Alternative spring break – day 1

26 03 2013

Monday was the first day of work for 10 students (including two site leaders) from the University of Missouri, here to work on public lands in Southwest Colorado on alternative spring break. Instead of going to Cancun or Fort Lauderdale or South Padre Island, these young men and women pursue service opportunities across the country. For more than a decade (13 years now?), San Juan Mountains Association, a nonprofit partner with BLM and the Forest Service on San Juan public lands, has organized work projects that always include at least one day in Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area. This year and last year, students will be and were here for two days. This year, as last year, students worked on the southeastern boundary fence. Last year, they rebuilt a section of fence that had been vandalized before the roundup (someone cut it in several places); this year, they’re installing braces, tightening some wire and replacing some other wire – maintenance projects much-needed on that fence line.

Volunteers from Mesa Verde and Four Corners Back Country Horsemen and the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association also are helping with the project. Some or all of the materials were purchased with funds from last year’s Director’s Challenge, awarded because of BLM’s partnership with Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners, made up of representatives from 4CBCH, MVBCH and NMA/CO.

From SJMA, Kathe Hayes and MK Thompson, from the Forest Service, Tom Kelly, and from BLM, Tom Rice, were overseeing the project.

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Sarah holds the wire strands to give Marshal room to dig a hole for a post as the first step toward building an H-brace.

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Four Corners BCH volunteer Bob Volger and student Emerald watch student Ellen pound in a stake to hold an H-brace to the post set in the hole dug by Marshal in the first photo.

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Student Kara helps Mesa Verde BCH and NMA/CO volunteer Tif Rodriguez tamp dirt around a post set at another H-brace while Forest Service fence-builder extraordinaire Tom Kelly supervises.

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From left, Chalen, Marshal and Aaron saw limbs off a juniper to make way for building braces using the tree. Of the 10 students on the trip, these are the group’s only guys. Chalen is one of the site leaders.

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SJMA’s MK painstakingly removes staples from wire embedded in the juniper tree seen in the previous photo. Moving forward, each tree used for braces will get protective staves to prevent this from happening (thanks, Tom Kelly!).

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Tif watches while Kara drills a hole for a spike through the brace and tree for stability.

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Emerald drills the way for another spike in another brace. Altogether, three sections of braces had posts dug and posts set in place. Because this area of Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area also is part of McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area, all the work had to be done by hand – no mechanical help such as chainsaws.

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Sarah holds wire while Bob, Tom Kelly and Tori (also a site leader) wrap wire around the H-brace and tree (with staves) to tighten.

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Bob, Tom Kelly and Tom Rice do the last bit of work for the day: tightening the wire around the farthest H-brace for stability.

Today, we’ll tighten and replace wire strands.

Thank you to everyone who is helping with this project! We so appreciate your work ethic and commitment to our public lands!


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3 responses

26 03 2013
Pat Amthor

Thanks for the informative article. The Alternative Break Program is so good for the young people who choose to participate. I have found them to be fun, bright and personable. What an experience for them here in the country I love and to get to see the horses I also love.

26 03 2013
Sarah Rose

wonderful 🙂 What a great thing for young people to be involved with!

26 03 2013
Puller Lanigan

Fabulous! And how wonderful that you were able to record it for posterity!

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