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Adventure Science featured in Get Out There Magazine

29 Apr

Adventure Science featured in Get Out There Magazine

Earth Day, April 22, marks the start of 100 Miles of Wild, the first eco-expedition of Calgary-based Adventure Science set against the inhospitable backdrop of North Dakota’s Badlands. Over the course of 10 days, teams of ultra-endurance athletes and scientists will run, climb, and trek through one of the United States’ last unexplored and most rugged acres of wilderness, documenting the state of the vastly shrinking wide open spaces now under threat from expanding development from the Bakken oil fields.

“The first 100 Miles of Wild project has a simple aim,” Adventure Science founder and PhD geologist Simon Donato said. “We will discover and report first-hand the condition of the wilderness that inspired President Theodore Roosevelt’s effort to preserve the rugged, wild spaces for all Americans and the world.”

Adventure Science is a neutral organization of volunteer experts and citizen-scientists. While members obviously appreciate wilderness, they also have diverse viewpoints about oil development and growth. What they share is a determination to collect information and make scientific observations ahead of the drill-bit. The goal of the project is not to tell communities what to do, but rather to help them gather the information they need to make informed decisions. The team will produce educational materials to teach students and the public about the natural and historical significance of the region, as well as to educate them about the relationships between oil development, natural, and cultural resources.

Andrew Reinhard, one of the team’s two archaeologists, noted, “[team member] Richard Rothaus and I had been planning a relatively casual Badlands journey for the past few years. As the Bakken Oil Boom exploded, we realized we needed to hit this idea hard.”

Expedition members are no strangers to wilderness travel, backcountry navigation, and extreme sports. Most of the science-athletes are ultra-marathoners, mountaineers, ice climbers, and solo explorers. One is an ex-Army Ranger. All are supported by a seasoned crew of search-and-rescue paramedics and safety personnel.

“In the Badlands,” archaeologist Rothaus explained, “anything can happen. The weather in April could bring anything from blizzards to tornadoes. There’s no drinkable water. We’re traveling over more than 20,000 feet of elevation change in a short amount of time. And the rattlesnakes might be waking up.”

Along the Badlands transect the team members will document the flora, fauna, historical sites, archaeology, and geology they encounter. Every hour they will stop, record photos and video panoramas, and make an audio recording to check for noise pollution, making notes on what they observe. The route and records will be carefully tracked with GPS units. The world can follow along on Twitter using @100MilesOfWild and the #ndbadlands hashtag. 

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Athlete scientists will document North Dakota Badlands – Bismarck Tribune

22 Apr

Athlete scientists will document North Dakota Badlands – Bismarck Tribune

A team of adventure scientists will take on the Badlands starting in April.

“100 Miles of Wild,” will put an eco-expedition in the North Dakota Badlands for 10 days beginning on Earth Day, April 22.

Teams of ultra-endurance, athlete-scientists will run, climb and trek through the rugged terrain and document the state of an area under pressure from Bakken oil field development.

The scientists are with Adventure Science, based in Calgary, Alberta. Besides being scientists, team members are marathoners, mountaineers, ice climbers and solo explorers. One is a former Army Ranger.

Adventure Science founder and geologist Simon Donato said the project has a simple goal.

“We will discover and report first-hand the condition of the wilderness that inspired President Theodore Roosevelt’s effort to preserve the rugged, wild spaces for all Americans and the world,” he said.

Team members will stop every hour to document wildlife, biology and geology in photographs and video, make sound recordings to document noise pollution and write individual observations.

Donato said Adventure Science is neutral, and while its members appreciate wilderness, they have diverse opinions about oil and growth.

“What they share is a determination to collect information and make scientific observations ahead of the drill bit,” he said.

Richard Rothaus, archaeologist with Trefoil Cultural and Environmental LLC in Sauk Rapids, Minn., is organizing the logistics and the route.

He said the group will consist of six scientists, plus a support staff. The eco-expedition will begin in the Killdeer Mountains and journey from the north to the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, including the Little Missouri National Grasslands.

“We’ll find out if there are places where we feel like we’re the only people alive or if we can hear truck traffic,” he said.

Rothaus said there is no baseline to compare this data against, though there are historical photographs that will used to make some comparisons.

“There isn”t a baseline. Who would create it? No one envisioned anything like this,” he said.

Andrew Reinhard, one of the team’s two archaeologists, said, “Rothaus and I had been planning a relatively casual Badlands journey for the past few years. As the Bakken oil boom exploded, we realized we needed to hit this idea hard.”

Rothaus said one group will chart a straight-line course in 10 days, followed by teams of marathoners who will do the same route in five days, making concentric sweeps off the trail to document conditions.

“We’re not going to be on existing roads and roads. If there is one, we don’t want to be on it. We’re trying to get to spots that are not visited a lot,” Rothaus said.

The information will be shared with anyone interested on a website and in a book, Rothaus said. The route will be tracked on GPS and people will be able to follow along on Twitter (@100MilesOfWild, #ndbadlands) or by visiting http://adventurescience.ca.

Rothaus is still planning the route and trying to anticipate conditions.

“Anything can happen in the Badlands. The weather in April could bring anything from blizzards to tornadoes. There’s no drinkable water. We’re traveling more than 20,000 feet of elevation change in a short amount of time. And the rattlesnakes could be waking up,” he said.