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Friday, September 27, 2002

The Teams Meet
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North and South Team meet for the first time in 62 days.

North and South Team meet for the first time in 62 days.
Courtesy Gordon Williams

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The Teams Join at Pine Valley Campground, Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

The Teams Join at Pine Valley Campground, Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
Courtesy Stephen G. Maurer, PLIA

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Ken Chapman speaks at the Team joining ceremony.

Ken Chapman speaks at the Team joining ceremony.
Courtesy Stephen G. Maurer, PLIA

Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah.
The telltale signs of autumn are everywhere in the mountains of northern Utah. Golden aspen leaves shimmer in the breeze, scrub oak paint south-facing slopes rusty-red, yellow willows line the banks of small creeks. Cattle are down from the high country and now graze along the highway awaiting the end of the roundup; in a few days they will be gathered and moved down toward small towns that lie on the fringes of Wasatch-Cache and Uinta national forests. Hunters have replaced tourists and vacationers in the campgrounds; camouflaged, they move silently through the woods in search of deer and elk. The days are still warm and sunny—summer lingers on, reluctant to go.

Pine Valley campground lies a few miles up from Kamas, on the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway (Hwy. 150). It is a place reserved for groups only and can accommodate several hundred people along secluded, sparkling clean loop roads. The campground slopes down from the highway toward a trail which runs along a broad, sagebrush meadow offering spectacular views of aspen-splashed mountains in every direction.

Today something different is going on at Pine Valley: lines of chairs curl among the sagebrush just up the slope from the trail, seeking level ground, as if someone had tried to replicate a map’s contour lines with folding chairs. And there is more! A stage (!), flanked by flagpoles at each end, has been set up at the meadow’s edge; it sports a row of chairs and a rustic lectern carved out of a ponderosa pine log. Something is going on here, something that has little to do with camping because the people who occupy the chairs are not dressed as campers or hunters. The closest things to camouflage are the green uniforms of Forest Service men and women or the gray-green official attire sported by two gents from the Park Service. Everyone else is dressed like city folks out for a stroll in the woods.

Yes, something special is going on at Pine Valley campground: the two teams of American Frontiers: A Public Lands Journey are about to meet and conclude a 3,200 mile-long border-to-border journey across the public lands of the West. Unlike similar trails elsewhere, their route has never left public lands.

By four o’clock in the afternoon the chairs are filled and dignitaries have taken their places on the stage: Barbara Chow, Executive Director of Educational Foundation for National Geographic Society; Ken Chapman, President of Creative Events International; Lisa D. Madsen, Executive Director of Public Lands Interpretive Association, Jack Troyer, Regional Forester of the Intermountain Region, John W. Keys, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, and Fran Cherry, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management smile down at the crowd of approximately 175 invited guests which include the families of several team members.

The team joining ceremony begins with opening remarks by Ken Chapman after which a troop of boy scouts presents the colors and leads the assembled in the pledge of allegiance. “The teams are approaching,” Chapman announces and heads turn to the right, then to the left to scan the trail.

Wearing shorts, white T-shirts with the American Frontiers logo, and black fleece vests, the two teams emerge from behind screens of trees and approach the stage from opposite directions. Teams South comes from the left, Team North from the right; twenty-five men and women in all, looking ruggedly handsome and tanned after sixty days on the trail. They have not seen each other since the finish of their pre-trek training in Tooele, west of Salt Lake City on July 28. It is an emotional moment; their last steps become hurried and soon they are an embracing, shoulder-patting huddle of humanity in front of the stage.

Back in July, during launching ceremonies in Washington, D.C., each group was presented with flags which have flown over the Capitol, by Representative James Hanson (R, Utah). The teams carried the flags with them the entire way and now the audience stands silently as the star spangled banners slowly rise up the flagpoles and, caught by the wind, flutter against the sky.

Regional Forester Jack Troyer welcomes the teams on behalf of the Forest Service and of Wasatch-Cache National Forest, host for the event. One by one the other dignitaries also congratulate the teams on their accomplishment and on their efforts to educate the nation about the value of public lands through their adventures.

The formalities continue with Lisa D. Madsen presenting each team member with a hand made, one-of-a-kind walking stick, made of cherry wood for Team North, walnut for Team South. Then it is time to recognize others whose efforts were instrumental to the success of American Frontiers: Rodger Schmitt of the Bureau of Land Management Washington Office, Susan Alden Weingard and Gordon Williams, both of the Forest Service Intermountain Regional Office, Derrick Crandall of the American Recreation Coalition, Tim Salt of the Bureau of Land Management, American Frontiers volunteer Dennis Lund, Paul Slavik of American Honda.

