The AAF continues to make a difference on the Mesa as was evident the weekend of May 15, 2004. The turnout looked bleak around our waning campfire Friday
night! The women and children were sleeping as VP Dave Laird and I contemplated a project with no turnout. It was one of those weekends with conflicting conservation projects, so we knew some of the
regulars wouldn't be able to make it, but with the heat coming to the Valley, the allure of the High Country should've been great! We were also going to work on another grassland restoration effort
that should've drawn out a number of people, particularly when so many complain about the demise of the pronghorn on the grasslands. Where were all these outspoken critics?
You've got people ranting about ranchers, reporters crying about coyote killing, purists that want to take away your access and roads,and anti-hunters that simply are
anti-everything, unless it means no people and no use. Then you have the inevitable disagreements within
our own community: too many elk, not enough elk! And so it goes, seemingly with the AAF chipping away and putting our money (& sweat equity) where our mouth is. Where were the nattering nabobs of
negativism? (remember that one?)
Saturday morning broke bright and early with the arrival of help. Past Presidents David Brown & Joe Bill Pickrell came into camp, followed by Richard Ockenfels and Oscar and
Marlene Oland - we had some help! Rick Miller (G&F) and Henry Provencio (USFS) led us to our cutting area along with Tom Finley and his son James. We had a crew, but the "gang" we had hoped
for at this Northern Arizona location was nowhere to be seen.
Mid morning that changed...with several folks from the Grand Canyon Trust and the Youth Conservation Corps from Flagstaff arriving.
Junipers took a cutting and a beating! While some were taken out in total, most of the larger ones were being "prepped" for a chain saw crew coming in the following
weekend. At days end, we estimated our 38 people took out at least 38 acres! Some thought more, but an acre per person per day isn't too bad, when you've got an age span of volunteers
from 11 to 72!
It is still hard to fathom that a two foot tall tree may be 20 years old, but if you go back a century and change the picture, you'd have a general idea of
"then", compared to the current "now".
At day's end, we went to see the sight of a documented lion killed pronghorn. One of the animals from our November 2003 collar project was killed a week earlier.
While we didn't see the sight, you could envision that predator stalking pronghorn on the edge of the junipers...we made a difference that day!
Our steak fry didn't have the turnout we had hoped, as most of the Flagstaff people went home. However one veteran project attendee and Past AAF President hit the nail on the head
summarizing our Saturday meal..."it was the best steak I ever had!" Thanks to the cooks, Tracy Unmacht, Sue Foote, Marlene Oland and Dave Laird! Thanks too for the
"buyer", Mr. Bill Hook!
In addition to the aforementioned, thanks to the following: Grace & Jimmy Unmacht, Amber Ford, Rick Keller, Michelle Corning and Karen Murray