Monday, July 09, 2007

On June 2nd, Friends of Nevada Wilderness organized a volunteer restoration project with the Ely Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service. The project involved restoring an old jeep route along the North Fork of Berry Creek in the High Schells Wilderness from a two-track down to a single tread trail. There were a total of 8 volunteers present with Friends of Nevada Wilderness and the Natural Resources Officer, Joshua Simpson, with the Forest Service.

The crew arrived to the site and decided which track to erase and which to keep as the hiking/horse trail, then set to work “pitting” the route (using pulaskis and pick mattocks) in order to decompact the soil to allow for seed collection and future growth of native plants. Dead and dying pine saplings (affected by beetle kill) were utilized for vertical mulching and to help delineate the trail. The volunteers also collected logs and branches to use for slash, and scattered it across the route to help disguise the scar and define the path. Using rock bars and manpower, the volunteers moved large rocks and boulders into the road to help block access by off-road vehicles while still allowing for hikers and horse travel. A couple of water bars were also built in order to guide runoff off of the trail and prevent erosion.

Along with rehabbing the two-track to a single tread path, the crew also hauled out two abandoned rusty culverts that had been sitting in Berry Creek for years. The first culvert was about 5 feet long, and the volunteers were able to remove it by clearing the debris out from inside it and simply lifting it out. The second culvert was about 15 feet long, and after assessing the situation, the volunteers figured out a way to haul it out using rope and branches to help as a ramp.

After successfully finishing the restoration work, the group also removed two unnecessary fire pits near the trailhead and located too close to the stream by dispersing the rings and removing the ashes and trash. They naturalized the area using surrounding plant materials so that it will recover and revegetate.

After a long day’s work, the volunteers enjoyed dinner provided by Friends of Nevada Wilderness back at the campsite and relaxed while taking in the scenic views of the newly designated High Schells Wilderness. The next morning the group went for a hike along the South Fork of Berry Creek, which leads through a beautiful aspen grove and up to another site where Friends will establish a trailhead in place of a two-track next weekend. The volunteers enjoyed the chance to get out and enjoy this new Wilderness on a beautiful day in eastern Nevada while also working to restore the natural character of the land.

*There were a total of 128 volunteer hours recorded for this project.
*There was a total of $1,920.00 saved through the use of volunteers that the U.S. Forest Service would otherwise have had to spend on in-kind labor. (Based on government protocol $15.00/hr)

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