First Five and Septoberfest were completed and we were ready to get started! We started off Hitch 1 with an orientation at the BLM, where Dana Jacobs, the BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner set up a morning with BLM employees. Each representative spoke on their respective roles and responsibilities. It was really beneficial to hear about all of the different concerns and areas of management that the BLM juggles. Following the orientation, we stuffed ourselves at the cookout! Thanks to everyone who put this all together!
The next day we cooked, packed up, and headed out to our new temporary home, the El Paso Wilderness! We were able to set up camp and settled in before the sunset. This first evening we were joined by our friends ,the Kiavah Crew. We enjoyed the evening together and headed out the next day for the Desert Tortoise Natural Area. Both of our crews joined the Desert Tortoise Committee along with about 15-20 other volunteers for a day of restoration. The organization is expanding its property to include a couple of parcels adjacent to their current property. All the volunteers were led by our SCA crews to close 2 main incursions crossing these new sections. Another small group of volunteers posted signs along the perimeters. We finished up all of our work in the late afternoon and then shared in a lovely cookout that the Desert Tortoise Committee provided. It was a great day! We had successful restoration and an opportunity to meet individuals from the area who have devoted so much time and energy into the preservation of the desert tortoise and their habitat. Though we didn’t come across any live tortoises, it was all still worth it! At the end of the day we bid farewell to our fellow crew members of Kiavah and head back to our basecamp.
The crew jumped into work projects in the El Paso’s the next day. We kicked things off with some effectiveness monitoring on sites that were originally restored by the 2009-2010 Golden Valley Crew. Some touch up restoration was needed on a few key sites and then we moved into more monitoring. All the restored sites on the southern boundary were effectively monitored and a good portion of the western boundary was completed. There were also a couple days spent on guzzler mointoring (water catchment installed to provide water for wildlife). Our crew trekked out to one of the guzzler sites and had a training session on data collection and guzzler monitoring. A few days later, two members attempted to monitor guzzler 141. However, this guzzler was nowhere to be found! It did lead them on quite the hiking adventure with some sweet ruins along the way. Don’t worry, we will find you guzzler 141!
Toward the end of the hitch we took an afternoon and checked out the Burro Schmidt tunnel for our environmental education presentation. It was a great way to learn about the history and culture of those who have lived in these mountains before us. Thirty two years of digging a tunnel takes a lot of dedication and a bit of insanity! Other highlights of the hitch included eating amazing meals- some that included ridiculous amounts of fennel (thanks CSA box!), speed rounds of monopoly, banana grams, tarantula sightings everywhere, and clear beautiful starry nights!
Thanks for a great first hitch everyone!