Nicole Luna describes her final week of work with the BECY 2018 crew.
Five weeks in and BECY only gets better and hotter! I am so proud of the group’s work ethic, as each week passes we only get closer and more comfortable with one another. We even play jokes on each other, which makes the hard-hot sweating working days go by quick and filled with laughter. As the week begins we start by going to Ash Springs where we removed horehound a small, invasive herb that comes from a member of the mint family. After removing all the horehound, we placed a few native plants in moist areas for the following day.
Then we had our special visitor, Rebekah, a wildlife biologist who introduced herself and talked about the exciting things she gets to do in her job as we break for lunch. She had so many fascinating stories, specifically one that caught everyone’s attention was when she had the experience to hold a bear cup, where she and a crew went inside a cave and changed the monitor around the bear’s neck as they tranquilized it. Having Rebekah, a very outgoing person with very positive and energetic attitude made the group more interested in wildlife and open minded to the different things there is to do for wildlife and make an impact in the future. And as much as we enjoyed listening to her incredible stories we had to pause it for the next day as we headed back to work.
The entire group took turns watering the plants and as we waited for our turn we doubled checked for any horehound we might of missed. With a couple of minutes left on the clock we finished watering all the native plants for the third time and started gathering any tools we brought up and made our way back to the trucks. We finally arrived to the trucks and closed the working day with our usual debrief, where we all shared a rose, bud, and a thorn. For the rest of the evening we just marinated and prepared ourselves for tomorrow.
Tuesday’s chilly morning arrived and one by one we woke up to the sound of our alarms to a very beautiful mountain view at Southwestern Research Station (SWRS). We prepared ourselves and packed all our camping gear to head out to Ash Spring. We had no idea what was waiting for us at Ash Spring but when we arrived we saw the most flawless person I know, which most of the group was looking forward to meet, Caleb aka hippie Jesus. But little did we know we had something bigger waiting for us. As we gathered in a circle, BOOM, there they were sitting behind hippie Jesus truck, more native plants. We had to hike up a very treacherous trail where we barely made it to the ponds. As each of us would carry three to four small plants we had our daredevils Manny and Alan carrying a big plant around 25 to 30 pounds and Ismael and Ben with another. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the ponds, but oh boy let me tell you it was a hike all right. After having breaks in between the hike we had enough energy to arrive.
After that breath-taking hike and a long break at the ponds, we started getting our hands dirty. We began by planting the plants from the day before as Caleb placed the new plants soon to be planted around the rest of the ponds. As we made it through plant we came to an end, and as we took a water break Rebekah and Caleb walked up the watershed and saw pretty bad erosion going on. So, then we split into smaller groups and started working on rock structures. In total we built around nine of them and two stickchera. Every group did an amazing job with the structures but the one rock structure we where most proud off and that could have had a huge impact in the future, was the zuni bowl we all put a hand in by collecting rocks but the work Steph, Ismael, and Caleb did, especially was outstanding and beautiful and well made.
Even though we had a tough hike coming up, overall it was an amazing day. We made each other laugh, and before ending the day with a debrief, Rebekah talked about the different categories you could experience in the forest service and then gave us a land manager’s guide about maintaining and improving habitat for hummingbirds in Arizona and New Mexico. It was so sweet of her, although we were sad that it was the last day she would work with us, but we said our goodbyes and went home since we had Wednesday off for being 4th of July and would work Thursday and Friday.
Thursday and Friday were both similar working days. Starting off with Thursday the group met with Lily and Caleb at the Rucker Canyon camping sight where from there we headed to Hermitage Spring to do some planting. Before we got to work we played an awesome game of capture the flag, a very intense game that woke everybody up to be ready to work. We started working and did the same process for planting as we did on Monday and Tuesday, we each picked a plant and finished very quick. Then we moved on to our next location, Reed Creek, which was so exciting because we were going to plant in the ponds BECY helped to build last year which was a hustle but a very fun experience. So anyways as we arrived the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) crew was working on some fencing so we minded our own business and started carrying plants to the ponds. It was about noon, when we finished carrying all the plants and broke for lunch. We had about an hour and a half to finish working, so we left most of the planting for Friday.
The group finished planting on Friday and finished the day with our debrief and talked about the work we would be doing the following week. Overall this week was the best week, not only because we took a break from working with rock structures, but because had the chance to work with the ecosystem by planting all these amazing native plants that will help many habitats. Which is a cool thing to work on because while working with erosion control for most of the program and spending a whole week planting we were able to learn to I.D. plants that are in the borderlands and the usage these plants have for people as much as for wildlife.
As each year passes BECY only gets better, and having a team as amazing as this year’s is even better. I only hope it continues to expand and help restore wildlife as much as we can.