Hitch 4: 7/10/17 – 7/19/17
Crew 1: Red Desert: Wyoming Wilderness Association and Bureau of Land Management Rocksprings field office
Crew #1 set off for the Red Desert of south central Wyoming. This vast high altitude desert ecosystem and sagebrush steppe that make up nearly 10,000 acres. “Among the natural features in the Red Desert region are the Great Divide Basin, a unique endorheic drainage basin formed by a division in the Continental Divide, and the Killpecker Sand Dunes, the largest living dune system in the United States. In the 19th century, the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails tracked through the northern and western regions of the Red Desert after crossing the Continental Divide at South Pass.” (source: Wikipedia) The crew placed signs around the boundaries of the 7 Wilderness Study Areas that make up a large portion of the Red Desert. The goal of this project was to help the public understand where they are at while exploring this vast area.
Education Day – The crew explored the Honeycomb buttes with agency representatives and Red Desert experts. They learned the desert’s unique and rich history.
Day off – For their day off the crew drove to Lander to decompress a bit and clean up.
All Said and Done:
- 113 Wilderness Study Area boundary signs placed all across the Red Desert.
Crew 2:The Nature Conservancy – Sweetwater River Preserve.
Crew #2 traveled from Laramie early Monday morning to the Sweetwater River Preserve. “The Nature Conservancy’s Sweetwater River site contains significant natural habitat for plants and wildlife, as well as Native American cultural sites and portions of the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express historic trails. The project area includes 21 miles of the free-flowing Sweetwater River, one of Wyoming’s most extensive and intact high desert riparian areas. Along the river, dense stands of native willow provide cover for numerous mammals and birds. Dry grasslands populated with big sagebrush extend for miles upland of the river.” (More info here) The crew removed old fence that restricted the migration of wildlife through the ecosystem. Where fencing was necessary the crew installed wildlife friendly fencing that allows wildlife to move through the system with minimal impact. Once this work was compete the crews cut and planted willows and installed a wader station.
Education Day – The crew spent some time at the Red Canyon Ranch discussing with representatives of the Nature Conservancy what their role is in managing Wyoming’s natural and cultural resources.
Day off – This crew also went to Lander to enjoy a little relaxation.
All Said and Done:
- .63+ miles of fence removed
- 160 yards of wildlife friendly fence built
- Installed 3 water gates
- Built 5 H-Braces
- Helped construct a new outhouse
- Cut and Planted willows for 3 days.
Crew 3: National Park Service – Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Crew #3 made the long trip north to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area where they were charged with restoring campsites accessible on by boat. High water and the decision to raise the level of the Bighorn Canyon left that project partially under water, but Bighorn Canyon, being the incredible partners they are had back up projects ready that kept the crew busy. The crew worked with the YCC crew to restore Horseshoe Bend campsite, one of the most popular spots in the park. The crew also worked on a reroute on the Lower Layout Creek trail, and once done with that they performed trail maintenance on the Upper Layout Creek trail, a previous WCC project from 2014. The crew reported a handful of rattlesnakes and scorpions – for those recreating in the area keep an eye out.
Education Day – The crew was fortunate enough to tour the canyon on Kayaks provided by NPS. How lucky are they?!
Day off – The crew went into the Bighorn Mountains to Porcupine Falls and then had a meal at Bear Lodge.
All Said and Done:
- Constructed .25 miles of new trail
- Maintained 3.5 miles of trail
- 3 Days painting, noxious weed control, fence removal
- 60 picnic tables restored
- 60 campsites restored
- 25 trees low stumped
Crew 4: Devon Energy – Casper BLM – Muddy Mountain
Crew #4 joined the WCC and Devon Energy in celebrating the 10th year of our partnership. Throughout our work together Devon has provided direct financial support to the WCC that translates to high priority projects being completed each season across Wyoming. Furthermore, because of their unique funding, these projects are able to focus on project with high impacts and are not limited necessarily by agency budget. This has allows us to work on wildlife friendly fencing along North Americas longest mammal migration, remove encroaching conifers on prime sage grouse habitat, working to restore fisheries, and many other projects. The power of this partnership is seen in its positive impact to wildlife and wildlands in Wyoming. Thank you to Devon Energy for your incredibly generous and powerful partnership with the WCC.
This crew removed hazard trees from along a fence line to ensure that they fence remains intact for the foreseeable future. They removed trees to prepare for the bulk of their work, which was to build wildlife friendly fence around the Muddy Mountain Recreation Area.
Education Day – This crew’s education day was focused on “the life cycle of a well” meaning from permitting to reclamation this crew would see what Devon Energy does to be an effective company while maintaining their role as an incredible corporate steward for the land they utilize. This crew was joined by a representative from Senator John Barrasso’s office, several Devon employees from Wyoming and Oklahoma City, and BLM employees involved in the process. This allowed for a wide ranging an informative conversation to form.
Volunteer Day – The crew was joined by Devon Energy, BLM, and University of Wyoming Foundation employees to participate in a morning of volunteer work along the fence line at Muddy Mountain. This was a great time for crews to interact with folks who can provide solid career advice and help the crew prepare for their next steps.
Day off – The crew went to Alcova Reservoir to swim, tube, and enjoy the sun.
Things worth mentioning (per crew request) – This crew found a tiger salamander at 8500′ elevation, got free pie from their contact (thanks, Dustin), and built a hammock village.
All Said and Done:
- removed and replaced 1.5 miles of old fence. (Wildlife Friendly specs)
- repaired additional 3 miles of fence.
Wyoming Veterans Trail Crew : Buffalo Bill State Park, Medicine Lodge State Historic Site, Hotsprings State Park
The WyVTC traveled to Buffalo Bill State Park to do some trail work. From there they moved to Medicine Lodge State Historic Site, and then on to Hotsprings State Park to build trails and trail structures to enhance the long term sustainability of trails in these areas. Crews worked on Reroutes, switchbacks, erosion issues, water management, staircase construction, built retaining walls, and removed one hazard tree.
Education Day – This crew got to take their education day early in the hitch and do a self guided tour of Yellowstone before returning back to Buffalo Bill State Park.
Day off – This crew took their day off on the final day of the project to give themselves another day off. There day off was therefore spent traveling.
All Said and Done:
- 1 Cottonwood removed
- Reestablish Trout Creek trail (ADA) – 1 mile built/maintained
- Reroute and maintenance on interpretive trail – 1 mile built/maintained
- Establish trail in Medicine Lodge riparian area – 1 mile built/maintained
- 350 foot retaining wall built
- 75 ft. retaining wall built
- switchback built
- weed eating and maintenance on 2 miles of trail in Hotsprings SP
- 5 stair staircase built
- 35 stair staircase built
- 30 tractor loads of rock transported and put in place on ADA trail
- installed culvert for drainage control