Monday, October 17, 2011

Late Summer Work at Sheldon and Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuges

The summer started a little late for Cory and I, as we didn’t get down to Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada until the first week of August. After a week of getting oriented with the protocol and the refuge, we were sent out on our own for the duration of our employment. In the middle of our tour of duty we also spent a few weeks in Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southern Oregon. In Sheldon we sampled Virgin and Fish Creek watershed and in Hart Mountain we Sampled the Guano Creek watershed. We drove a lot of very rocky and bumpy roads, hiked many miles with heavy packs, and found many more dry and unsampleable sites than sampleable ones. We even had a stream that was sampleable in its mid reaches but dry in its upper reaches and dried up before its deposit into the nearest reservoir. We got used to trudging through roses, stinging nettles, and sagebrush that were very thick and as tall as we were. There were also many beautiful sunsets and sunrises as well as brilliantly clear starry skies. We soaked in the hot-spring pool at Virgin Campground with guppies, bullfrog tadpoles, and opal miners.

Cory shocking up fish in Fish Creek

Sometimes there was water upstream from standing at one point in the creek…

…but the creek was dry downstream (Fish Creek)

Horse pelvic girdles make great masks.

We saw lots of horse-damaged streams in Sheldon.

One of the many gorgeous sunsets. This one was at Hart Mountain.

Virgin Canyon

An army gravesite at Hart Mountain.

We sampled fish that looked more like cutthroat and fish that looked like redbands, and every hybrid combination you could think of in between. We also sampled a few Alvord chub and a lot of Tui chub in Nevada. Aside from fish, we saw many different kinds of animals. We saw deer, pronghorn antelope, wild horses and burrows, black-tailed jackrabbits, rattlesnakes, coyotes, lizards, thousands of little frogs, lots of different waterfowl species and other birds, and even a pygmy rabbit, which a wildlife crew had been searching for all summer on Sheldon but never saw.

One of the prettier fish we saw in Guano Creek.

Wild horses at Sheldon.

Burros at Sheldon.

Deer at Hart Mountain.

Coyote pup at Sheldon

Submitted by Ben Willis and Cory Stratton

1 comment:

  1. Let me know if you need support or electroshockers for trips into the SE. I'm certified by NOAA on shocking and have both smith root gear and a Wisconsin ets shocker. Love to join you in the desert streams!