Friends of the Dunes, Inc. was founded in 1989 to provide a forum for citizen involvement at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
The Friends of the Dunes Student Research Grant Program provides financial support for students wishing to engage in a research project that relates in some way to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
Eligible expenses include equipment, supplies, and transportation.
An amount up to $500 may be requested to be used within the school year including a pass Disneyland, defined as June 1 through May 31.
Applications may be submitted as early as June 1 for the upcoming school year and will be evaluated monthly for as long as funds are available.
Applications will not be accepted after January 15.
Student applicants must have an Adult Sponsor, who provides guidance and approves the student’s research design and safety considerations.
The application form may be printed out here.
Note to teachers: The purpose of this grant is to support individual students. Through projects supported by this grant, we may learn more about Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. We may also help kindle a passion in a student that leads to a research-related career. Teachers may serve as Adult Sponsors (and are encouraged to do so), but the purpose of this grant is specifically to support individual students. This is not a grant for general classroom supplies and equipment for teachers or schools.
Tayler Rocha, a junior at Monte Vista Senior High School, was the first recipient of the Friends of the Dunes Student Research Grant. The purpose of the grant is to provide financial support for supplies, equipment, or travel for students conducting scientific or cultural research studies relating to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. In her project, Macroinvertebrate and Nutrient Response to Stream Water Quality After a Wildfire in Medano Creek, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Tayler studied the impact of the 2010 Medano Wildfire on water quality and invertebrate diversity in Medano Creek. Tayler was awarded the student research grant to provided needed financial support for her project. Tayler won high honors at the San Luis Valley Regional Science and Engineering Fair and the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair. Last spring, she advanced to the International Science and Engineering fair where she competed with over 1500 high school students from 70 different countries, territories, and regions. Tayler earned Second Place in the Environmental Science Category in the overall competition and a First Place Award from the Society for Freshwater Science. Tayler credits a caring teacher and the opportunity to be involved with science fair in making a significant, positive change in her life.
You can read more about Tayler’s story here.
Her is her project abstract:
by Tayler Rocha, Monte Vista High School
This study evaluated water quality and macroinvertebrate population differences on two affected sites and one control in the Medano Creek drainage after a wildfire. Methods followed River Watch protocols for all samples collected, except turbidity which was measured using a turbidimeter at the Bureau of Reclamation. It was found that dissolved oxygen was higher on the control, and pH, alkalinity metals and turbidity was higher on both burn sites compared to the control. Chloride, sulfate and phosphateswere all higher on the burn sites for May and November samples. During the July macroinvertebratecontrol sample, mayflies composed 71% and weighed 768.5 mg, whereas caddis and stoneflies combined at ~5% and ~190 mg of the population. Combined mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies on both of the burned sites were less than 50% of the total macroinvertebrates. Caddisflies were more numerous, had longer lengths, and a higher biomass on the lower burn site compared to both the middle burn and control sites. For the July sample, there was more species diversity and greater numbers at the control compared to burned sites. During September samples collected after a flood event, all population numbers were lower, but particularly on the burned sites, with the control sample at 339 insects, and the burned sites at 19 and 14 respectively. Because of all the data collected from April through November, it can be concluded that wildfire does have an impact on water quality and macroinvertebrate populations especially after flood events which was predicted in the hypothesis
The Friends of the Dunes is a non-profit citizen’s support group for Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. In cooperation with the National Park Service, the Friends provide a forum for citizen involvement in planning decisions, focus public interest on issues and need, and provide volunteer and financial aid for projects beyond the scope of the park’s budget.
The Friends of the Dunes has provided much benefit to the park and its visitors. Because we are an all-volunteer group, there are very few operational costs - donations genuinely have a direct impact on the park. Here are some of the things we have accomplished:
Dunes Wheelchair. Provided balloon-tired wheel chairs specifically designed for sand to give handicapped visitors an opportunity to get out in the sand
Dark Night Skies Telescope. Provided a large telescope and other support for the dark night skies program, which has become one of the most popular programs in the park
Cultural/Scientific Research Grants. Secured and managed substantial grants for major archeological and scientific research projects within the park. When a large water development near the park posed a potential threat to the dunes, it was the need for research to understand the role of water within the park system that lead to the formation of the Friends of the Dunes.
