Paiute Apartment Planting Gets Rolling

This week involved an ardent push on the Paiute apartments planting project. We planted five days out of our eight day week, which is much more planting than we have done in the past. We had the added benefit of lots of extra help. Danielle is back in action after being unable to do heavy work for several weeks due to a back injury. Jesse and Della, new restoration interns, were able to help us on several days, which allowed us to get much more planting done. With the additional help of two volunteer groups, we were able to plant, mulch, and cage two entire planting zones. Our first group was a crew of volunteers who came up for national public lands day. We had four volunteers from this group, and they proved to be excellent workers. We are really getting our planting demonstrations down, as they seemed to understand how to level out the planting area, plant, and build berms with little difficulty. The second volunteer day was an event entirely planned by our SCA crew, one that we have been planning for some time now. The idea was to have an opportunity for apartment residents to help plant in their own yards. In the morning only one volunteer came, Janice, a biologist in the wildlife department. She worked for the vegetation department ten years ago and it was interesting to talk to her about how the program has changed since then. We were worried that nobody else was going to come, but later in the afternoon three more cheerful volunteers came, ready to work. It was a good chance to connect with local residents—one man works at the Grand Canyon clinic, while the other two volunteers work at the Grand Canyon airport in Tusayan (a small town just south of the park). We planted lots of grass plugs, as recently we have been trying to get as many of these in the ground as possible to fill our massive quota of 15,000 plants. We are still far from that goal, but we feel confident that we will be able to get the apartments planted and looking much better than they did initially. Our first plantings from late July are already looking amazing—the globe mallow have tripled in size and are flowering brilliantly, and the grasses have exploded into mature plants that will soon send forth their progeny. Cliff spent the week as the designated Grand Canyon Visitor Center irrigation guy. He troubleshooted some of the irrigation systems, and hopefully fixed a major one that will save us many hours of hand watering.