Restoration Work in Granite Mountains Wilderness

A crew from the Student Conservation Association WildCorps has been working on a variety of projects on lands managed by BLM-California. WildCorps is a partnership with the BLM, to train a cadre of youth leaders to enhance public lands.  The partnership provides on-the-ground WildCorps youth crews to address management concerns such as trail construction and maintenance, invasive weed eradication, restoration of degraded lands and reclamation of old roads, dump sites and mining scars on National Landscape Conservation System lands. (text continues below)

Two crew members shovel to begin work rehabilitating a degraded area in the Granite Mountain Wilderness.

Starting in King Range National Conservation Area, this WildCorps crew moved on to work in the Alturas and Bishop areas, at Piedras Blancas, and the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

The crew made a stop or a “hitch”, as they call their ten-day work period, at the new Granite Mountain Wilderness area managed by BLM-California’s Bishop Field Office.

The crew was working on wilderness restoration of old roads.  ”Restoration never happens quickly, but with an SCA crew of six people you sure can get a lot of work done,” said BLM Park Ranger Scott Justham, who organized the project.  Decompacting the old road bed, vertical mulching, live transplants, and some bitterbrush plants were all part of the restoration equation. The crew completed 16 restoration sites, with some sites over half a mile long.  (Site # 2 before and after shows a good photo of this.)

“The crew was amazing, Justham said.  “This was my first time working with an SCA crew like this, and I loved it.  The high level of professionalism, dedication, and just hard working made the crew a joy to work with.”

The Crew members are:  Erin Ross, Rose Buss, Kana Matsui, Jack Fahey, Will Reed, and crew leader Brendan Taylor. (more text below photos)

Crew members plant shrubs.

Justham said he wanted to make this a memorable “hitch” for the crew.  Bringing the crew donuts, fresh vegetables from his garden, and even some espresso brewed up on the old Coleman after lunch one day made the work a little more enjoyable.

“Working with and SCA crew should be more than just the physical labor the BLM wants to get done,” he said.  ”It’s about education, and having a good time doing it all.”  The crew was visited by other Bishop BLM personnel, including Anne Halford (botanist), Greg Haverstock (archeologist), Eric Keefer (law enforcement), Elysha Iversen (ORP, visiting from Grand Canyon National Park), and Brad Johnston-Cox (park ranger) all made guest appearances.  Greg Haverstock gave the crew a great educational talk about archeology in the area.

Many members of the crew are from the East coast and have enjoyed seeing California during their labors. With all this hard work you have to enjoy the area you area working in.  So on day 10 the crew climbed to the top of Granite Mountain (8,920 ft) to enjoy the view of the new wilderness area.

An obsolete road into the wilderness area before the crew rehabilitates it...

..and after

About the Granite Mountain Wilderness Area

March 30, 2009 was an historic day for wilderness in California. When the president signed the monumental Omnibus Public Lands Act, California achieved an additional 700,000 acres of wilderness, the largest addition since the California Desert Protection Act of 1994.

Granite Mountain Wilderness Area is 34,342-acres of this new addition.  A geologically varied landscape of open alluvial basins, basaltic plateaus and granite ridges, the Granite Mountain Wilderness is an excellent Great Basin addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Its sagebrush steppe habitat is currently underrepresented in the system.  The area is home to sage grouse, deer migration corridors, abundant raptor nesting sites and wild horses.  Numerous archeological sites are scattered throughout the pinyon-juniper woodland. Mono Lake Paiutes historically wintered here, on the east side of the lake, to escape the heavier snows nearer to the Sierra crest.

Crew members in dusty work clothes pose for a group photo.

- Scott Justham, park ranger, BLM-California Bishop Field Office, 10/09, BLM-California News.bytes, issue 406