By Glen Dickens, VP/Grants/Projects Mgr.
On Saturday March 16th, 2019 we held our first of many future planned fence removal projects in the Vekol Valley approximately 30 miles southwest of Casa Grande. This in cooperation with the Phoenix District Office of the Bureau of Land Management and their efforts to make this zone more pronghorn friendly for a planned Sonoran Pronghorn supplemental release. The Sonoran Pronghorn subspecies is not hunted, is currently federally listed as Endangered and it’s restoration is being co-managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Note the quarterly updates included in each issue of the Pronghorn.
This was only the second “winter project” we have held, the first being the Ajo waterhole fence construction project in January of 2018. Going forward in addition to our usual 4 fence projects held in April, June, August and September, this is intended to be our 5th project each winter, weather and government shutdowns notwithstanding. For this project we had 30 volunteers, who enjoyed bluebird daytime winter temps and evenings cool enough to enjoy gathering around the fire.
For this first project we removed four miles of existing fence and a wire corral three miles west of the Vekol Valley road and three miles south of Interstate 8. All wire was rolled and removed and to the degree possible old wooden fence posts were removed as well. For the Friday afternoon project early arrivals helped brush out the road from camp to the work site and then having time on their hands they removed an entire wire corral and metal fence posts.
As stated previously this effort is in direct support of the Endangered Pronghorn re-establishment efforts. These projects will help ensure that future pronghorn and resident mule deer can safely utilize open desert and grassland corridors without interference due to fence line obstructions. After this project this zone now has 50 miles of total fence to be removed. It’s our goal to take out the highest priority 20 miles over the next several project years.
Dinners were served on Friday and Saturday nights with the sides provided
by Chefs Mary and Bill Keebler and they hosted Saturday and Sunday morning breakfasts as well. Thanks Mary and Bill!
Thanks, go out to several groups of folks that contributed to this successful project:
-Representing the AAF Board: Ken Meadors, Dave Cagle, Al Sue, Connie Taylor, Gary Boyer, Joe-Bill Pickrell and yours truly.
-BLM: Mike Daehler
-US Air Force: Jesup Helget
-Becoming an Outdoor Woman: Linda Dightmon
-Game & Fish personnel: Troy Christensen, Travis Clarkson and Noah Ratcliff
-Other AAF members and volunteers: Betty Dickens, Mary and Bill Keebler, Jamie and Deana Watkins, Dave Laird, Johnny Johnson, Darrel Wood, Kathy Cook, Al Kreutz, David Breeden, Richard Roller, Keith Callaway, Sherry Christensen, Oscar Oland, Stanley Crisher, Andy Little, Dennis Pikul and Mark Hullinger
Thanks, everyone for your efforts!
Photos by Betty Dickens