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BCHC Mid Valley Unit

Wild Link Project, September, 2008

In September of 2008 the Mid Valley Unit of BCHC, U.S. Forest Service, the Yosemite Wild Link program, and the Turlock High School Wild Link program combined forces to give students an "hands-on" lesson in a wilderness monitoring project.

All photos courtesy of Karen Lopes.
You may jump to the newsletter article below the pictures.

High school students admiring horses
Students admiring the horses

People packing a mule load.
Packing the mule for the trip

Group of adults and high school students
At the Gianelli Trailhead. Back Row (Standing) (l-r): Yosemite Wild Link Coordinator David Kuhn, 5 Students , Forest Service Wilderness Manager Adam Barnett, BCHC Mid Valley Member and Wilderness Rider Dennis Serpa. Front Row (Kneeling) (l-r): BCHC MV Member and WR Dave Moser, 2 Students, BCHC MV Member and WR Karen Lopes.

Students taking down a tent
All good things must end; taking down the tent.

Home   |   Activities   |   2008

Wild Link Project A Great Success!

By Karen Lopes

Seven students from Turlock High School participated in a wilderness monitoring project in the Emigrant Wilderness September 12-14, 2008. Five adults accompanied them. Adam Barnett from the U.S. Forest Service, David Kuhn from the Yosemite Wild Link program, and Backcountry Horsemen of California, Mid Valley Unit members Dave Moser, Dennis Serpa, and myself (all Wilderness Riders).

The first night students and adults arrived at Pine Valley Horse Camp, which is located just outside of the wilderness boundary and maintained by the Mid Valley Unit. Students set up their tents, ate dinner, and then while sitting around the campfire, listened to introductions, safety on the trail, and safety around the stock animals.

Saturday morning students awoke early and packed up their gear. We had delicious breakfast burritos, prepared by Mid Valley member Nancy Gross, and then hit the road to the trailhead, which was about a 40 minute drive. Students watched as the first pack mules were saddled and the loads were tied on. Students listened to BCH/WR's Dennis Serpa and Dave Moser as they discussed the history of how pack animals helped pioneers cross the Sierras on their way to the goldmines. The hikers, the seven students, Adam, David, and Dave, were then on their way. Dennis and I finished loading up the four pack animals, and then started out about an hour behind the students.

Along the trail Adam demonstrated the use of the Garmin GPS devices. Students then determined the coordinates of their current locations using the GPS system. Students practiced using their GPS systems while they were stopped for lunch. Some also indulged in a little swim at a nearby lake. They arrived at the campsite location in the early afternoon. Adam then gave specific directions on how to conduct the campsite monitoring. We used our campsite as an example where students had to determine the GPS location, measure the square footage of various parts of the campsite, record various information concerning the fire ring, measure the distance to water, the distance to the trail, and other pertinent information. Students then broke into two groups, and were given about 7 different campsites to monitor. Each campsite took between 15-20 minutes, and students also had to take pictures of the campsite and record the camera number and picture number on their paperwork. All along, Leave No Trace principles were discussed, and the importance of these principles was easily recognized as students conducted their monitoring. The delicious Dutch oven dinner of chicken pot pie, prepared by Dave Moser, was enjoyed by all. Dave and Dennis each prepared a separate Dutch oven dessert that equally impressed and filled the students. Afterwards, students listened as the five adults gave presentations over the seven LNT principles.

Sunday morning, students were allowed to sleep in until 7:30 a.m.! They rolled up sleeping bags, took down tents, and packed their gear for the trip back to the trailhead. They then enjoyed pancakes and sausage for breakfast. A few campsite reports required some additional data, so some students returned to collect that information. Other students helped with various camp chores, and the entire group collected a good amount of micro trash as they made one final sweep over the area where we stayed. Students hit the trail around 11:00 a.m., and made it back to the trailhead around 2:00 p.m.

The Mid Valley Unit of BCHC, along with the U.S. Forest Service, the Yosemite Wild Link program, and the Turlock High School Wild Link worked together to plan and execute this activity. We used a grant totaling over $3,000 from the California Wildlands Grassroots Tides Foundation to provide the GPS devices, measuring tapes, digital cameras, food and supplies.

The Mid Valley Unit purchased family memberships for the students in order to be compliant with insurance coverage. When planning this cooperative project, our goal was to provide students with a hands-on activity of wilderness monitoring in order to help foster an appreciation for the backcountry. After spending the entire weekend with these seven students, we feel that our goal was met; and that these students have in fact developed a new passion for the wilderness. The effort and enthusiasm the students exhibited towards this project throughout the weekend was an encouraging site! It was easy to recognize that some of them had already developed a heart-felt passion for the wilderness. As new members of the BCHC, we hope that they will bring their energy and enthusiasm to some of our future events.

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Backcountry Horsemen of California - Mid Valley Unit
PO Box 1709
Modesto CA 95353-1709

Questions about the Mid Valley Unit? Ask Dennise Davis,
Questions about the web site? Ask Ted Pack,

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