Save the Soil Crusts!



Your class is going on a mountain biking trip!

People from all over the world come to mountain bike in the canyonlands around Moab, Utah.

The slick rocks, sand, and canyons make biking fun and exciting. Unfortunately, many bikers do not stay on the path. When they go off the path, they sometimes destroy the delicate cryptobiotic soil crusts.

Who cares? You should! These crusts are alive and they stop wind and water erosion.

The picture above shows walking and biking paths through the crytobiotic soil crusts.

The Mission

Learn about the soil crusts. Plan a mountain biking trip to Moab. Create a poster to remind bikers about the importance of cryptobiotic soil crusts. Write a letter to the editor about whether new mountain biking paths should be created. Write a short story about your adventure to send to your friends back home.

The Process

Activity 1:

Find a reading buddy. Talk about what you already know about cryptobiotic soil crusts. Then, read about them. Talk about the new things you learned.

Choose an option that fits your information need:

Activity 2:

Locate Moab, Utah on a map. Use MapQuest to find out the route and distance from your school.

Based on drive 500 miles per day, how many days will it take to reach Moab?

Create a map of North America. Where are crytobiotic soil crusts most likely to be found? Why do you think people like to mountain bike in these same areas?

Activity 3:

We need to warn other mountain bikers about the crytobiotic soil crusts. Create a poster that explains what it is, why it is important, how it is killed, and what bikers can do to save it.

Or, create a soil crust warning poster for people who might be doing other activities such as walking, bird watching, hiking, or reading in the park.

Use a word processor to do the writing. Draw your own pictures or copy the pictures from the information pages.

Activity 4:

There's a big controversy about building a new bike path near Moab. These paths would destroy crytobiotic soil crusts. Write a letter to the editor about your opinion regarding this issue. Be sure to support your opinion with facts. Write your letter in the word processor.

Or, pretend you're one of the following people - a bike shop owner, an environmentalist, a park ranger, or a biker. Write a letter to the editor from their perspective.

Or, learn more about slick rock cliffs and canyons. Then, design a picture or model that shows a path through the slick rock that would not hurt the soil crust.

The Conclusion

Wow! You've had a great adventure. Write a short story or song about your trip. Share it with the other students at your school.


Note: All photographs taken with a digital camera in Arizona and Utah.
Developed by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 04/02.