On Saturday May 18, 2018 nine very hardy volunteers worked together for 4 hours to help improve the safety and visual experience of visitors to Arrastre Waterfall (the “Falls” as it is often affectionately called).
A sharp turn along Powerline Rd (JF3330) has not only become an eyesore, but also a safety issue. Recently the public land managers (Bureau of Land Management) placed a wire fence at the site to help deter continued vehicle use of the short cut. However, vehicle scars remained and the fence was cut.
Friends of Juniper Flats put together a project to help heal the scars and deter future vehicle use of the short cut. This is not the first time volunteers have worked on this corner (see our recent blog Safety, Habitat and Visual Resource Improvement Project ).
We used a combination of Horizontal and Vertical Mulching to complete the project.
This technique involves placing logs, dead sticks (and other plant materials), as well as stones on the ground to help prevent inadvertent vehicle use. This is a method often used when the site has not yet been “cleared” by an archaeologist. It is sometimes all that is needed to prevent further damage by vehicle use off the designated route. Often it is used in conjunction with Vertical Mulching.
This technique may only be used if the site has been visited and “cleared’ by the BLM archaeologist. It involves digging holes which may damage ancient artifacts hidden below the surface. Our site is one that had been previously “cleared” by the archaeologist prior to past restoration efforts.
The site was evaluated for compaction and potential for erosion. Where compaction had made the surface hard, volunteers first broke up the top soil as best they could. The top of the shortcut included some very hard, compacted soil. Volunteers used pics and shovels to dig as many holes as possible and pitted the hard ground with small indents. Then they planted interesting looking “dead stick bushes” in the holes. Fist-sized stones were added to help stabilize the dead stick bushes. These “sticks” were collected from nearby juniper bushes which were burned in the 1999 Willow Fire. Care was taken to collect no more than 30% of any one burned bush and to avoid disturbing burned bushes closest to the road.
Other volunteers were busy raking and shoveling sand which had eroded down slope onto the road. They re-created a small “berm” along the edge of the road and later added rocks to make the outline of the road more pronounced.
Still other volunteers worked on the slope which was generally softer sand. After raking out vehicle tracks, stick bushes were added to the slope and logs distributed in between. Lastly, a few volunteers roamed the steep hillsides collecting no more than 10% of branches from live bushes. These branches were added to some of the “stick bushes” and also made into smaller “bushes”. The cuttings are not expected to take root, but are used to help trap wind born seeds which may germinate after the rains. Erosion control methods included creating small, curved water-bars which we describe as “smiley faces”. These help to slow the flow of any rain water that does not immediately soak into the ground.
Before and After photos
The left photo above shows the fence on the top of the hill in the early morning. The photo on the right was taken later in the day and the “stick bushes” can be seen along the fence.
The photo on the left above shows vehicle tracks going up the hill around a half hidden boulder. The photo on the right shows small rocks on top of the small berm and the “stick bushes” which will help trap blowing seeds and help with erosion control.
Continued success of the project will depend mainly on the respect of vehicle riders. Will they choose to avoid the restored site and stay on the designated open route? Friends of Juniper Flats volunteer land stewards will monitor the site and report/repair any damage.
Friends of Juniper Flats will be planning other small restoration projects. If you would like to become part of our team of volunteers please use the comment box below.