Certain activities are inherently satisfying. Take, for example, building a good fence. Last week, in less than eight hours, staff and volunteers for the Nature Conservancy built a sturdy jack fence around Boulder Spring just below Horse Ridge in north Clark County, Idaho. The deteriorated cattle exclosure around this tiny little spring was falling down and heavy sharp hooves were causing damage to the spring and surrounding vegetation. While tiny, the spring is important to the local wildlife as it’s the only water for miles in most directions. A trickle through a small pipe feeds several watering troughs downhill, so there’s plenty of water for pronghorn and elk, as well as the cattle who spend part of the summer in the area.
|The vast beauty of the Boulder Spring area|
The US Forest Service, who manages the land where Boulder Spring is located, helped supply materials for the fence and even delivered them to this remote site. Staff and volunteers made quick work of the old fence, stacking the posts and poles nearby for disposal later. Then the assembly line was set up – one group assembled jacks and set them out, another moved posts and 21-foot rails into position before the work of assembling the fence got started. Posts and rails were cut to size and attached with 6 to 8 inch spikes.
|Work crew (L to R): Ron Laird, Ryan Laird, Danny Byrne, Ron Troy, Brian Morrison, Jordan Reeves|
Onlooking vesper sparrows hung out in the sagebrush and occasionally snuck in to grab one of the many insects in the wet areas around the spring. Meadowlarks called from surrounding rock outcroppings. The spring supports a beautiful little oasis in the midst of this dry sagebrush-steppe, adorned by tall, healthy sagebrush plants, blooming lupines and buckwheat, currants, and giant clumps of great basin wildrye. We didn’t see any of the larger four-legged occupants of the area as it was a hot day and we were a noisy group.
After we cleaned up our worksite, hot, dirty and tired, there was still that great feeling of a job completed.
|Boulder Spring guarded by its new exclosure|
Our hardworking Boulder Spring work crew involved TNC staff Ron Troy, Matthew Ward, Jordan Reeves, Marilynne Manguba; Washington and Lee University intern Brian Morrison; Crooked Creek Ranch Manager Ron Laird; Volunteers Ryan Laird and Danny Byrne. Photos ©Marilynne Manguba/TNC.