Project Leader Name: Megan Petermann Project Dates: June 4, 2010 - Nov. 21, 2010 Email Address: email@example.com
Hitch Leader: Erik Schmahl
Hitch #10 was the Wild Corps second and final hitch working in northwest Nevada’s Wilderness Study Areas with the Surprise Valley BLM office. This hitch had a dynamic schedule and the crew completed a variety of tasks and was fortunate to work with some new faces from the agency. Overall, the work was satisfying and the multitude of projects helped break up the sometimes monotonous nature of desert restoration.
We met with our BLM contact, Kathryn Dyer, to discuss the hitch and formulate a schedule. As hitch leader, I allocated duties and oversaw the organization of materials we would need to bring into the field. Emily and Chris worked on a menu for the ten day hitch and packed the necessary food and produce. Dave and Leah organized the tools we would need to complete our projects and made sure that all of our base camp group gear was in order. Once all the food, gear, and personal gear was loaded into the rigs we made the drive north to Wall Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA). Kathryn gave the crew an educational lecture on the Aspen ecosystems that are found in and around Wall Canyon, and we proceeded to set up our base camp in the thick of an aspen grove.
We set off early for a day of road closures and desert restoration. We restored site #6; installed 1 carsonite sign, de-compacted and vertical mulched 160 feet of illegal road. We also restored site #8; installed 1 carsonite sign, de-compacted and vertical mulched 203 feet of illegal road. We spent the remainder of the afternoon scouting illegal routes that were shown on our map, but fortunately the passage of time since the map had been created was enough to restore the roads naturally, for we found no sight of them.
Days 3 and 4
We met up with the Seeds of Success Intern, Chris, and headed to a northern section of Wall Canyon WSA to check on some seed and learn a little bit more about the botany of the area. We then split the crew in two; half of us went with Chris to collect geographical data on some of the unmapped fence lines using a Trimble GPS unit, while the other half of the crew manually disassembled and removed an unmaintained barbed wire fence on a recently acquired BLM parcel. On day 4 we switched tasks and mapped more fences and removed another unmaintained barbed wire holding pen.
We packed up base camp in the morning in preparation to move to the southern end of Wall Canyon WSA. Along the way south we worked on more road closure projects. We restored site #9; installed 1 carsonite sign, de-compacted and vertical mulched 40 feet of illegal road. We restored site #6; installed 1 carsonite sign, de-compacted and vertical mulched 600 feet of illegal road. We set up base camp in the evening at a site near a creek.
We packed up base camp and then closed three road stems measuring 20ft each (sites #2, #3, and #4) using vertical and horizontal mulch as well as “iceberged” rocks to prevent OHV traffic. In the afternoon we drove back to Cedarville, Ca and spent the night in the BLM fire barracks so that we could meet up with Kathryn early in the morning.
In the morning we left the BLM office with Kathryn and the BLM Surprise wildlife specialist, Eli Flores, and headed to Massacre WSA. We spent the day with Kathryn and Eli learning about riparian ecosystems in the Great Basin. They walked us through a part of their management process known as Riparian Functional Analysis, were the agency assesses the vitality and sustainability of its riparian areas labeling them as “functional” or “at risk”. These RFA’s help the agency better manage these riparian areas. This educational day was productive and the crew learned about not only the ecosystems in which we work, but also how the agency works in these areas. Later we split up with Kathryn and Eli and made our way towards Bitner Ranch to set up base camp.
After a cold night (my water bottle was frozen solid in my tent when I woke up), we headed out for another day of road restorations. We restored site #4; installed 1 carsonite sign, de-compacted and vertical mulched 283 feet of illegal road. The terrain and spacing between sites made for a day spent mostly in the trucks. After discovering that the construction of an enormous pipeline outside the WSA had blocked the majority of our access roads, we restored site #2 (the only site we could gain access to); installed 1 carsonite sign, de-compacted and vertical mulched 240 feet of illegal road. We headed back to base camp and prepared for another cold night (potentially our last night in the field for the season).
We packed up base camp and drove back to Cedarville in order to meet up with Kathryn and Bob Wick from the state office. Bob has been with the BLM for quite a while and is very knowledgeable in all facets of the agency, as well as being the primary photographer featured in most of the BLM’s posters and postcards. Bob and Kathryn gave us a lecture on wilderness and the BLM’s stance as a management agency. We discussed the politics of wilderness as well as the history of the agency. It was a great opportunity to pick their brains on any subject regarding the agency with which we had been working for the last five months. Later that evening we had a cookout at Kathryn’s house and had an opportunity to socialize with our BLM contacts outside of work, it was a very nice gesture and everyone ate themselves sick - a nice ending to a very informative and fun day.
We woke up early and went through the usual post-hitch routine. We cleaned and performed preventative maintenance on the tools and group gear, as well as inventoried our remaining food and made a shopping list for next hitch. As project leader, I completed the post-hitch summary and service log as well as the post hitch report. We also washed and detailed the BLM rigs which we had dirtied over the course of the last ten days of off-road driving. Crew members logged their hours and organized their personal gear before calling it quits for the day, for the hitch, and for Surprise Valley.