Cathy Kiffe (Team South) and Rob Carlo (Team North) each speak on behalf of their teams of what the Journey meant for them. Then the flags are lowered and presented to Lisa D. Madsen and the team joining ceremony concludes.

By now shadows have gathered, bringing with them the chill of the approaching evening. The smoke of a campfire drifts through the air and mingles with the mouth-watering smell of barbeque. It doesn’t take long for the crowd to abandon the chairs and form a line in front of the serving tables for a Utah western barbeque supper.

It is near dark by the time the invited guests disperse and leave the two teams alone for a last night in the woods, alone with the thoughts and emotions about their once-in-a-lifetime experience that just have ended.—Stephen G. Maurer


List of All Dispatches
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Thursday, October 2, 2003
A Visit to Valles Caldera National Preserve
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Saturday, September 20, 2003
American Frontiers Reunion 2003
A year ago this September two groups of volunteers met in Wasatch-Cache National Forest outside of Salt Lake City, Utah in...
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Thursday, September 18, 2003
Team Joining Anniversary
It's hard to believe that it's been a year since Team North and Team South completed blazing the American Frontiers Trail....
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Monday, August 4, 2003
Team South Trekker Cathy Kiffe Takes New Job
This week a very prestigious private school contacted me about taking their Learning Center Director's position. I hestitated...
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Saturday, May 24, 2003
All Who Wander Don’t Get Lost--Jan Nesset
For 3,000 miles the Garmin Vista GPS unit guided the American Frontiers’ teams on their journeys across America’s...
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Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Kodak Comes Through—Again!
Eastman Kodak Co. was one of the sponsors of last summer’s American Frontiers Trek. Max HQ One-Time-Use cameras, donated...
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Thursday, April 24, 2003
Kay Gandy Keeps On Trekkin'
South Team member Dr. Kay Gandy has been accepted in the Fulbright-Hayes Seminars Abroad Program. She will be attending...
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Thursday, April 24, 2003
National Geographic Video of the Public Lands Journey Is Finished
Kevin Burnett at National Geographic Society’s audio-visual division has created a fifty-five minute-long video of...
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Friday, April 4, 2003
Goodbye, Good Luck, and Thank You!
Rodger Schmitt Retires from BLM
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Sunday, March 9, 2003
Kay Gandy Presents at Conference
If you haven’t been to New Orleans, then you really should try to go. The “Crescent City” has great food,...
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Saturday, March 1, 2003
Kay Gandy Treks East to West
Tomorrow is March 1st, and already there are signs of spring in Louisiana. I saw dogwoods and forsythia blooming, and hundreds...
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Monday, February 24, 2003
PLIA RECEIVES 2003 PARTNERS IN EXCELLENCE AWARD
Public Lands Interpretive Association (PLIA) was the honored recipient of the first joint national BLM—Forest Service...
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Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Sam Altman from Team South Writes
The weather in Kentucky is snow and more expected...we just heard from Bob Hammond...he was on his way to CO but was redirected...
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Monday, January 20, 2003
North Team Trekker Charlotte Talley Writes . . .
Here is a quick update on me since I have gotten back.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Mike Murphy (Team North) Reports
Dear America:
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Wednesday, January 8, 2003
Public Lands in Mississippi
The National Geographic Public Lands map arrived in the mail. I opened it, admiring the greens, golden yellows, and tans...
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Tuesday, January 7, 2003
New Job for Jessica Terrell (Team South)
Perseverance really does pay off! Three years ago, I moved to Missouri with no job and a brand-new biology degree. Far from...
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Tuesday, December 31, 2002
A Public Land Experience
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Friday, December 27, 2002
Gen Green (Team North) Writes
I thought I'd mention that I will start a new job in mid January. I will be setting up the GIS program for the Nature Conservancy...
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Friday, December 20, 2002
Bob Ashley (Team North) Reports
The American Frontiers trekkers may have finished their 3,000-mile journey, but the public is still discovering the events...
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Thursday, December 5, 2002
Student's Letter to Cathy Kiffe

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Wednesday, December 4, 2002
Trekker Cathy Kiffe Writes . . .
Gray and Beautiful
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Monday, December 2, 2002
Letter from Geography Student Shawn Kessler

