Hitch #11 – Alturas, Ca BLM Field Office
10/26/10 – 11/4/10
Hitch Leader: Chris Niebuhr
I can think of no better weather to work outside in than a clear, crisp autumn day. The chore of lacing work boots and walking out the door is made much easier on days like these. The WildCorps was fortunate enough to enjoy almost an entire hitch of these “perfect” days along with a tremendous view of the snow capped Warner Mountains of northern California. Hitch 11 provided us with a much appreciated escape from vertical mulching as well as the chance to blow the dust off of the crosscut saw that has been hanging on its hook in the trailer since we left the King Range. Due to a miscommunication, an area of a WSA in the Alturas BLM district was clear cut about 4 years ago of the junipers that have slowly encroached throughout the years. The area contains a spring ideal for wildlife, which has been enclosed by a fence in hopes of protecting it from being trampled by grazing cattle. We were given the job of cleaning up the mess of dead and down trees that scattered the hillsides surrounding this water source. Any trees that were big enough to be used as firewood were stripped of their limbs and cut into manageable sections to be moved out by an inmate crew. This wood will be given to less fortunate families and those unable to harvest enough for themselves. The scrap wood covering the ground both inside and outside of the enclosure was consolidated into “slash piles” which will be burned this winter. In total, we stacked 119 piles with 70 inside the fence and 49 outside. We also made a total of 50 crosscuts over the course of 10 days. During his final field visit, Claude expressed his desire to have the obvious line between the cut and the uncut areas blurred by removing select trees. After some instruction and demonstration by PL Megan we were able to get some hands on experience felling trees with a crosscut. 8 trees were cut total. Also, after hearing Claude share his extensive knowledge on the history of northern California we were fortunate to drive back to Alturas after lunch on day 8 and explore the Modoc County History Museum. The conclusion of Hitch 11 marks the beginning of the end for the WildCorps 2010 field season and although it may be bittersweet, we are grateful for the time spent working with Claude and the Alturas BLM field office.