Students Build Friendships, Explore Colorado

December 30th, 2018

One of the core goals of the Chris Mikesell Foundation is to support Western State University students. Chris attended the University and participated in Wilderness Based Orientation and Wilderness Pursuits. The experiences in those programs helped Chris build friendships and experience the outdoors that he loved. The Foundation’s support of these programs allows other students to have the same life-changing experiences.

Photo credit: Western State University

Photo credit: Western State University

The Foundation has been providing grants to Western annually since its inception. The 2018 grant is in the amount of $7,000, to be split between the Wilderness Pursuits and Wilderness Based Orientation programs.

Wilderness Pursuits

According to Western State University, Wilderness Pursuits (WP) provides fun, affordable and professional co-curricular outdoor expeditions and resources for students. WP’s trips are student-led and are designed to meet the needs of a broad range of abilities and interests while developing outdoor skills and fostering community, citizenry, environmental stewardship and healthy living.

Students can choose from excursions featuring activities like whitewater rafting, rock climbing, multi-sport adventure, mountaineering, whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking and backpacking.

The Chris Mikesell Foundation’s grant allows for additional equipment purchases to provide a safe and fun experience for participants.

Wilderness Based Orientation

WBO is an opportunity for students to meet other new students, make meaningful connections, build friendships and get to know the incredible recreational opportunities that Gunnison has to offer before beginning the first semester.

With WBO, students are part of a group discovering what the great outdoors and the Colorado backcountry have to offer. Each WBO course is led by qualified student instructors who will provide instruction on both the adventurous activities and the upcoming college experience.

This Chris Mikesell Foundation provides a grant that allows students to receive a scholarship to participate in Wilderness Based Orientation.


Botanical gardens preserve nature’s beauty at the Bartlett Arboretum

October 15th, 2018

Just 20 miles east of Chris’ hometown, you’ll find the Bartlett Arboretum. A local treasure now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, it was established in 1910. Chris loved to explore the beautiful botanical gardens, hidden away at the edge of town in Belle Plaine, Kan. In addition to offering opportunities to tour the grounds, the Arboretum hosts private events and a series of concerts open to the public. Find out more about visiting the Bartlett Arboretum on their website.

Photo courtesy of Bartlett Arboretum

Photo courtesy of Bartlett Arboretum

It is important to the Foundation to give young people the opportunity to enjoy nature and preserve the environment’s natural beauty. With that in mind, a $1,000 grant was awarded in July 2018 to support the botanical garden’s operating costs through the Legacy Regional Community Foundation.

In total, the Foundation has provided $7,000 in grants to support the continued operation of the gardens, ensuring future generations can explore the preserved beauty of nature.

Work begins on Gunsight Bridge in Crested Butte

September 17th, 2018

More than 130 years of harsh weather with bitter winter cold and heavy spring run-off has taken its toll on Gunsight Bridge, which serves as a connection between the most popular trails in the Gunnison Valley and the town of Crested Butte.

The bridge was designed at a time before the ecology and hydrology of the Slate River were well understood. Not only is the bridge in disrepair, it needs to be redesigned and rebuilt to support natural water flow. Without it, the wetlands and habitats for beaver and Great Blue Heron are compromised.

Work began to replace Gunsight Bridge in early September 2018. -Photo Courtesy Crested Butte Land Trust

Work began to replace Gunsight Bridge in early September 2018. -Photo Courtesy Crested Butte Land Trust

The Gunsight Bridge replacement project is now underway, and soon the Slate River will be restored to its natural flow. The Chris Mikesell Foundation first donated to the Crested Butte Land Trust in support of this project in 2017. A second grant has been awarded with an additional $3,000.

In addition to preserving the wetlands and habitats for area wildlife, a new bridge will create a safe crossing to the area’s most popular trails. Upwards of 100,000 people use the Gunsight Bridge throughout the year.

Chris loved the time he spent in Crested Butte and was passionate about the need to retain green space in the Gunnison Valley. We’re proud to support this project in his memory, preserving the environment’s natural beauty and improving access to outdoor activities.

Read a thank you note from Crested Butte Land Trust Executive Director Noel Durant.

Thank you – Crested Butte Land Trust

August 3rd, 2018

Thank you for your generous gift of $3,000 toward the Crested Butte Land Trust’s Gunsight Bridge replacement. We are truly grateful that you have chosen the Gunnison Valley’s local land trust as a recipient of your continued generosity in memory of Chris.

We are putting your support right to work. In September, our engineer from Ridgeway, CO, with direction from our Colorado wetland ecologists, will start the deconstruction of the old bridge and calving elk, nesting great blue herons, and a myriad of other wildlife species – will soon see the benefits of returning the river to its natural flow. And, the community will have a new safe crossing to the Slate River drainage from town.

Your involvement is a vital part of this impactful work – taking care of the lands and trails Chris loved, in addition to protecting new places for the next generation to enjoy. So again, thank you for continuing to be an important partner to the Land Trust and for your passion for protecting the present for the future. We look forward to continuing to work closely with you on behalf of the Gunnison Valley.

Best regards,

Noel Durant
Executive Director
Crested Butte Land Trust

Read more about the Chris Mikesell Foundation’s contribution in this article: Work begins on Gunsight Bridge in Crested Butte.