More mules

16 03 2017

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We do have water in the desert, in spite of our very dry late-winter conditions.

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The Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Regional Specialty Packstring is Glenn Ryan’s baby; he has been the head honcho and mule packer since 2004.

This link and this one to the crew will give you more information, and if you Google it, you’ll find all kinds of articles about the amazing work this outfit does throughout the West, including this one last fall in The Durango Herald.

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Katy Bartzokis is a permanent seasonal employee with BLM, based in and around the Steens Mountain Wilderness Area of Oregon. She’s the only BLM packer she or we know about. She’s definitely the best one we know. 🙂

If you’re packing in and out of wilderness areas, these are the folks, and these are the mules, you want on your trail (if you even have a trail; we flagged one through the greasewood and over and through and down into and up out of arroyos).

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Here’s the full string, led by Katy, who led three mules, and Glenn, who led the last two. Our BLM range tech Justin Hunt is visible at the back. This was shortly after we left the trailer – loading site – and you can see Disappointment Road in the background. The big Forest Service rig may have drawn a few curious glances from the few travelers who passed by during our work days. 🙂

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To highlight a couple of the mules, this is sweet Karla. Katy and Glenn had folded the now-empty “mantis” and bundled the ropes and then manti’d them and were tying them on Karla’s pack saddle for the trip back to the trailer (we’re at the drop site in this photo). A “manti” is what you or I would call a tarp or square of canvas. Packers like Glenn and Katy use them to wrap bundles of taped-together staves and T-posts. Very neat – and I don’t just mean “keen.” 🙂 Usually, the folded mantis went back in the emptied panniers (which carried wrapped wire rolls), but on this particular trip, we had just staves, which were packed and roped and tied like you see in the photos above. So even bundles of mantis and ropes were themselves manti’d and tied on for the return trip.

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And this is big Skid – the only mule with a forelock and one of only two boys (johns?) in the string. Sweet boy!

All the mules have their personalities, of course, and all marched right along – this was their first job out of winter pasture – to carry a LOT of pounds worth of fencing supplies into McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area to help with our fence-maintenance projects. We love them all. 🙂

Mucho big thanks again to Glenn and Katy, Joey, Karla, Lena, Roz and Skid, Karmel and Sly, for all your work and patience with us! We’re so incredibly grateful for your skilled, amazing work – here and elsewhere on America’s public lands!

Thank you also to our BLM range folks Mike Jensen, Justin Hunt and Garth Nelson; our Spring Creek Basin mustang herd management is so good thanks to you all. Thank you to BLM’s Mike Schmidt and Keith Fox, who took time away from their regular duties to help us one day. Thank you to SJMA’s volunteer coordinator Kathe Hayes, who keeps us rolling on these projects. And thank you to advocate and volunteer Kat Wilder, who does it all when it comes to working for mustangs. 🙂





Around the bend with mules

15 03 2017

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There are only so many hours in the day … and we made the most of an extra day to haul in more fence supplies with Glenn Ryan and Katy Bartzokis, Karmel and Sly, and Joey, Karla, Lena, Roz and Skid with the Rocky Mountain Regional Specialty Packstring! (We also had the help of BLM rangeland management specialist Garth Nelson and range tech Justin Hunt, and hardworking advocate Kat Wilder.)

Ya’ll get just one pic this morning because the hours of the day ran out on scheduling this blog post. But these folks not only are incredibly photogenic, they worked super hard to minimize our work later by hauling in loads and loads and loads of wooden posts, steel T-posts, wooden staves and smooth- and barbed-wire rolls, so you’ll see more photos soon.

For projects in the backcountry, going where ATVs fear to tread (and wilderness study area rules won’t allow ’em anyway (thank goodness)), MULE POWER ROCKS!

More pix to come. And another note to locals: Glenn and Katy – and the mules! – will be at the Ag Expo at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds this weekend. Check ’em out, shake their hands, admire the mules. They’re absolutely awesome, and we couldn’t be more grateful for this excellent partnership! 🙂





Mules helping mustangs, part 2

14 03 2017

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And who wouldn’t smile, to be on a good horse, packing good mules in Spring Creek Basin, Southwest Colorado, on a gorgeous spring day?!

Katy Bartzokis (above) and Glenn Ryan and their horses and mules were back to haul more fencing supplies into the basin for future work, and we had more help in the form of Mike Schmidt and Keith Fox, who came to help Kathe Hayes and Kat Wilder.

So many photo opportunities … so little time to actually peruse the images and select ones for publication! And we welcome Glenn and Katy, Sly and Karmel, and Joey, Karla, Lena, Roz and Skid back tomorrow for another few trips into the wilderness (McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area, that is). (So someone has to get to bed!)

Locals: Glenn (and Katy?) will be at the Ag Expo at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds this weekend with the mules and horses that made this project happen. If you go, please stop by and heap thanks upon them for helping our beloved Spring Creek Basin mustangs. Their work will enable us to rebuild fence sections without having to carry in hundreds of pounds (1,000 or more? we should add it all up!) of materials. Just one wooden post for an H-brace weighs 50-some pounds.

Many, many thanks!!

