Dirt from the Field: February, 2011

January is gone!  I don’t know about you but it went by fast for me!  In my last post I talked about the need to add “brush revetment” to some of the newly constructed creek banks.  Brush revetment means that we take discarded Christmas trees that the city has collected and anchor them sideways along the bottom of the creek bank where it meets the creek bottom using earth anchors and 1/8” wire rope.  This is not easy work but we have some dedicated volunteers who worked very hard to get it done.  The earth anchors are pounded about two feet deep into the ground using steel rods and sledge hammers.  For each tree there is an anchor in the bank and one in the creek floor so they were swinging sledges while standing on a steep slope, or while standing in the frigid (snow melt) water of Granite Creek.  It’s heavy, awkward work but the completed job will give us creek banks that will be protected from the destructive force of high flows while giving the hundreds of willows that were planted on the banks this past December a chance to grow root systems that will take over the job of stabilizing the banks.  The Christmas trees will slowly decompose and disappear over the next several years.  We still have one area to go but we won’t be able to get it done until Granite Creek recedes later in the year.  If you’re interested in helping out, let me know by going on our web site or calling the office.

Another event that happened in January was the county-wide Martin Luther King Day of Service that was sponsored by VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America).  Every year on Martin Luther King’s birthday VISTA organizes several hundred volunteers to work on community service projects at various non-profit organizations.  Prescott Creeks was the beneficiary of a group who came out and cleared the Watson Woods entrance near the Peavine Trail of all the brushy material that grew so rampantly last summer.  It was difficult to even see the entrance or approach the information kiosk and interpretive signs.  Not any more though, I counted over twenty bags of brush that were taken out!  After the work was done, we took a hike in the woods and visited some of the restoration project sites so that the volunteers could get a better understanding of the whole project.  Another benefit of the day was that we all got to meet Kadence…you had to be there!

The ninth grade class from Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy, a charter high school here in Prescott, came out and took a tour of Watson Woods learning about restoration and ecology. They then spent the whole afternoon picking up trash.  We had tires, a water heater, parts from a car’s engine and non-descript metal debris along with an amazing number of bags full of trash come out of the woods.  Good job Northpoint!

Finally, Yavapai Exceptional Industries has started their weekly work day again after the holidays and the weather kept them (and me) indoors for the first part of January.  It’s good to have them back out in the woods.  They helped build some shelter for some of our excess materials in the woods and also moved some of the Christmas trees used in the revetment project.  They always work hard and we always laugh a lot.

Well, that’s it for January 2011.  I think February is going to be a busy month for field projects and I’m looking forward to telling you about it next month.


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