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The Steppe Dragon Trails

Summer projects
Project Dates
From 16 June to 25 June, 2020
(10 days)

Project Location
The Uitag Natural Monument, which is in the Askiz District of Khakassia, Russia
Long-Term Goal of the Project
The rational development of eco-tourism with proper management of tourists to minimize impacts in the region; also the strengthening of our local eco-educational programs

Project Languages
Russian, English
Project Location
The Uitag Natural Monument is a protected area that is only a square mile in size. The nearest settlements are the Khakassian villages of Katanov, Kamyshta and Ust-Kamyshta.

The region around Uitag is very picturesque, with mountains that separate the flatlands of the Uibat and Sagai Steppes. What is very unique about this place is that you can find pre-historic fossilized plants here—including lepidodendrons, that grew in this area some 400 million years ago, and which now are visible along the surface of the mountain ridges. The natural monument here is also famous for its rare living plant species, several of which are listed as endangered in the Red Book for Khakassia. Some of them have odd-sounding names, which could be translated into English as: rocky bells, fleecy feathergrass, Ionian astragalus, shaggy boatmen, etc. There are also many rare Russian animals here, such as the Red-footed falcon, the steppe kestrel, the osprey, and Ruddy Shelduck.

You can also find no end of artifacts in this region, some dating as far back as 1300-700 BC (when the local Karakusk culture was predominant), followed by remnants from the Tagar (700-300 BC) and Tashtyk (100-500 AD) cultures. More recent tribes—such as the Yenisei Kyrgyz—also were dominant here on the steppe-lands during the time between 600-1300 AD.
The host for our project
Project Objectives
Creating and equipping a regional eco-trail within the Uitag Natural Monument so as to channel and manage visiting tourists and ensure that impacts from visitation are minimized, while at the same time setting the groundwork for a number of eco-educational activities for local residents.

Anticipated Extent of Work
Our volunteer team will clear and build a section of trail that will cover some 840 meters in length when completed. It will run from the trailhead at a parking lot upwards to a vista point located in the southwestern corner of the Uitag Natural Monument.
Description of our project work
The project will be organized and led for the duration by an experienced trail-building crew leader and an interpreter who will provide effective communication between participants.

On average the working day will last 6 hours, with a full lunch break. Depending on weather conditions and the physical condition of the group, this daily routine may change.
Living Conditions and Food
The volunteer camp site will be located some 3km east of the main Abakan-Askiz highway, on the left bank of the Abakan River, not far from
the Uitag work site.

The crew leader will establish an after-hours work schedule for participants to share duties in preparing meals and keeping the campsite in good order. Here is a sample menu for the camp.

The staff from the Protected Areas Office will pre-purchase all food stuffs for the duration of the project. We will also provide a full inventory of trail-building equipment and tools, along with two-person tents, and a mobile camp shower.

You will be able to communicate with the outside world during this project. To ensure that there is an adequate supply of energy, the Protected Areas Office will bring in a gas generator. However, we recommend that you bring power banks for charging your phones.

When we return to Abakan the entire group will overnight at the Scarlet Sails hostel (located at 117 Pushkin Street).
Project Assignments and Weekends
The trail-building site where we will be working is going to be located some 3km from our base camp. However, we will have the use of a bus to travel back and forth between the sites. Please note that volunteers will be expected to work with heavier tools (such as shovels, picks, hand-saws, etc.).
You will also be asked to move heavier stones, and otherwise build various structures along the trail route.

We also recommend that you bring your own backpack, one that could hold up to 70 liters in volume. It would be helpful to bring along a smaller daypack too, one that holds 10-30 liters, for you to use along the trail every day.

The local climate can be windy and rainy from time to time. So you might want to bring a light rain-jacket along with a warmer sweater and heavy trousers. Your choice of shoes will also be important—they should be light and comfortable, with non-slip soles. The weather in Khakassia can also tend
to be hotter in June. So you should also pack some lighter clothing, and a bathing suit as well.

We strongly recommend future participants of the project to familiarize themselves with the list of necessary equipment, information about tick safety, and also with the general information for GBT volunteers.

Weekends: June 15 before the start of this project we will lead a tour of the city of Abakan for anyone who wishes to join us. Time: between 5 and 6pm. We also plan to organize several side-trips around he Republic of Khakassia over the weekend of June 20-21.
Transportation
All volunteers will be asked to meet on June 16th at 9am in the city of Abakan. The meeting spot will be on the front steps of the government building where the Office of Parks and Specially Protected Areas is located (at 4A Vyatkina Street).

We recommend that you arrive the day before the start of the project, or very early in the morning on the first day. In fact, if you want to participate in our special excursion around Abakan on June 15th, then you definitely need to arrive into the city on the morning of the 15th. Our gathering place for the local tour of Abakan will be at the Scarlet Sails hostel.

From Abakan the group will leave by bus to the main project camp site. On the last day of the project, on June 25th, our group will return by bus to Abakan, for one last evening together in the Scarlet Sails hostel, where our project will officially come to an end.
Cost of Participation
Participant fee for this project will be 10,000 rubles.

Participants can register for this project by sending us copies or screenshots of your travel tickets. You will be able to make this fee on the very first day of the project. We therefore advise that you read everything carefully in this project description before submitting your application.

Organizers provide:
· Transfer from the city of Abakan to the Uitag project site and back to Abakan,
· Accommodation for the last night in Abakan in the Scarlet Sails Hostel (117 Pushkin St),
· A guides city tour of the city of Abakan on June 15th,
· Field trips around the Republic of Khakassia on June 20-21,
· Project leaders and interpreters,
· Full first-aid kits (if you have a chronic issue or require certain medications, please be sure
to bring them with you),
· All meals and food for the duration of the project,
· All the necessary trail-building tools and equipment, including a tent (each tent can accommodate from 2 participants).

In the case of unforeseen circumstances the GBT reserves the right to cancel the project, or to make changes to the program itinerary, while at the same time informing all participants of these changes.

Note: if you do not receive a response to your initial online application within one week, then please contact our volunteer coordinator directly at: international-volunteers@greatbaikaltrail.org.