October 18, 2008
By Shane Stewart
Volunteerism was in the air for our October work project at the EZ Ranch East of Cordes
Junction. As Friday night wore on more and more people began to show. By the time everyone was in and counted we had 78 volunteers from all over the state. This included 30 Boy Scouts from Queen Creek
(TROOP #738), Friends of the Agua Fria, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Arizona Wildlife Federation, students of ASU, NAU and proactive citizens. This is the largest
turnout the organization has had at a work project, and is really encouraging to see what we are capable of.
The facilities at the EZ ranch were top
notch, from the full service restrooms to the tree covered camping spots with full lighting, picnic tables and group areas. Scott Smith, the owner of the ranch made us all feel right at home.
Saturday morning began early with hot coffee prepared by the Keeblers and donuts for everyone provided by the Friends of the Agua Fria. A meeting was
held to inform all volunteers of the work we would be completing and the safety precautions that would be observed. With
everyone signed in and accounted for, the crowd was broken into 3 groups to tackle 3 separate sections of fence.
The basic crux of the project was to remove the bottom strand of barb wire from the fence sections and replace it with a properly placed smooth wire to allow unrestricted antelope
movement. The areas where work was performed have been observed as a travel corridors for antelope in this portion of Unit 21. This project goes hand in hand with the Juniper thinning
project that has been ongoing in this area, and will go a long way in improving the amount of useable habitat in unit 21.
were dispersed and given direction by G&F personnel as to their task to complete on each section of fence. Each group poured into their work with great enthusiasm, and it was great to see all of the
youngsters working right along side the adults with a spirit that only kids can emit. As sections of the barb wire were removed, the wire was
rolled using the AAF’s fence roller mounted on an ATV. With constant supervision by G&F employees as well as experienced volunteers, the work went very smoothly and by around 4:00
pm the 3 fence sections about 2.5 miles total) were completed.
Everyone began the trip back to the camp at the ranch headquarters, and got to enjoy seeing
the Buffalo and Red Stag that are raised on the EZ ranch. Once back at camp the AAF prepared a steak dinner for all of the volunteers with all of the fixins’. Needless to say, after a
day of hard work there wasn’t a complaint to be heard, the meal was excellent. After dinner everyone was served a treat of homemade dutch oven cobblers and again there wasn’t a
grimace. Camp was broken up on Sunday and everyone headed their separate ways.
This was one of the most successful turnouts of volunteers, and will not soon be forgotten. It
was truly a collaborative effort by many individuals and groups with the common goal of improving habitat. Thanks to everyone that came, “strength truly came in numbers”!!