Alternatively …

31 03 2016

Once upon a time in a place far, far away from civilization – better known as Spring Creek Basin – it snowed during alternative spring break. And then we had many, many years of pretty excellent weather, during which we completed many projects for the benefit of our mustangs that call this faraway place their home on the range.

Brumley Point forms part of Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

Tuesday would have been the first day of the annual two-day work project for alternative-spring-break partiers in Spring Creek Basin. However, Ma Nature had other plans, and she sent howling winds and blowing snow to this southwestern corner of Colorado.

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Yesterday was the second day of our Spring Creek Basin project. Despite a light skiff of snow on the ground in the morning, we got a fairly decent start, and students carried several loads of materials and tools to the work site – which now is about mile from the road up the southeastern fence line.

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BLM range tech Justin Hunt gives a safety talk before Mizzou students carry tools and supplies to the work site.

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University of Missouri students pick up materials to carry to the work site from BLM range specialist Garth Nelson.

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Libby and Nina carry staves up the big hill.

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Nina (left) walks back to the truck for more supplies while SJMA’s Kathe Hayes leads Jenna and Bailey to the work site  with a second load of tools. SJMA’s MK Gunn is at far right.

And then it snowed again.

At first, they were lovely little flakes floating on the breeze.

Then those flakes got bigger and heavier, and they started sticking to the ground, and the dirt started getting damp and started sticking to the bottoms of our hiking boots.

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Mizzou’s Chalen helps Southwest Conservation Corps-BLM GIS intern Josh Ryan carry wire to the work site along Spring Creek Basin’s southeastern boundary during alternative spring break. BLM’s Sean Waggoner follows with the chainsaw and T-posts.

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University of Missouri students Luke and Jessica carry staves about a mile to the work site while snowflakes start to fall.

About noon, we made the decision to call it a day. By the time we got back to the road, the snow had stopped … but the next wave was on its way.

Between the waves of snow, students carried armloads of T-posts and staves, buckets of tools and handfuls of tools, stretched a string to straighten the next section of fence, built an H-brace, pounded T-posts and cut wood away from the path of the new fence line (actually done by our BLM range tech). A couple of them even got as far as dropping posts and staves along the line. But we didn’t have time to take down old wire and string and stretch new wire.

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Garth pounds a spike into a cross brace held by Chalen in the H-brace built before the snow really came down.

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Garth helps Chalen and Luke tighten the wire holding an H-brace together.

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Justin cuts a tree away from the fence. Sean and Mizzou’s Megan serve as safety spotters. We learned that while we can’t cut even dead trees to use as posts in McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area, we can use chainsaws to clear such trees from a fence line.

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Sean holds wire while Nina and Megan attach strands to a T-post when the snowfall got heavy.

We’ll continue this project on other (sunny) days. 🙂

We sincerely thank this year’s Mizzou crew for being hearty and willing to brave the elements to tackle this ongoing project! It was great to meet you all … and there’s always next year! We also thank SJMA’s Kathe Hayes for her ever-cheerful organizational skills and taking care of the students, as well as members of the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association and Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners (who represent NMA/CO, Four Corners Back Country Horsemen and Mesa Verde Back Country Horsemen) for helping with funding.

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University of Missouri students gather with BLM and SJMA employees in front of Temple Butte, just outside Spring Creek Basin in McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area, during alternative spring break. From left to right: Justin Hunt, Bailey, MK Gunn, Josh Ryan, Jenna, Nina, Jessica, Megan, Luke, Libby, Kathe Hayes, Garth Nelson, Chalen and Sean Waggoner.

 

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5 responses

31 03 2016
Pat Amthor

Thanks to Kathe again this year for the hard work setting the project up for the students.
Thanks to TJ for the pictures showing the work in force.
The students learn from this so much about how the weather of the West plays into what happens in a days work! Good for them.

31 03 2016
Puller

Thanks to the students for all the help in keeping Spring Creek horses safe!

31 03 2016
Sue Story

A day of thanks – for snow at Spring Creek Basin, the hard work of Mizzou’s young volunteers, and the benefits of both for our beloved mustangs!

31 03 2016
Sue Story

And TJ, I forgot an important element – your beautiful photos!

31 03 2016
Kathryn Wilder

Nice that all students and facilitators are shown and named, but you do also deserve a shout out for the work you do behind the camera–and on the ground and in your sleep–for “our” mustangs: THANK YOU, TJ!!!!!

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