Project Leader: Scott Nordquist Project Dates: August 8, 2010 - May 17, 2011 E-mail address: email@example.com
Before taking off on our first hitch, all four crews of the Ridgecrest’s Desert Restoration Corps went to the Local Bureau of Land Management to learn more about our public lands. After filling our bellies with grilled delights, we headed out to Indian Wells Canyon and set up what would be our base camp for the next 8 days. Everybody quickly huddled into our big circus tent, "The Green Monster", while storm clouds gathered overhead and the wind whipped off the Eastern Sierra. The high desert reminded us of its unpredictability with a late night rainstorm and near freezing temperatures.
Thorough helpings of hot drinks, grits and calisthenics helped warm us into our first work day. Just as we began to thaw, we were greeted by Marty, the BLM's Wilderness Coordinator, who dropped by to give us an overview of our first work project. A late summer wildfire caused severe damage to the upper sections of Indian Wells Canyon, charring Joshua tree forests and the main riparian corridor. Additionally, the burn exposed a vulnerable swath of wilderness near the Owens Peak Trailhead. We set out to redefine a new parking area adjacent to the trailhead in an effort to clearly delineate the legal road and thereby encourage vegetation recovery.
Our first work day found us bracing the power auger against 60 mph gusts sweeping off of the mountain-tops. Looking beyond the trailhead, we could just make out the first dusting of snow a few hundred meters above us. Clouds crashed across the jagged peaks as we excitedly began our work moving hard barriers. The wind blew hard hats off heads and bounced them hundreds of yards down canyon. When Jon got a bruise from a flying hard hat, we began to question if they were a safety precaution or a hazard! We headed back to camp feeling sore in muscles we didn't know existed. Although training was a blast, everyone agreed on how great it was to finally be out in the field and feel exhausted from a good day's labor.
The following day we headed down the canyon to work on a restoration site near Power’s Well. We took on a monster of an incursion with a direct line of sight of over 180 meters. The weather was more cooperative as we began gathering dead plants to form into bouquets. Strategically placing this “vertical mulch” on and around the incursion makes the illegal vehicle route disappear.
We knew we were doing quality work when visitors pulled up and couldn’t see the route we were working on. It’s the complete opposite of most jobs; when we do our work well, nobody notices. After four days of restoration we were able to share the satisfaction of stepping back and admiring our invisible piece of art.
On our last work day we hauled 35 more bollards back up to the trailhead to continue our first project. The technical skill involved in chiseling H-braces proved to be a popular counterpart to the aesthetic skills involved in traditional restoration. We made a ton of progress in the two days we spent up at the trailhead, and we’re excited to get back up there next hitch and finish the project!
Hitch Totals Dates:10/28/2010-11/05/2010 Hitch #:1 Hitch Leader: Scott
Restoration Work Log
# of Incursions - 1
Line of Sight (m) 182
Linear Meters Restored 237
Area Restored 474
# Dead Plants 213
# Seed Pits 193
Hard Barriers 35