Horseshoe Ranch
April 30-May 1

By Tice Supplee, Past President

The last weekend of April and May Day (May 1st) offered perfect weather for our project at Horseshoe Ranch on the Agua Fria National Monument. Arizona Antelope Foundation and the Arizona Wildlife Federation organized a fence modification work project as a part of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Conservation Committee weekend meeting. They had selected Horseshoe Ranch, a long term AAF Adopt-A-Ranch for the meeting as Arizona Game and Fish had recently acquired the ranch.

Our day began with a hearty breakfast prepared by Girl Scout Troop # 9, AWF volunteer Ryna Rock and AAF volunteers Mary and Bill Keebler. The task of the day was to remove excess fencing around a water lot and cattle gathering pasture located on Perry Mesa at the boundary between the BLM and USFS grazing allotments for the ranch. The site is a preferred area for the Unit 21 pronghorn antelope herd and the removal and modification to the fences should make the stock tank at the site much more accessible.

We broke up into two teams and started rolling wire. The old fences were a real hodge-podge and had up to six strands of barbed wire in some areas. We had about 40 volunteers plus BLM and AGFD. Team “A” tackled the pasture fence and Team “B” went after the fence around the stock tank, including tearing out two wing fences that had been used to haze cattle for round ups.

Former Game and Fish commissioner Mike Golightly and his family were part of the field crew and so was Donna Voyles- Director Larry Voyles’ wife. Donna wields a “mean” fence pliers! Arizona Wildlife Federation mustered a good group of volunteers, including AWF president Tom Mackin. These guys attacked the wayward fence lines with a vengeance.

With the added assist of two fence rolling machines the two teams had the unwanted strands of wire rolled and packed by lunch time. Dana Warnecke, Habitat Specialist with AGFD Mesa regional office (and a key player in the acquisition of Horseshoe Ranch) had a wildlife friendly design for the fence modification that would benefit mule deer and pronghorn antelope. Both top and bottom wires are smooth and spacing distances of the middle two wires are designed to minimize chances of a hoof getting wrapped and caught.

A leapfrog work process really accelerated stringing the new wire. Work was broken up into setting new T-posts as needed, stringing the wire, tightening the strand, clipping strands to the posts, and lastly inserting the wire stays. About a mile and a half of fence line which included the entire enclosure fence around the stock tank was completed by 4:00 PM. Satisfied and weary fence workers returned to camp at Horseshoe Ranch for a delicious tri-tips dinner.

A few of the AAF board members stayed over for the Sunday Conservation Committee meeting. A very interesting and informative presentation about trends in Arizona wildlife recreation participation sparked a lively discussion. Craig McMullen then gave a presentation about the AGFD hunter and angler recruitment and retention programs followed by Joe Yarchin speaking about Watchable Wildlife. Commissioner Norm Freeman, the new chair of this committee, encouraged the enthusiasm and fresh thinking of the group. AGFD is willing to present any or all of the information we heard to conservation organizations. The survey results about wildlife recreation is particularly interesting.

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