Alternative spring break – day 2

27 03 2014

Not only are these University of Missouri students good workers, they’re good luck!

They arrived with smiles and good cheer and high energy, and we know why.

Chalen was the group leader for the second year this year. Last year, rumor had it that Chalen was up at 4 at least one morning (!) to cook breakfast for his crew. Kyla confirmed that while most UM alternative spring break groups are eating Cheerios and granola for breakfast and scrounging dinner on their own, Chalen is making sure his charges not only eat, they eat well! Kathe Hayes, with San Juan Mountains Association, sets up a couple of dinners for the students during the week each year, but I have it on good authority that the kids dined on steaks last night, courtesy of Chef Chalen. Niiiiice! (They deserve it!)

Wednesday’s stretch of fence work was fairly short, especially compared with Tuesday’s stretch. The goal was to finish relatively early, then take the students to the interior of Spring Creek Basin to see the reason for the work: the mustangs!

Tuesday’s work ended at a little arroyo that flows (when it rains) under the fence. The approach is fairly flat, but the north side is steep – and shaley (read: slippery). Tuesday, students built an H-brace on the flat side.


Wednesday, students ran wire up the steep slope to a newly-built H-brace (pictured is the brace built Tuesday). Students set up an impromptu relay system while carrying staves up the hill. Jake to Kyla in front, Sam to Dustin below, Casey and Chase bringing up the rear. It worked!


Forest Service firefighters Kevin and Chris helped with the work Wednesday. Kyla photobombed. Again. 🙂


From there, students removed wire and ran new wire to the next stop – a big juniper that students padded with 2-by-4s (to protect it from wire). This photo actually shows the female fence leadership in place Wednesday: Tif, Kathe and MK. They tied off the second strand of wire (you can see the first, bottom strand already in place and tight). Go, girls!

Removed wire: Check.


Ran new wire, four strands: Check. MK and Tom, both with San Juan Mountains Association, ran the last strand of wire from the padded tree to the H-brace while Grace, back right, helps channel the wire.


Dug post holes and built another H-brace: Check (oh yeah, and they carried these two thick, treated posts from the road just for this brace, at the top of the steep arroyo hill, to anchor the rest of the fence). Check, check! Here’s Chalen tightening the cross wires to strengthen the brace and Chris pounding in a spike (in a hole drilled earlier by Kevin) to secure the post to the cross piece.


Ran wire up the steep arroyo hill to then tighten and attach to T-posts: Check and check. Kevin carries the wire up the hill while Tif, Chris and Kyla tie it off at the H-brace below.


One more to show the steepness of the hill. Thank goodness it was just a short stretch!


Installed staves: Check. Mark, Sophia and Kyla made quick work of it.


Stopped for lunch: Check! 🙂


Here’s a shot of MK standing right in the bottom of the little arroyo while she attaches a stave to the wires. Tom and Chase are just up the slope. It’s just a narrow little thing, as you can see from the edge of the H-brace at the right edge of the photo.


And one more project to finish off the whole deal: Dustin, Chase and Tom installed a “dead person.” Back story: Most fence-building crews call these a “dead man” – “dead men”? But being the modern folks we are, and not to exclude an entire gender, in the last couple of years, with fence-building guru Tom Kelly – recently retired from the Forest Service – we started calling them “dead persons.” We’re innovative like that. This old tree trunk fit the bill perfectly; it will block the gap below the wire, and it will swing with any seasonal flows that wash through the arroyo.

Fairly early in the work, we had a couple of visitors:


Kevin Heiner with Southwest Conservation Corps brought his daughter, Mariah, to check a potential work project for one of his crews next year in Spring Creek Basin. Kathe Hayes with San Juan Mountains Association is trying to raise funds to bring a crew here to tackle a VERY steep – and long – hill coming up on the fence line. The hope is that the SCC crew might work at the same time as next year’s alternative spring break crew from Mizzou in order to add another dimension to the partnership.


While they were here, Kevin and his “executive director” also talked to students (Casey, Sophia, Mark, Chase and Grace pictured) about internship opportunities. Baby Mariah looks like a future outdoorswoman who will complete numerous projects on our public lands, doesn’t she?


Grand finale: Tif and Kathe follow the students to the vehicles after two days of work well done. How awesome is that fence??

Wednesday’s weather was quite a bit different than Tuesday’s: Somewhat cloudy, windy, cooler. Grey skies greeted us as we drove east with the idea to drive into the basin to look for mustangs to show the students. We saw Ty’s band at a distance from the road. By the time we got to Road K20E, we decided that the grey we were seeing was dust, not rain, so in we went. Chrome’s band delighted us by being a little closer to view!

And here’s where the good luck comes in. While it cut short our potential viewing of wild horses, the wind that stirred the dust also brought rain. Just a little. Enough to make the road the tiniest bit tacky. That’s more than we’ve had for weeks. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!

So, dear students, thank you, thank you again, from all of us, on behalf of our mustangs – which belong to all of you, too! Please enjoy the rest of your stay – Sand Canyon today? Travel safely back to Missouri. Come back and see us! We so appreciate all your hard work!


Back row from left: Mark, Kathe, Chalen, Chase, Casey, Dustin and Sam. Front row from left: Damon, Grace, Sophia, Tif, Jake and Kyla.

Thanks. 🙂 You all rock!



5 responses

27 03 2014

TJ and CREW! What an awesome gift for the mustangs!! TJ is correct, we have a nation full of wonderful young people who are going to continue to care for animals, nature and the environment. Thank you all very much for caring and your hours of effort!!

27 03 2014

What a great bunch of people! I hope the little bit of rain we got yesterday is going to come your way and drop more. (fingers crossed)

27 03 2014
Puller Lanigan


27 03 2014
Lynn and Kathy

A most sincere THANKS!!! You’ve done something wonderful!! You should be very proud of yourselves! Please don’t ever forget the importance of all your efforts here – we won’t! 🙂

28 03 2014
George W Doerre

Beautiful photos of beautiful people. You (and the horses) have the most wonderful of friends. God bless you and all. …………George W Doerre

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: