Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Party on the Black Rock Playa

Friends of Nevada Wilderness hosted a sunset dinner party on the Black Rock Playa. Friends and 35 hearty souls from the South Reno Rotary Club enjoyed a few cocktails and a great outdoor barbeque complete with Chef Pat’s famous Dutch oven treats. We played golf and bocce ball and had many laughs. The wind howled a bit at first, but the winds calmed down in time for dinner and the Black Rock treated us to a beautiful sunset. All had a good time and a few went home with a newfound love for the Black Rock NCA. We thank the generous folks from the South Reno Rotary Club for joining us for dinner on the Playa, and thanks to our great volunteers and staff whose hard work made this event possible.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

High Schells Worthington Canyon

The High Schells. 121,000 of wilderness beginning at an elevation of 7,000 feet and ending with North Schell peak at 11,883 One of the largest wilderness areas managed by the Forest Service in this state.The largest Elk herd in the state roam in large and varied limestone encrusted bowls. Backcountry skiing in the winter, hunting in the fall, solitude abounds year-round. For us it was restoration work in Worthington Canyon, a drainage that had been blown out in only 2 days by a coursing creek in the winter of 2005.
Four volunteers, Josh the Forest Service Natural Resources Manager and I begin the trek up the canyon around 9 a.m. Sage is the dominant species and it is hot even at 7300 feet. We carry Pulaskis, Mattock, a shovel, digging bar and extra water. To the left as we wind up to the worksite is a trough of changing depths but at times is close to six-feet deep cut by rain and snow run-off. Nothing flows through it now but the power of the creek is obvious in the evidence it’s left behind. The hike takes us through Pinyon, Juniper, and little groups of healthy Aspen. We get to the site, a two-track that Josh wants to make a single-track to discourage mechanized travel in the wilderness area. We braid a path into the road by pitting the edges and planting native grasses along the side. There are many snags to throw along and narrow the path, along with rocks carried by hand as well as some we unlodged and rolled by bar and hand into the road. We work down a hundred feet. Josh, Ken and York spend some time making a rock bar to stem erosion. We pull more hefty snags onto the sides lengthwise along the road to mark the trail. Some parts need nothing at all and this helps keep the look of the trail primitive and unworked.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge - June 13th 2008

In co-operation with the Sierra Club Great Basin Group, Friends of Nevada Wilderness worked to remove unnecessary barbed wire fence southeast of Catnip reservoir in the Charles Sheldon National Wildlife refuge. There were twelve Friends of Nevada Wilderness volunteers and staff along with three U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees. This is an ongoing, annual project.

Most of the volunteers arrived Friday evening. Brian Day, the Refuge manager met the group around 10:00 Saturday morning. The group drove to the worksite and arrived at approximately 10:30 and began to deconstruct a stretch of fence that had been the termination of last year’s project. The only tool used to any extent were fence pliers. Fish and Wildlife had a military surplus Unimog with winch attachment that they had used in the past to roll up the old barbed wire, but the vehicle blew a tire and the FWS employees did not have the proper tools to switch it out. We did not have an efficient way to get the old wire to the road so the volunteers left the wire where it had been rolled manually for later removal. The steel posts were pulled, stacked, and left in the field as well to be picked up at a later date.
We broke for lunch at the vehicles and elected to proceed to another site closer to Catnip reservoir. We arrived at the site and found it had been disassembled during a prior trip. By this time it was approximately 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the group decided to retire for the day rather than drive to another site. Work ended at 3:30.

The group ate a pot-luck dinner after the project ended. There were many wildflowers in bloom on the sagebrush steppes: Primrose, Larkspur, Bitterroot, various Parsleys, Prairie Smoke, Cushion Phlox and Basin Rayless Daisies among others were present.

*226 volunteer hours were recorded for this project.
*$3,390.00 was saved through the use of volunteers that the Fish and Wildlife Service would have otherwise had to spend on in-kind labor. (Based on government protocol $15.00/hr).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hunter Creek, Mt Rose Wilderness

Hunting the Musk Thistle

Eight volunteers from Friends of Nevada Wilderness teamed up with the US Forest Service on a weed removal service trip in the Hunter Creek Area of the Mt. Rose Wilderness. Our volunteers once again returned to Hunter Creek to remove the Musk Thistle; it seems the noxious weed is spreading into the Wilderness. Musk thistle is a biennial weed that reproduces only from seed. Musk Thistle is very aggressive and if left unchecked it crowds out the native species. We also spent a few moments kicking back in the shade of some big ponderosa pines and enjoyed the thunderous beauty of Hunter Creek Falls.