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Monday, December 2, 2002
Jake MacLeod of Team South Writes . . .
While I was away on the American Frontiers Odyssey, my sister had a
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Sunday, December 1, 2002
Bob Van Deven's (Team North) Favorite Public Land
The following is a brief article about my favorite chunk of public lands, the Galiuro Mountains. The Galiuros are located...
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Sunday, December 1, 2002
Jan Nesset's Latest Trek
Canyonlands in December
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Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Jan Nesset in Snow Country
Snow Raspberry Bounty
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Monday, November 25, 2002
South Team Member Jessica Terrell Reports
National Trails Symposium
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Sunday, November 24, 2002
South Team Trekker Julie Overbough
The last time I saw Julie Overbough was on National Public Lands Day in Salt Lake City and at that time she looked like a...
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Sunday, November 17, 2002
Trekker Nesset Keeps on Trekking
The Bisti Badlands
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Friday, November 15, 2002
Jan Nesset writes . . .
Public Land Flows Through ItAt the outskirts of Durango where I figure I’m a half hour or so from my planned takeout in town,...
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Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Letter from Brent E. Garvin
Jan,
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Sunday, November 10, 2002
Richard Tyrrell: A Visit to Wharton State Park
It is a sunny Sunday afternoon and my wife Marcia and I are riding our horses in Wharton State Park in south central New...
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Thursday, November 7, 2002
A Day At Earth Analytic's Home
Earth Analytic, the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based company that specializes in geographic information systems, was of huge importance...
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Thursday, November 7, 2002
Dave Mensing Selected for Award
The American Trails organization, the principal non-profit organization representing federal, state, local, and commercial...
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Sunday, November 3, 2002
Using the Pictures
Yesterday I spent the day in a Math workshop. Ughhhh. I would rather, of course, be learning about forests, wolves, condors,...
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Tuesday, October 29, 2002
News from Kay Gandy
Kay Gandy reports that the recent National Council for Geographic Education conference in Philadelphia was a great success....
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Monday, October 28, 2002
Some Things Never Change
Revisiting an area comes with new discoveries. In September, on our first attempt at hiking a 10-mile loop in the Grand Staircase-Escalante...
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Sunday, October 27, 2002
Back To The Wave
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Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Settling Back . . . Sort of
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Friday, October 18, 2002
Rush, rush, rush
I sit here at a red light on the main thorough fare of Lafayette. Cars, zoom, rumble, and spew fumes, dart from one lane...
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Saturday, October 12, 2002
Kay's Songs
Here are the words to the two songs Kay Gandy sang at the farewell dinner at Snowbird: "American Frontiers Blues" and the...
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Wednesday, October 9, 2002
Home Again
We are back at school after the cancellation of school for the past week thanks to Lili.
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Monday, October 7, 2002
The Thing About Summits
I live in a place surrounded by both mountains and desert. To the north of Durango, Colorado, the San Juan Mountains rise...
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Saturday, September 28, 2002
Happy Trails To You
Dick Bass is a mountaineer, an author, a developer of ski areas, and an overall good fellow who, although in his seventies,...
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Saturday, September 28, 2002
National Public Lands Day Celebrates End of Journey
Salt Lake City
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Friday, September 27, 2002
The Teams Meet
Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2002
National Landscape Conservation System
The 264 million acres of BLM-managed public lands represent a priceless legacy and a long-term investment for the American...
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Monday, September 23, 2002
The Big Bone Yard
Just about anywhere you go in Utah, sooner or later you’ll encounter the fossilized remains of ancient life on earth....
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Sunday, September 22, 2002
Sand Dunes in Wyoming? You Betcha!
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Saturday, September 21, 2002
7000 Years in Southwestern Wyoming
Although southwestern Wyoming has never supported large populations of people, archeological evidence shows that people have...
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Friday, September 20, 2002
"Fear Finds Within Them No Resting Place"
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Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Three Cheers for Trona
Although the lands around the Green River in Wyoming have been used as travel routes by various groups of people over the...
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Wednesday, September 18, 2002
River of the Prairie Chicken
Each fall, about this time, most birds start getting restless, collecting in great flocks, and looking into the skies to...
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Tuesday, September 17, 2002
A Gift From the Past
The casual traveler traveling through southwestern Wyoming might think that nothing ever happens here, but they would be...
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Monday, September 16, 2002
Westward Ho!
Cast your mind back some 170 years, when the United States was a young country, looking west at their newly acquired domain,...
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Sunday, September 15, 2002
A Tribute
"What do you do all day?" my friend asks the rancher who invited us in for a glass of clear, well water."I'm just here."...
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Saturday, September 14, 2002
Wild Horse & Burro Adoption
Teton County Fairgrounds in Jackson, WY was the site of todayís Adopt-A-Horse-or-Burro Program, sponsored by the Bureau of...
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Friday, September 13, 2002
Wanted Dead (Not Alive): Noxious Weeds
One of the most pervasive and dangerous problems facing public lands managers right now is how to control the deadly spread...
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Friday, September 13, 2002
Searching for Team South!
I had planned to meet Team South on Lake Powell and while I had quite an adventure, things didn't quite work out as I had...
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Thursday, September 12, 2002
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon on September 9, 1996, President William Jefferson Clinton announced that by the authority...
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Wednesday, September 11, 2002
A Special Day and a Special Encounter
September 11th was a solemn day for all Americans and the North Team couldn't help but feel preoccupied as they loaded their...
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Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Wet Saddles and Muddy Trails
The Northern Team rolled into Grand Teton National Park on a rainy Thursday afternoon and pitched their tents in the Gros...
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Monday, September 9, 2002
Classrooms for the Nation
Whether you are fascinated by the mysteries of history, the story of fossils so minute you must use a microscope to view...
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Friday, September 6, 2002
Vermillion Cliffs National Monument
North of the Grand Canyon, stretching from the Colorado River on the east to St. George on the west lies what is commonly...
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Wednesday, August 28, 2002
Down the Colorado
When Sara Hatch of Hatch River Expeditions generously offered to meet the hikers from Team South in the bottom of the Grand...
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Monday, August 26, 2002
Great Job, Coconino!
I wanted to make all of you aware of the outstanding job that the Coconino National Forest did to prepare for and host the...
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Friday, August 23, 2002
Trekkers Inaugurate New Section of Continental Divide Trail
When the Trekkers arrived at Pipestone Pass, on MT Hwy 2, they participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a newly-constructed...
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Friday, August 23, 2002
Trekkers on the Coconino National Forest
The trekkers on the Coconino:
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Thursday, August 22, 2002
Trekkers Ride Motorcycles
Trekkers ride Motorcycles as part of Journey
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Tuesday, August 20, 2002
Trip Leader's Notes
All expeditions, treks or other adventures are only as successful as the supporting structure that allows them to move ahead....
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Monday, August 19, 2002
The Battle of Big Dry Wash
During the spring of 1882 a small group of White Mountain Apache warriors, sixty at the most, came out of their wilderness...
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Saturday, August 17, 2002
A Scorched Land
APACHE SITGREAVES NATIONAL FOREST, Arizona--The view from the top of Juniper Lookout Tower is 360 degrees but it is 360 degrees...
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Friday, August 16, 2002
Adventure in Helena National Forest
The support team arrived in town on the 13th and were a very pleasant group to work with. We provided what office space we...
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Monday, August 12, 2002
Report from Gila National Forest
For the Wilderness Roundtable on August 7th, about 32 attendees participated. Attendees represented the diversity of southwest...
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Saturday, August 10, 2002
Team North Spreads the Good Word
Team North has been delighted with the first two educational programs they staged to let people know about their journey...
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Thursday, August 8, 2002
Team South: The First Days
The American Frontiers Journey, a trek from the Mexican border to the
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Monday, August 5, 2002
Entering Flathead National Forest
District Ranger Jimmy Deherrera and myself met the trekkers at
   >> more...

