Crew 1 – BLM Newcastle, Wyoming, July 13 – 22 – Crew 1 began work by cutting juniper and cottonwood trees to ease the floodplain for the water near a cluster of ancient Native American pictographs. The crews also restored the native vegetation around the rock art as well cutting the grass. By far, the most exciting part of their hitch was being able to help Alice Tratebas (BLM Newcastle Archaeologist) by executing a professional archaeological dig site near and around the pictographs.
Education Day(s) – Throughout the 10 days of working, the crew learned the history of the art they were preserving, the need for its quiet preservation, and the greater purpose of their work. This was done with slide shows back at the office and on-site training concerning the accuracy and efficiency of dating methods and radiometric carbon 14 dating techniques. From the sound of it, this crew had an upper level archeology class and field course in just one hitch!
Day Off – This crew hiked Harney Peak, highest peak in South Dakota, located at Custer State Park. The peak is named after General William S. Harney, a commander during the Indian Wars of the late 19th century. Although this mountain is one of the more popular areas to hike, visitors might know that this peak holds as a sacred highpoint for the Sioux Lakota long before the peak was named for General Harney. Of course, our crew knew this as their main project of archaeology would insist. Our crew had a wonderful time finding the peak, some of our crew even hiked the mountain twice!
Crew 2 – Casper Mountain, Casper Rotary Park, Casper, WY, July 13-22 – This crew had a lot of work to do on the Bridle Trail to say the least. They conquered numerous erosion areas by building timber and stone stairs as well as retaining walls and water bars to control the runoff. Crew 2 learned the pain, patience, and reward of building with stone and timber making sure there are 3 points of contact for all the structural stones and timbers. We even worked on two concrete projects as well as re-treading some tough areas hit by storms. Thanks to this crew, the Bridle Trail is going to be around for generations to come.
This trail is a top candidate to be one of the coolest urban trails in the country. The trail weaves through waterfalls, rock formations, and platforms throughout the trail that safely hover over the steep grade of the trail for beautiful views of the prairie. Thanks to the dedicated work of Bill Schillings, President of the Wyoming Business Alliance and Executive Director of Leadership Wyoming, and all the Casper Rotarians for their attention to detail and commitment to Casper’s communities and Wyoming, we have this wonderful trail accessible. The WCC has worked on this trail for years now one hitch at a time in helping make this trail a jewel for the nation’s urban parks.
Education Day – For this education day, our crews were privileged to attend a Rotary Club meeting where they were introduced, fed, and given a sacred Rotary coin for their service. After the meeting, the teamed headed out the award-winning BLM National Historic Trails Interpretive Center where they learned more about the trails across the country that migrated and settled the West in the 1800s prior to wide access to trains.
Day Off – This crew always knows how to have fun! They floated parts of the North Platte River made possible by the remarkable Platte River Trails system offering hubs for trails and stations to use the FREE personal flotation devices (PFD) making the rapids and floating possible. After their float, the crew went to a coffee shop and the Recreation Center in Casper. They ended their day with a generous cook-out at Bill’s house.
Crew 3 – Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Lovell WY/Fort Smith MT, July 13-22 – Crew 3 is a park manager’s dream. As usual, this crew continues to accomplish an impressive array of work almost always finished with perfection before the deadline. In Bighorn Canyon NRA, this crew worked on projects including rebuilding two punch-in bridge, re-treaded miles of trails, built a trail weaving through a wetlands, and hand dug an old irrigation canal. Beyond their hard work on just their projects, our crew helped the Montana Conservation Corps in building and teaching timber steps and irrigation methods as well as leading a youth crew from the national Youth Conservation Corps program. I don’t know how they do it all, but they always do.
Education Day – This crew took a kayak tour of the canyon in the morning learning about the historic camps in the area and the Native American history of the area. Further, they geeked out on the rock formations and the geological history of the canyon. The education day was capped off by a lecture on the Sheepeater Tribe.
Day Off – Uncharacteristic of this crew, they actually relaxed on their day off by heading to Sheridan where they walked around, ate ice cream, had lunch and then headed off to the Battle of Little Bighorn historic site learning about “Custer’s Last Stand” while filing through the what is myth and what is fact.