10.13.11

Stewardship Project: an important component of the Friends Rendezvous

Back-to-back workshops, productive conversations and air-conditioned conference rooms are all good. But by the last day of the recent Friends Rendezvous in Indian Wells, CA, people were more than happy to take those conversations outside and move some muscle.

The occasion was a stewardship project, organized by local hosts Friends of the Desert Mountains, in the Santa Rosa-San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. This 272,000-acre Monument is an impressive backdrop behind the city and hotel where the Rendezvous was held, so it was a great opportunity to see the area up close and dive into some physical labor.

About 50 Rendezvous people picked up trash, pulled weeds and fixed trails. Twenty Friends of the Desert Mountains staff and volunteers, organized by Arielle Maccio, Director of Volunteer Services, served as group leaders and organized lunch for the whole group. Several BLM staff members in the region devoted their Sunday to the project as well.

We hauled away bags of invasives, lined appropriate trails with rocks, obliterated old ones, swept up broken glass, dug holes and set new signs. One group mixed about a dozen bags of concrete and built a stone wall to shore up a fence. The fence is important because at certain times of the year, it closes off a portion of the area that is breeding habitat for the region’s endangered Peninsular Bighorn sheep population.

No strangers to on-the-ground restoration work, this group returned to the conference hotel predictably dirty, hot and a little tired. Another great day in the field.

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