what we’re calling the Urban Wildlife Photography Challenge. The exhibit opened on October 17th.

Using Flickr as our “home base,” we asked the community to send us photos of wild animals or plants in urban settings here in northern Colorado. We received 120 submissions from Fort Collins, Estes Park, and Timnath — photos of everything from snapping turtles (who knew we had snapping turtles in Fort Collins?) to butterflies, and of course the ever-popular elk on the golf course in Estes Park (my personal favorite).

Our fantastic exhibit designer Cory Gundlach came up with a clip rail system where the printed photos from Flickr could be displayed on the wall in the prototype exhibit area (see photos below). And this is where the fun really gets going: beyond just looking at and admiring these great photos, visitors can rearrange them on the wall, add Post-It note comments and tags to the photos, and add their own content by drawing a picture of an urban wildlife encounter they’ve had, or writing a “field note” about it.

One of the most important pieces of information we want to capture from each of these contributions is where it happened. We asked that photos submitted through Flickr be “geotagged,” and that drawings and field notes left by visitors to the exhibit also include a location. Each photo, field note, and drawing has a number assigned to it, and a corresponding number is placed on the large maps on the back wall of the exhibit. The effect is really cool — we’re really starting to see clusters of activity, and not surprisingly, those clusters are popping up in a lot of Fort Collins’ wonderful urban natural areas.

There are a lot of things about this exhibit that we’re really excited about — and I think the biggest one is that every day, it’s different. We’ll be adding new photos as we get them, and every day we’re seeing new drawings and field notes that visitors have contributed. It seems like people are really digging it. People have been a little shy about actually rearranging the pictures, but hopefully that will get going soon as well. Or I may just go arrange everything by color, as I’ve been so tempted to do!

An exhibit built by the community, and curated by the community — we’re loving it. Come be a part of it too. You can upload your urban wildlife photos to our Urban Wildlife Photography Challenge Flickr group, or come to the Museum and draw a picture, write a field note, and interact with the photos already on display. It’s your exhibit — go for it!

The Urban Wildlife exhibit, with photos on the left wall and maps on the back wall

The Urban Wildlife exhibit, with photos on the left wall and maps on the back wall

The clip rail system

The clip rail system

Photos, field notes, and drawings with map numbers

Photos, field notes, and drawings with map numbers

The Fort Collins map

The Fort Collins map

A visitor-contributed drawing

A visitor-contributed drawing

Field notes

Field notes

Photo with a Post-It tag

Photo with a Post-It tag

Don’t disturb those artifacts! (And here’s why.)

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation, and Dr. Brenda Martin, Curator, Fort Collins Museum

In the first part of this post, we talked about what to do if you come across an artifact or other cultural resource while out enjoying our natural areas and open spaces in and around Fort Collins. Here are the reasons why you should not disturb them:

IT IS DISRESPECTFUL: These resources are part of the cultural legacy of people who have lived here, and leaving them alone demonstrates respect for the people who made them or owned them. It also allows others to enjoy them today and in the future. Many Native American groups with ties to this area believe that objects are still connected to the people who made them, and collecting them disrupts those connections between the present and past peoples and the land.

IT IS ILLEGAL: According to Colorado State law, it is illegal to knowingly take a single artifact, or excavate, damage, or destroy any prehistorical or historical resources on land owned by the City of Fort Collins. A person can be fined for a misdemeanor and offenders may face a fine, time in jail, or both.

IT IS A LOSS: Once an object is removed from its surroundings, it loses its ability to educate us about the past. Additionally, objects are often fragile and when people handle them they can break, or the oils and acids on our skin can permanently damage them.

REMEMBER: The most effective things you can do to help preserve our cultural heritage is to have respect for the artifacts and the people who made them, the laws protecting them, and to leave them alone if you find them. If you do find an artifact, please contact a reliable resource (such as the Fort Collins Museum at 970-221-6738) as soon as you can.

artifacts


What to do with that artifact?

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural and Interpretation, and Dr. Brenda Martin, Curator, Fort Collins Museum

One of the many things we at the Fort Collins Museum do “outside of our walls” is to work with the City’s Natural Areas Program to help interpret and protect the cultural resources found in our natural areas. We have a wonderful abundance of natural areas to enjoy, and with the opening this summer of the City’s Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Larimer County’s Red Mountain Ranch Open Space, it’s very important to all of us that people know the right thing to do if they find an artifact. This is part one of a two-part series.

Line shack at Red Mountain Ranch Open Space

Line shack at Red Mountain Ranch Open Space

Fort Collins and the surrounding area have a long human history that reaches back thousands of years. Because people have had a relationship with this land for so long, evidence of their presence is all around us, especially in the form of artifacts. An artifact is an object made, used, or transported by humans, and includes things like arrowheads or tools made from stone or bone, or historical objects like buttons or glass bottles. Other cultural resources that you may come across include prehistoric stone circles or fire hearths eroding out of a trail bank, or historic structures that are at least 100 years old.

As you enjoy the city’s parks, trails, and natural spaces, there’s a chance you may find an artifact or note another type of cultural resource. You can help preserve our collective cultural legacy by taking simple steps to protect these valuable assets:

  • Leave it alone! As tempting as it is to pick up an artifact or walk around inside a structure, leave it as you found it, even if it looks as if it may be damaged. If you have a camera or a cell phone with a camera, take a picture of it.
  • Record its location. For example, estimate the object’s distance along a trail by noting its location relative to nearby landmarks. If you’re lucky enough to have a GPS device with you, record the object’s coordinates. Again use your camera to help note the artifact’s location.
  •  Tell a reliable source. As soon as possible, contact the Fort Collins Museum (970-221-6738) and tell us what you have seen and where it is located so that we can investigate under the auspices of a valid permit.

In part two, we’ll talk about the reasons why it’s important not to disturb artifacts and other cultural resources.


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