Junior Ranger Program. Provide ongoing support in the form of materials, supplies, and volunteers for both the Junior Ranger Program and Junior Ranger Day (the former typically impacts thousands of students a season and over a hundred in a one-day special event)
Ambassadors for Wilderness. We have provided support for this unique, award-winning program in which three rangers and an intern take groups of ten middle school or high school students (one group at a time) into the wilderness areas of the park for an extended backpacking trip focusing on wilderness experiences and education)
Cultural Activities. Sponsored various cultural activities and programs at the amphitheater during the summer season.
Student Research Grant. Provide funding for supplies, materials, or equipment for high school students interested in doing research projects related to the park. Last year’s grant recipient studied the impact of the Medano fire on aquatic insect abundance and diversity in the park. Her project advanced through the science fair process all the way to the International Science and Engineering Fair where she won numerous substantial awards competing against students from around the world. Her project was displayed in the Visitors Center this summer (it was recently taken down but may have been there at your visit).
We are very committed to ensuring that donations are used to support research, education, and cultural activities related to the significance of this unique and wonderful place. Your donation will truly have a positive impact, and it is much appreciated!
schedule of current ranger programs and activities
The following titles and other related books and materials are available through the Great Sand Dunes Bookstore at the park visitors center.
Great Sand Dunes The Shape of the Wind
by Stephen Trimble
The story of Great Sand Dunes: the sand, the animals, the plants, and the history with fullcolor pictures. New Edition, completely revised & updated!
Essential Guide to Great Sand Dunes
by Charlie & Diane Winger
The “essential” guidebook to Great Sand Dunes and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Many color pictures and maps along with copious amounts of information for planning your trip and keeping you oriented while in the area.
Autographed copies available from the authors at the Winger Bookstore (external site).
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Between Light and Shadow
by John B. Weller
A spectacular photographic essay about Great Sand Dunes with over 75 extraordinary full-color photographs taken over a 3 year period during every season. This is a unique expose’ of the Dunes never done before.
Valley of the Dunes
Photography by Wendy Shattil & Bob Rozinski
Text by Audrey DeLella Benedict
A beautifully illustrated and well-written softcover book that takes the reader on a breathtaking tour of the San Luis Valley. Great Sand Dunes is featured prominently throughout.
Sand To Summit: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve DVD
This recently completed film on Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve covers all the major aspects of America’s 58th national park. From the snow-capped tundra of the high country to the lush wetlands of the valley floor the viewer is taken on a spectacular tour of the tallest sand dunes in North America. The Dunes, of course, are the crown jewel of this diverse natural system. (Main Feature: 22 minutes) Also included: previous park film, interviews, still images and more.
Between Light and Shadow DVD
Photographer, John B. Weller documented his amazing and often profound experiences while producing this award winning book by the same name. The viewer will accompany John as he traverses the Great Sand Dunes from January through December over a period of 3 years. (30 minutes; an additional 60 minutes of images and interviews with Park staff is included)
Hourglass Newsletter is produced and published by Friends of the Dunes, Inc., a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to supporting Great Sand Dunes.
Inquiries may be sent to the attention of:
Friends of the Dunes
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
11500 Hwy. 150
Mosca, CO 81146.
The popularity of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve has increased tremendously. To keep pace with expanded needs the Friends are helping to provide interpretive displays, visitor services, trail construction, and research into the history, geology, vegetation, and wildlife of the area. We welcome your support of these activities.
You can help! Join Friends of the Dunes in providing volunteer and financial support towards protecting the Dunes and enriching visitors’ experiences! Your contributions will help fund services and activities which make a visit to the Park more enjoyable.
Membership Benefits: Each member will receive: Great Sand Dunes pin, tri-annual newsletter, advance notices and invitations to special events such as lectures, seminars, concerts, and the annual meeting.
An ASSOCIATE will also receive a copy of Shape of the Wind by photographer/writer Stephen Trimble.
A PATRON will receive a copy of Shape of the Wind and an annual pass to the Dunes.
Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Download a membership form here. You will need Adobe Reader to open this document:
Friends of the Dunes Membership Form.pdf