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Saturday, August 3, 2002
Lake Valley Reception
Lake Valley, NM--The monsoons have arrived. All afternoon, while PLIA Executive Director Lisa D. Madsen and I drove down...
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Saturday, August 3, 2002
Northern Team backpacks through Glacier National Park
Team North is making their way through Glacier National Park, enjoying both spectacular mountain scenery and friendly people....
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Friday, August 2, 2002
Historical Talk at Lake Valley Ghost Town
The Southern Team traveled today to a boom town gone bust-- Lake Valley New Mexico. There they visited the museum, maintained...
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Friday, August 2, 2002
Interactive Map Now Available
This interactive map is updated regularly with GIS data, pictures, video, and other memorable moments from this great adventure....
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Thursday, August 1, 2002
Warfare and Settlement on the Rio Grande
While the American Frontiers trekkers blaze a new route through the Chihuahuan desert of southern New Mexico, they aren’t...
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Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Trek Teams Begin Their Journey; DC Kickoff Event Attended By Interior & Agriculture Secretaries
This morning, at 7 am MST, as the sun began to warm the Chihuahuan desert soil and melt the snows of Glacier National Park,...
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Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Welcome to the Chihuahuan Desert
The extreme southern portion of the American Frontiers Trek route starts at the US-Mexico border near Las Cruces, New Mexico....
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Saturday, January 1, 2000
Free Public Lands Map & Book Available From PLIA
As part of the continuing effort to raise awareness of and to provide education about our public lands, PLIA is offering...
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