Wild50 2014 Crew
For hitch 5 the WildCorps crew returned to the vast and beautiful Big Morongo Canyon Nature Preserve, one of the crew’s first (and favorite) worksites, to continue conservation efforts on the preserve’s many diverse trails. Upon arrival the team was immediately struck by how the place had changed since they last visited in February. The cottonwood trees were in full bloom, new species of birds had migrated to the area for the season, and the whole place felt lush and alive. Spring had certainly arrived at the desert oasis that is Big Morongo.
To the surprise and pleasure of the team, the trail work from their previous hitch had resulted in significantly positive changes to the aesthetics and accessibility of the area. The crew picked up where they left off, building structures to prevent erosion, clearing brush and even painting a bench that was constructed during the last hitch. Overall, the crew managed to maintain all five of the preserve’s trails, covering nearly 2.5 miles of trail.
For the second half of the hitch, the crew moved to the Bighorn Mountain Wilderness area to conduct wilderness monitoring using GPS data. Located in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, this wilderness area is a transition zone between the desert and mountain environments. The area was characterized by a unique combination of Joshua trees, pinion pines, and juniper spread amongst huge granite boulders. Spring had arrived at Bighorn too, as the landscape was covered in blooming wildflowers.
The crew’s primary objective was to document and repair any OHV incursions into the wilderness boundaries. To locate these incursions, the crew hiked and drove several miles every day to various coordinates that had been observed through GIS mapping by Julie Ferris, the SCA intern working in the BLM office. When a specific incursion was discovered, the crew did everything they could to close illegal routes by doing restoration work and installing signs marking the wilderness boundaries. In total the crew monitored 22 sites and installed 17 boundary signs.
In addition to the variety of work projects, highlights of the hitch included a meditative moonlit hike, witnessing a lunar eclipse and having access to warm showers at Big Morongo! The crew would like to thank to Dee Zeller and Bob at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve for all of their support. A big thank you as always to Mr. Greg Hill over at the BLM for making this hitch sucessful. The crew would also like to give a huge thank you to Julie Ferris at the BLM office for coordinating our monitoring project and to Natalie Siddique, our intrepid volunteer who worked just as hard (if not harder) than the whole crew!
Until next time!