Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge
June 19-21, 2009
The recent Sheldon Rendezvous volunteer stewardship
project was a success for the Sheldon Refuge. This last weekend, June
19-21, more than 60 volunteers teamed up with the US Fish & Wildlife Service to
improve habitat for pronghorn antelope and other wildlife and to enhance the
boundary on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northern Nevada. The
volunteers converged on the Virgin River campground Friday, and some took
advantage of the hot springs and natural hot showers at this campground. At
least 10 USF&WS agency personnel from the Sheldon and Hart Mountain refuges
participated and provided team leadership for work projects.
In four separate work projects, volunteers removed about
10 miles of unnecessary barbed-wire fence that threatened wildlife. Such fence
removal will be a focus for future projects for some time. Volunteers also placed
signs along 15 miles of newly constructed boundary. In addition, volunteers
repaired an exclosure fence at Murdock Spring, which will help plants and water
quality recover for the benefit of wildlife.
Volunteers travelled from as far away as Seattle and
Southern California, and many parts in between, to help with the projects. Many
volunteers were affiliated with the new Sheldon Refuge Network, a diverse alliance
of sportsmen, wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists to support the US Fish &
Wildlife Service in managing the Sheldon Refuge. Participants ranged in age from
3 to 83. And we attest that they performed useful work at both ends of the age
spectrum -- HURRAH for the young and not-so-young. Kids at the project worked
hard pulling invasive weeds at the campground, then they learned about wildlife
and history on a hike into nearby Kinney Creek Gorge. It was great to see all
the volunteers with different interests and backgrounds working together to
protect a very special place we all love.
Friends of Nevada Wilderness (FNW) coordinated this first
annual Sheldon Rendezvous, and we look forward to a continuation of this as an
annual event. It is a logical continuation of annual work projects that were
formerly sponsored by the Sierra Club and by the Audubon Society. FNW also
served up some wonderful food Saturday evening, as well as supplying breakfasts
on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The weather was off-and-on rain almost the entire weekend,
with perhaps the brightest spot being the Saturday workday. Frequent showers
disrupted camp life, but the group managed to keep their spirits. The agency
personnel said that this is the wettest June in memory on the Sheldon Refuge,
with nearly 4 inches of rain in June alone. Consequently, we observed an
extraordinarily green carpet of high desert and abundant wildflowers.
The rendezvous coincided with the birthday of Jim Yoakum,
the leading expert on antelope in the US. Jim, now retired, traveled up to the
rendezvous and offered his insights on the Sheldon Refuge from many years of
being involved. A large birthday cake was enjoyed by all, especially Jim himself
Around the campfire, Paul Steblein (Hart Mountain and
Sheldon Refuges supervisor) reported on the state of the Sheldon Refuge, the
challenges to its management, and plans for its future. Other people volunteered
their insights on the Sheldon Refuge, garnered from years of visits to the place
and dedicated watchdog activities. Clearly many people in our network care
passionately about the Sheldon Refuge and support its management goals.
The Sheldon Refuge staff is currently updating the
Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP), which will be released this summer
for comment. We encourage everyone in the Sheldon Refuge Network (you are a de
facto member if you are getting this e-newsletter) to comment on this document.
We will, of course, notify you when this is available for comment, but mark the
refuge website and check for further information there as well.
Photo captions and credits:
-- Miles and miles to go to reach the end of the
fence removal. Photo by David von Seggern.
-- Antelope amidst the wildflowers in a dry lake
bed at Sheldon Refuge. Photo by Kurt Kuznicki.
-- Paul Steblein, Shaaron Netherton and Liz Bell
dismantle a fence corner structure. Photo by Kurt Kuznicki.
-- Sportsman Bob Milne works at pulling out fence
posts. Photo by Kurt Kuznicki.
-- Shaaron Netherton presents Jim Yoakum a birthday
card from all of the volunteers. Photo by Kurt Kuznicki.
For descriptions of the Sheldon Refuge, refer to the
Friends of Nevada Wilderness has posted information on
Sheldon Refuge plan.
We look forward to your participation.
Larry Johnson, Shaaron Netherton, John Capurro, David Von Seggern, Judi Caron, and Tina Nappe