UPDATE: The springs monitoring crew (Talia, Tara, and myself) has just returned from a productive spring surveying trip in Gold Butte National Monument! In three days, we surveyed 18 springs, bringing the grand total of springs surveyed since August 2020 to 82!
While out there, we met with Andrea Hazelton and Brianna Mann, project partners from the Spring Stewardship Institute. With their help, we were able to split up and cover more territory, reaching springs that hadn’t been surveyed since the 90s or earlier. They also brought some welcome expertise in vegetation identification.
Gold Butte, with its long history of mining and ranching, has many developed springs surrounded by pipes, cisterns, or paddocks, now all in disuse and disrepair. At many of the spring points, we found only remains of a once-flowing spring and its infrastructure that had supported animals, humans, and industry alike. Gold Butte also has many super-salty springs (you can identify them by the snow-like precipitates covering the ground around the spring!), but that didn’t seem to be stopping the burros from getting a drink!
We’re looking forward to returning to Gold Butte with the UTV to reach many difficult-to-access springs at the southernmost point of the monument. We also identified several spots ideal for restoration work, which could include maintaining vehicle- and burro- exclusion fencing, or controlling invasive tamarisk.