Biology class began a little different Monday for Carson High School student Chad Plattsmier.
He and other 10th-grade biology students spent about an hour traipsing through sagebrush in the Ambrose Natural Area along the Carson River to plot where they want to build a new trail.
Although the biology class project is expected to take the remainder of the school year to complete, or even part of next year, students have participated in planning all along.
For Chad, that meant deciding on one of two trails students walked through Monday. He much preferred the higher one over the lower one he was on.
"You can't see the hills from here and you can't see the water from here either," he said. "The top one has more scenery."
While students will not likely return to the area until late winter or early spring, they did mark off potential trails with yellow caution tape. And, according to biology teacher Julie Koop, the new trail will be an improvement over the previous one.
"This one will be a little longer, probably about a mile and a half," she said. "The last one became a victim of vandalization as well as high water. We just want to have (this one) up a little higher."
Re-building a trail means pulling out past signs for the old one, Chad and his 10th-grade classmates learned.
The 16-year-old struck his shovel into the dirt under a "Carson High School Interpretive Trail" sign and, with the help of three other classmates, pulled it out.
New interpretive signs describing wildlife and plants in the area will be put up, but first, the trail plan must be approved by the city. And then Koop hopes staff from the city's Parks and Recreation Department will help students clear the trail.
Chad said he would like to see information about the indigenous wood duck, which he says is endangered, incorporated into trail markers or fliers. The prior trail flier included information on willows, birds, cottonwoods and shelter boxes for the wood duck.
"They're very pretty," said Chad, who has never seen one in the Ambrose area. "They have dark black eyes. They're really tropical-looking, but they're real pretty."
"The last time, we built the trail in one year," she said. "This is going to be a bigger and better trail, so it could take a little longer."
Student Logan Kuhlman, 15, thinks when the trail is built, it will inspire residents to come to Ambrose Natural Area.
"It's great," he said. "It'll get the community out here so they walk and see the beautiful sagebrush. We're going to lay it out as long as we possibly can. We're going to make this the best walking trail that Carson's ever seen."
Students took water samples before heading back to Carson. Much of the afternoon was spent keeping up with Koop as she led students through sage.
"She's very enthusiastic about (the project)," said student Roman Cortez, 15, who moved to Carson City from California recently. "She's obsessed about it. She really wants to finish."
Monday was not the first day the class visited the area. During one of two previous trips, they heard from Mark Kimbrough, director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, who talked about trail building.
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.