It takes a village … to manage a mustang herd. And for Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs, our village includes Mike Jensen, Garth Nelson and Justin Hunt with BLM’s Tres Rios Field Office.
We are so grateful to have an excellent partnership with BLM and Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners (which includes the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association, Four Corners Back Country Horsemen and Mesa Verde Back Country Horsemen), as well as unaffiliated advocates who simply love the mustangs. We do a lot of small projects for the horses – water enhancement, fence repair and rebuilding, trash pickup, etc. – and now and then, we do something big.
Last weekend, we did something big that, as NMA/CO president David Temple noted, was about 20 years in the making.
Spring Creek Basin has a water catchment. Actually, we have two – and the second one is the subject of this post. But let me explain the first catchment first: Twenty or so years ago, NMA/CO and then-Spring Creek Basin herd manager Wayne Werkmeister partnered to install a couple of water-storage tanks that were provided by an oil-and-gas company. At the catchment in the main area of Spring Creek Basin, volunteers and BLM also installed two heavy-plastic “aprons,” laid out on a slope to catch rain and snow and funnel it to the tank, and from there to a float-controlled trough from which the horses can drink. That catchment system (aprons to tank to trough) provides the horses’ only clean water in the basin.
The second catchment consisted of a water-storage tank and a big tractor tire-as-trough (bentonite was mixed with the soil at the bottom to keep water in the tire). Water had to come from a truck delivery – or not at all. And it hadn’t come for all the years I’ve been involved.
Our existing catchment has been hugely beneficial to the horses; now our second catchment has its own apron to deliver water to the tank and from there to a new trough. NMA/CO purchased the supplies, including the apron and pipe, and BLM purchased the new trough. Labor during the weekend project was provided by BLM range staff, Wild Bunch volunteers and unaffiliated advocates.
Read on for pix from the first day of our big weekend of work, and please join me in sending huge thanks to our BLM range staff and our volunteers – all of whom are working together for the benefit of our beloved mustangs of Spring Creek Basin!
When you grow up in Texas, you grow up with these words: “Don’t put your hands where you can’t see them.” That translates to “watch out for snakes in rocks.” Mike found a snake while we were collecting these rocks to eventually place on top of the apron; fortunately, a red-tailed hawk already had gotten to it.
Some people – David – show off a little when you point a camera in their direction. 🙂 All that pipe would eventually go in the ground to carry water from the apron downhill to the tank.
The rolled-up apron, custom made in Mancos, Colo., weighs 1,000 pounds.
We can’t start work without the obligatory safety talk. David Temple, left, talks to Garth Nelson, Pat Amthor, Justin Hunt, Mike Jensen and Frank Amthor.
Who says safety talks can’t be fun? (Note Temple Butte in the background.)
It wasn’t all sitting around watching David move dirt with his awesome little Bobcat. On day 2, we did a lot of shovel work and pipe-fitting and more shovel work, and remember that 1,000-pound apron? We spread it out and (wo)manhandled it into position.
David takes a drink-n-snack break from dirt work to discuss the site layout with Mike.
Well, hello, awesome BLM’ers and volunteers! From left, Justin Hunt (BLM range tech), Frank and Pat Amthor (4CBCH), Garth Nelson (BLM range specialist) and advocate Kat Wilder. Note that they’re sitting on the rolled-up apron – the foundation of the whole fabulous project.
Huge, huge, HUGE thanks to all of you!
Day 2 pix and report to come as soon as I can get through the photos!