Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Hooray for Flat Ranch Volunteers

A fun way to help the wildlife and nature of your local area is to volunteer at your local nature preserve. There are lists upon lists of projects to be completed every year, and many call for more hands than we have on our staff. These volunteer days are fun ways to give your time and lend a helping hand to Mother Nature. This summer at the Flat Ranch we had two such volunteer opportunities.

The week of August 18 we built just over a kilometer of four-strand, wildlife-friendly fence. The trick to making a wildlife-friendly fence is making sure the bottom strand of wire is high enough that antelope can run under it without stopping, and the top strand of wire is low enough that larger mammals like elk can jump over it without stopping. The fence posts must also be set a certain distance apart to ensure room for wildlife crossing. Let-own fences are constructed with “runners” and “dancers”. The runners used on the Flat Ranch are 6-7” 8 foot long fence posts spaced 16 feet apart. The dancers are 4-5” 5 foot long posts that are held against each runner with wire. The barbed wire is stapled onto the dancers, and the dancers are laid down every winter when the cattle are not on the ranch. Constructing a fence with this many posts, staples, and exact specifications is no easy task for The Nature Conservancy’s work force. This new fence would not have been possible without the help of our volunteers who worked countless hours in less than perfect conditions to help us build it.

On October 23 we had our second volunteer day at the Flat Ranch. On this day we planted 200 5-gallon willows. These willows were custom grown for the Ranch, and planted to continue our woody riparian vegetation restoration on the Henry’s Fork. This restoration work began as an effort to reduce sedimentation in the Henry’s Fork that was detrimental to the native fishery. With one skid-steer mounted auger, one two-man power auger, shovels, gloves, and a lot of determination, our volunteers closed the final chapter on the active vegetation work. Several of the willows were marked for survival studies that will help in future vegetation work on the ranch. The day went smoothly with all 200 willows in the ground in about 4 hours. It never would have been possible without the help of so many conservation minded people, and I would like to thank everyone who came out and pitched in. --Dava McCann, East Idaho land steward

Fencing Volunteers: Matt Frazier, Dannye Hanrahan, Dennis Hanrahan, Lee King, Phyllis King, Jerry Linderman, Marilynne Manguba, Anne Marie Emery Miller and Gretchen Vanek.

Willow Planting Volunteers: Jen Chutz, Jim DeRito, Sarah Grigg, Lee King, Anne Marie Emery Miller, Nancy Olson, Melanie Sessions, Bob Stantos, Steve Trafton, Ron Troy

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