Partners for mustangs

3 10 2015

Wednesday, I partnered with folks from BLM, the Forest Service, San Juan Mountains Association and Southwest Conservation Corps to haul fence materials into Spring Creek Basin. Long-time readers of this blog are familiar with the outstanding alternative spring break program that brings a group of enthusiastic University of Missouri students to Southwest Colorado each year (look under the March links in the blog roll). In addition to working in Spring Creek Basin, students work on other areas of San Juan public lands for a week before heading back to class in Columbia, Mo. After four years, students have rebuilt quite a long stretch of our southeastern boundary fence – carrying materials in by manual labor because of its location in McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area (no motor vehicles allowed).

Now that we’re pretty far in, and a steep bit of shale hill is coming up (literally), SJMA’s Kathe Hayes and BLM’s range specialist/herd manager Mike Jensen got the attention of the SCC (based in Durango) to give us a hand. While we want to give the Mizzou students a spring break they won’t soon forget, we don’t want to get too crazy. 🙂 Next spring, they’ll continue to rebuild fence from where the last group left off this past spring toward the base of the hill. This fall, the SCC crew will leapfrog where this spring’s students finished to start rebuilding a section from close to the base of the hill UP the hill.

To ease the workload of both crews, our little group hauled fence supplies this week: wooden posts (for H-braces), T-posts (to replace worn/bent/warped ones), lots and lots of staves (to stabilize the wires between T-posts), and rolls of smooth-twisted and barbed wire (to create wild-horse/life-friendly fencing that cattle won’t want to mess with from the outside) – to a site convenient for both the SCC crew this fall and Mizzou students in the spring.

Many, many thanks to BLM’s Mike Jensen, Justin Hunt and Garth Nelson, SJMA’s Kathe Hayes, the Forest Service’s Harold Park, SCC’s Jordan and BLM/SCC’s Lauren for providing the human labor (including hours of scheduling and logistics!).

Huge, huge thanks to our four-legged crew: Traveler (who packed posts), Trapper (who packed staves and T-posts), Pinch (who packed wire and spikes and Lauren :)) and Zip (who packed staves), as well as Jammer (who packed Harold) and Sneakers (who packed Kathe). These seasoned Forest Service veterans made our job much easier – and they worked for apples!*

BLM range tech Justin Hunt leads Forest Service pack horse Trapper with a load of T-posts while Lauren leads Pinch toward the dropoff point along the southeastern boundary fence of Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area. A Southwest Conservation Corps crew will be in the basin in October to replace a steep section of the fence, which has been worked on for four years by University of Missouri students during alternative spring break.

Here’s a teaser pic of Justin leading Trapper after Lauren and Pinch on the way to the cache site, following Kathe and Harold, who led the other two pack horses. For more pix of a great day of work that benefits Spring Creek Basin’s beloved mustangs, check out SJMA’s photostream on Flicker.

* Jammer and Pinch are Harold’s personal horses, and Sneakers belongs to Kathe.



2 responses

3 10 2015

Great photos TJ! Thanks so much for sharing. What a productive day and at least you had nice weather.

3 10 2015
George W Doerre

The horses, and you, have some wonderful, giving, friends.
Bless you all. gwd

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