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Families in the Forest contest winners announced

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Photo submitted The winners of the Families in the Contest are pictured with Ryan Swygman, Colorado State Parks and Wildlife and manager of Outdoor Heritage Day, Bill Edwards, Grand Valley District Ranger, and Derek Lynch, Cabela's retail marketing manag

Families visiting the forest is the goal of Outdoor Heritage Days. To encourage family outdoor adventures, the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife partnered with the Outdoor Heritage Day sponsors to promote the "Families in the Forest" contest. To enter, families with children under the age of 18, complete two activities on the Grand Mesa National Forest and write a short summary of their experience.

Bill Edwards, the Grand Valley District Ranger, supports this creative way to encourage families to visit the national forest. "The contest is designed to entice kids and their families to try something new outdoors. The activities vary from taking a hike, fishing, picnicking, riding a horse, bike or ATV on the Grand Mesa, visiting Lands End Observatory or just listening to a nature presentation at the Grand Mesa Visitor Center," he said. With stickers and a short written summary of their experiences, contest forms are entered into a drawing for some great prizes, including a one night stay in a Forest Service cabin!

This year's winners are first place, Kirstine Anne LeMaster from Cedaredge winning a stay in Moose Manor; second place, Byron LeMaster winning the Cabela's sponsored prize of a tent, sleeping bag and lantern; third place, Kierra Shannon from Grand Junction winning a Rocky Mountain Conservancy Interpretive Association sponsored prize of a hooded sweatshirt and two educational books.

This contest is offered every year. So next summer, stop in at the Grand Mesa Visitor Center and pick up an entry form, and share your outdoor adventure on the Grand Mesa!

Looking for an outdoor adventure this winter? The Grand Mesa offers groomed trails for snowmobiling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, hills for sledding and frozen lakes for ice fishing. The Forest Service will sponsor two guided snowshoe hikes on the Grand Mesa in February. This is a quiet activity perfect for observing animal tracks, learning about snow crystals, and how animals survive in the cold. Look for more information in January on the GMUG National Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/gmug.

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