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Mules helping mustangs

13 03 2017

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Spring Creek Basin herd manager Mike Jensen leads Katy Bartzokis (BLM) and Glenn Ryan (Forest Service) and their mules to a drop site with fence materials for some upcoming projects – including alternative spring break!

We are so stoked to work with the Rocky Mountain Regional Specialty Packstring to get these supplies hauled into the basin by mule power!

This project is completely possible because of some big “horse” power, so BIG thanks to awesome mules Joey, Karla, Lena, Roz and Skid, and saddle horses Karmel and Sly. 🙂

And extended thanks to San Juan Mountains Association’s volunteer coordinator Kathe Hayes, who heads alternative spring break each year; Justin Hunt, BLM range tech; and tireless advocate Kat Wilder.

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Super close to a supermoon

11 11 2016

Moon rises over Temple Butte and Spring Creek Basin.

On Monday, November’s “beaver moon” – also a supermoon – will rise. The moon will be closer than any other lately (70 years, it says below) … and it won’t be this close to Earth again until 2034.

Here’s more information – “Why November’s Super-Close Supermoon is a Full Beaver Moon” (isn’t that an awesome headline?):

“November’s supermoon — the name given to a full moon that occurs when the satellite is at its closest point to Earth during the lunar orbit — will be the biggest supermoon in about 70 years.

“Algonquin Native American tribes as well as American colonists called the November full moon the Beaver Moon because ‘this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs,’ according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

“An alternative name for November’s full moon is the Frost Moon, which was also coined by Native Americans, according to the Almanac. [Supermoon November 2016: When, Where & How to See It]”

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Deep gratitude to active-duty service members and veterans of America’s military. We cannot repay our debt to your service and sacrifice, and that of your families as you spend time away from them to ensure the protection of ours – of all of us.





Partnering for mustangs

18 10 2016

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Yep, once again, volunteers showed up to support Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs! This is the apron project to provide a second source of clean water for our mustangs – now fenced to protect the apron from the horses walking on it. They’ve sure enough found the water in the trough below the tank, which is below this apron.

This crew has a lot to smile about because in just a few short hours, these awesome folks built a four-strand smooth-twisted-wire fence around the apron! Our BLM guys snuck out of the office last week and dug holes for almost all the heavy wooden posts – which serve as H-braces and the nifty new gate – and that was most of the hard work.

In the photo above, left to right: Laura and Bob Volger (Four Corners Back Country Horsemen), Kat Wilder, yours truly giving the thumbs’-up, Frank Amthor (4CBCH), Mike Jensen and Garth Nelson (range specialists; Mike is the herd manager), and Kat’s son Ken Lausten, fence-builder extraordinaire. Always-present Pat Amthor relieved me of my camera to take this pic of our hard-working crew. 🙂

Some more pix below before I got caught up in the efficient assembly line of pounding posts, wire stringing and stretching, and clipping wire strands to posts:

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Garth (left) and Frank work together to set the horizontal braces in the, you know, H-braces. Luckily for us, Garth and Mike Jensen already had done most of the hard work, digging holes and setting most of the wooden posts during a jail break, err, an escape from the office last week. In the background, Mike (left) and Bob Volger are digging a hole for another post to complete that H-brace.

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Here’s a closer look at Mike and Bob setting their post.

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As soon as Garth and Frank had finished this H-brace, Ken and Kat got right to work stringing wire. Mike’s running a T-post through the wire to unroll the next strand down to the next brace.

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Comin’ through! (The apron is to the left.)

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Ken stretches the end of the lower strand of wire, helped by his mom, Kat. At a diagonal, you can see the wire already tensioned into place by Mike and Garth. (That’s probably not really a word, but the diagonally-wrapped wire holds tension on the two vertical posts, so the one posts helps the other hold the horizontal wires stretched between H-braces.)

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And this is a good view of the apron, which we laid out in June – the object that we’re protecting from sharp mustang hooves. Why yes, it IS already working to funnel what little rainwater we’ve received down the newly laid pipe to the catchment tank AND to the trough, which is up-to-the brim full of water for the mustangs (held level by a float ball). 🙂

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Garth pounds a T-post between H-braces while (in the background) Bob and Frank dig a hole for another post to serve as an anchor in a slight depression between H-braces so it will hold the wire tight without pulling the T-posts out of the ground.

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Laura Volger (4CBCH) helps Mike hold a wire strand in place so he can staple it to the post. We set our wires at consistent heights all the way around.

And things continued in just such a manner until the apron was all fenced in and protected.

This was another fabulous project in Spring Creek Basin with BLM employees and volunteers, all working together for the benefit of our beloved mustangs!

Just in case you thought it was all work and no good food, Pat Amthor brought homemade apple cake made with home-grown (Durango area) apples. You better believe we all polished that off and sent Pat home with an empty cake pan! (Sorry – no pix. It went from pan to bellies too fast!)

Thank you, thank you, once again to our committed BLM range specialists and our dedicated volunteers. With your help, our Spring Creek Basin mustangs continue to thrive on their home range!





Golden faces

15 10 2016

Voodoo and Braley

A little girl and her daddy (maybe – same band, anyway). They kicked off a beautiful morning with a most excellent visit.