Water catchment: phase 1, day 1

31 05 2021

First, let me refresh your collective memories:

Last year, Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area herd manager (and all-around great guy) Mike Jensen put the finishing touches on the new, updated herd management area plan (updated from 1994!) that he worked on for two years. If you follow that time-machine link back to July 2020, you’ll see that Tres Rios Field Office Manager Connie Clementson’s decision included eight items. No. 8 was to authorize “additional new water developments for improving wild horse distribution across the HMA.”

We had hoped to start the first catchment last fall, but Mother Nature had other ideas for the week Mike had rented the machine to do the digging. And as winter approached, the project got pushed to this spring.

Fast forward to this spring (which was two weeks ago!), our BLM dream-range-team of Mike, Garth Nelson (also a rangeland management specialist), Daniel Chavez (range tech) and seasonal weed sprayer Jim Cisco broke ground on phase 1 of the first of two new water catchments in Spring Creek Basin.

This week on the blog will be devoted to the progression of the project. So today’s photos depict that Monday’s work; Tuesday’s post will depict that Tuesday’s work, etc.

On to the dirt work!

Daniel, the youngest of our range team, ran the mini excavator to dig holes for four 3,500-gallon poly (heavy plastic) water tanks while Mike and Garth used an augur to drill holes for the support posts for the roof system that will go over the tanks to catch rainwater and snow.

While the digging was under way, Jim readied the laser level in order to ensure the holes are all at the same depth. Then he used it to measure the run down to the eventual location of the water trough. That laser level got a workout (as did Jim) during the week. Garth would give Daniel breaks from running the mini-ex. Like Daniel said, it was a bit dizzying to scoop (to dig) and swing (to deposit). Here’s a sad thing: They dug down about 4 feet to bury the tanks about halfway, and the dirt is dry, dry, dry, all the way down.

Here’s a closeup of Garth and Mike using an augur to drill holes for the support posts for the roof over the tanks.

As it turned out, they decided on different locations for the posts to stand, but these first holes gave us the straight line on which to align the tank holes. Another sad note: Garth later used a post-hole digger to clean out the holes … and the dirt was SO dry, it all just slid right out of the digger’s “jaws.” (Also of note, of all tools in existence, I despise post-hole diggers the most!)

Did I mention the laser level? They used it to ensure that all the tanks were buried to the same depth and were level, and they also had to make sure there was enough “drop” down the slope (which doesn’t look like much of a slope, does it?) so gravity will do the work of allowing water to flow from the tanks (even when the water level is low) to the trough. As with our other two troughs, there will be a float to keep the water level constant. And the guys also will add an evaporation cover. In the pic is Jim, master of the laser level.

Zoom in on this pic. See Mike? See Mike smiling? He’s measuring out the distance from the tanks to the trough location. Mike is always smiling! πŸ™‚

Mark it! This will be the basic location of the trough, and this perspective is looking back up toward the tanks. You can see the first one that we delivered on the flatbed trailer behind it. Also, see the white thing behind the truck cab? That’s a 200-gallon water tank (the truck is Jim’s weed-spraying rig), and the guys filled it with water each day before they left Dolores, and each day, we emptied it to one of the aprons at the main (and original) catchment, for a total of 800 gallons! (Friday, Ma Nature graced us with rain, so there was no work that day, and she provided the water!)

Tomorrow: A bit more digging, a bit more leveling, and the holes will be ready for the tanks!


Also today, Memorial Day, we remember all those members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died in service to their country. Though they did not make it home to family and loved ones, their service and sacrifice cannot be forgotten by those of us *at* home, for whom they fought and died.



10 responses

31 05 2021
Maggie Frazier

As I have commented before – this particular BLM “team” deserves every bit of credit possible! Sadly, the normal view the public gets is NOT this kind of dedication to the Wild Horses. We need many many more like this!

1 06 2021

This is why I try to highlight our BLM guys as much as possible. We’re very grateful to have such a GOOD partnership for our mustangs!

31 05 2021

Thank you, thank BLM Team for hard work!

1 06 2021

You know firsthand how great our BLM’ers are! πŸ™‚ For other readers, Pat and Frank were hands-on with our last catchment project, which we all remember with nostalgia (and a dose of heat-stroke memory!). πŸ™‚

31 05 2021

I have often said, I wish we could clone the SCB BLM team. I was so disappointed to read in so many EAs of broken, damaged and non-working water providers with no plans for replacing or repairing them. TJ, your team ROCKS!!! And all wild horses need advocates like you to work with BLM.

1 06 2021

Our team DOES rock!!! πŸ™‚ They’re really great guys who care about the land and its resources and animals.

31 05 2021

You’re always gettin’ er done out there TJ!
With a willing and able crew, BLM dream team
(whoever heard of such a thing??!!) 😁
All I can say is congrats big time.
Yay for the rain you got.
And oh, in frame 3 Mike is not smiling 🀣

1 06 2021

Ha – have you seen the size of that augur?! He was smiling afterward! πŸ™‚

31 05 2021

Impressive team and work they’re doing for our mustangs!! GO TEAM πŸ‘ πŸ˜πŸ‘

Sent from my iPhone


1 06 2021

We’re proud to call them ours. πŸ™‚

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