Alternative spring break!

31 03 2017

Many hands DO make the work go faster, and with nine University of Missouri students, two San Juan Mountains Association people, four BLM’ers and yours truly, we had plenty of hands to make the most of one day on Spring Creek Basin’s southeastern fence line during alternative spring break.

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Speaking of hands, let’s start with feet (!). 🙂 After hiking to the fence line with the tools of our trade, all our shoes looked like this! (We did get some lovely rain!) Those hiking boots belong to Kathe Hayes, volunteer coordinator extraordinaire. She has been leading the students to projects on San Juan public lands (in partnership with BLM and the Forest Service) for nearly 20 years.

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Students got right to work removing old wire in the next section up the line. The H-brace in the background is where students stopped last year (we had SNOW last year). Here, Gabby,  Katy, Natalie and Angela receive guidance from Kathe (in purple jacket).

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Then, of course, we had rusty ol’ barbed wire to roll. Take a gander at Katy’s boots.

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Natalie rolls more old wire while students continue removing strands.

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Meanwhile, our herd manager, Mike Jensen …

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… and Garth Nelson, also a rangeland management specialist, tackled the new H-brace at the other end of our day’s fence section with Brian, Blake, Chris and Matthew. (I missed most of their building while helping the girls remove and roll the old wire.)

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The original fence line was a little cattywampus (!), so we had to do some straightening. The orange string indicates a straight line between last year’s H-brace and this year’s H-brace. Some T-posts had to be uprooted and repounded. One good thing about the mud: It was pretty easy to pull the T-posts out AND pound them back into the soft ground.

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The Mikes – Mike Schmidt, left, BLM wildlife biologist, and Mike Jensen, herd manager – unrolled new wire between the H-braces. You can see the first strand already in place and tightened.

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We did give students a few minutes to sit down and eat lunch. 🙂 Left to right: Natalie, Angela, Katy and Gabby.

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Then it was back to work. Blake and Chris start clipping wires to T-posts using metal “clips” made specifically for the task.

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Brian demonstrates good clip-attaching technique to Katy and Angela while Blake (behind him) also watches.

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Then Angela and Katy were pros!

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Chris and Natalie use one of the measuring sticks to ensure wildlife-friendly spacing of the wires before they clip them to the T-post.

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Gabby and Caitlin did their share of wire clipping.

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Brian holds the measuring stick while Jessica clips the wire. Jessica made her second trip in two years to Southwest Colorado for alternative spring break. This year, she’s the student leader.

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To end the day, Mike S. grabbed my camera to nail this shot of Brian and Matthew hoisting the old wire over the next stretch of old fence while Garth and I wired the gap after the new H-brace. You can see why we’re keen to replace this whole fence line for the security of our mustangs.

Then we trekked back through mud to the vehicles and well-deserved snacks, courtesy of Kathe.

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Thanks again to all of you wonderful Mizzou students and BLM’ers and SJMA’ers who worked hard to continue our tradition of keeping our mustangs safe and protected within Spring Creek Basin! We’re super appreciative of your efforts – all done with smiles and enthusiasm!

THANK YOU!

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One day = new fence

30 03 2017

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Ma Nature struck again this year and delivered rain on the first of our two-day alternative spring break project in Spring Creek Basin! So the above smiles are on day 2 … *after* walking (slogging) through messy, slippery mud to get to the fence line.

(But they carried just one roll of wire for supplies – the rest being tools – so we were also smiling about the mule-packed fence materials, which made our one day even easier!)

I ran out of time to get to pix for a full morning-after post, so you get just the one today … and hopefully a fuller post tomorrow. 🙂

Above, by the H-brace they built (!), the two girls seated are (left to right) Angela and Gabby. Beside/above them in front of the H-brace are Natalie, Katy and Chris. Behind the H-brace are Brian, Blake, Caitlin, Matthew (assistant to Kathe), Kathe Hayes (volunteer coordinator with San Juan Mountains Association), Jessica (student leader; this is her second trip to Southwest Colorado from Mizzou), Garth Nelson (BLM range specialist) and Mike Schmidt (BLM wildlife biologist). Not pictured but much appreciated are Mike Jensen (our awesome herd manager) and Keith Fox (BLM).

THANK YOU, Missourians! We decided that we rebuilt a quarter-mile of fence under excellent sunny skies across drying muddy ground. Definitely not muddy enough to dampen enthusiasm. You guys ROCKED the fence! Your work helps keep our mustangs safe and protected in Spring Creek Basin, and we are grateful to you all!





Soggy … wonderful

29 03 2017

Winona and Mariah; La Sal Mountains.

It wasn’t at all soggy when this photo of Winona and Mariah was taken, last weekend, but it IS soggy now.

It was so soggy, and with more rain in Tuesday’s forecast, that the University of Missouri students – here again for alternative spring break! – canceled yesterday’s work in Spring Creek Basin. 🙂 But tomorrow calls for sunshine and high temps in the 50s, so we’re looking forward to meeting this year’s crop of hard-working students and getting some more fence work done!

We are VERY happy about the rain. It brings us to nearly an inch of moisture for the month of March. (Yikes. March is supposed to be the wettest month in Colorado.)





A glow

28 03 2017

Hayden, La Sal Mountains

Hayden spent most of our visit napping over a stud pile.

Dude, that’s not very photogenic.

Then he turned and looked at a nearby band as I was walking away. Thanks, pal. 🙂





Near side

27 03 2017

Killian

Handsome young stallion Killian had places to go down the hillside and across the arroyo and up the hillside on the far side. There was no stopping for the paparazzo!





Green, seen

26 03 2017

Eating grass.

That’s the good stuff.

Eating grass.

That’s the green stuff, about-to-be-gone stuff. 🙂





Snow scenes

25 03 2017

McKenna Peak

Did I mention that we got rain? Upper Disappointment Valley got some white stuff. 🙂 That’s McKenna Peak in the foreground.

Temple Butte

Iconic and locally relevant and important-to-us Temple Butte.

Brumley Point

Brumley Point.

Brumley Point and Temple Butte

A different perspective showing Brumley Point in the foreground and Temple Butte in the background. Brumley Point is mostly within Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area. Temple Butte is just outside the basin’s boundary.

McKenna Peak

Temple Butte and Brumley Point, along with McKenna Peak, are in McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area, which overlaps the eastern, southeastern and southern portions of Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area.

All three features are prominent from just about anywhere in Spring Creek Basin. The elder Mr. Brumley was a prominent member of the local community, and was a rancher and timber man; Pati and David Temple were and are prominently involved with advocating for Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs. I haven’t been able to learn anything about McKenna, but with a peak and a wilderness study area named after him, he (?) must also have made significant contributions to the region.

After the unseasonably warm, dry weather we’ve been having, it seems wild to see snow on the ridges, but the ground and vegetation needs it badly, and we’re immensely glad for the snow and the rain!