SEEC receives grant to study air quality

A $5,000 grant from the National Science Foundation-backed AirWaterGas Sustainability Research Network will help Soaring Eagle Ecology Center expand its citizen-science project monitoring air quality at elevations between 7,000 and 8,400 feet.

The grant will support on-going air monitoring projects and the development of elementary school curriculum that explores air quality and basic geology related to oil and gas development. Summer airflow patterns combine with strong sunlight, emissions from urban sources and energy development to cause peak ozone measurements in mountain communities. Keeping an eye on these trends is becoming increasingly important.

SEEC, funded in 2001 and based in Red Feather Lakes, is a non-profit organization with a cadre of enthusiastic volunteers dedicated to conducting classes and programs that increase knowledge and interest in science among people of all ages. Classes are free. SEEC works closely with Red Feather and Livermore schools to develop appropriate curriculum and offer a wide range of workshops, talks and classes for all ages.

Board member and active volunteer, Judy Viola, wrote the grant for SEEC with encouragement and assistance from Julie Winchester, Jean Carpenter and Cindy Henk, all of whom have extensive scientific experience. After a competitive review process, grants of up to $5,000 were awarded. SEEC will receive $3,000 in the coming year and another $2,000 in 2016 to facilitate use of a portable air quality monitoring pod.

During the coming season, students and volunteers will monitor weather, air flow wind, haze, smog and visibility using a weather monitoring pod. “We will be able to provide a good baseline for measurements of winds and pollutants,” Viola said.

At a gathering in Boulder on March 7, SEEC volunteers will learn more about University of Colorado-based AirWaterGas, interact with CU faculty and with other grant winners from across the state that are engaged in similar projects, including air and groundwater quality monitoring in Greeley and assessing air quality in South Park, Pagosa Springs and the Durango/Silverton area.

For more information on SEEC and its summer programs visit their website at: seecatrfl.org.

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