Baylor Mountain Ranch
Van Horn, Texas
March 28th and 29th, 2008
Their motivations undoubtedly vary. Some of the folks here have been doing this for decades, and for some this was their first rattle out of the box. They came from all walks of life, and most scrambled to find time in their schedules and money for gas (OK maybe all of us had to dig deep for that...) but whatever the motivation, about eighty people gathered in bighorn country from points far and wide to eat some West Texas dust, work like dogs for a couple of days, and generally share a passion for wild things and wild places with some other like-minded souls.
The Staging Area at Dawn
Finding a way to get people involved in conservation and getting them to take ownership in our natural resources requires thinking outside the box, particularly when it comes to something like desert bighorn sheep, an animal that few of us will ever see, let alone hunt or eat. Texas Parks and Wildlife has found a way to let the people of TBS do exactly that with our annual Work Project, and while it usually means more work for them, the end result is well worth the investment. The sweat equity and hard earned money of a few dozen people is translated into year-around water sources for wildlife, but more importantly it becomes a tangible link between we humans and the natural world that supports us all. In a flash of brilliance Dan Boone decided to bring along a paint pen this year and let everyone that worked on building these guzzlers sign their name to the finished product. And just that simply, through what might at some other time and place be considered graffiti, a bond was established between species that may not share the same physical space very often, but certainly share the same long term considerations. The sheep won't read those signatures, and truth be told very few people will either, but a very positive difference was made here in the desert over the course of a couple of days in March.
Aero West Helicopter Service Going to Work
Things went wrong this year, as history tells us they are prone to do. The helicopter broke down and a bunch of people had to walk off of the mountain, a few tools and supplies were forgotten or lost and a couple trips to town were required, and blisters, sunburns, and twisted ankles served as reminders of the physical nature of this endeavor long after it was over. But none of this mattered much in the end as I believe everyone looked back with a great deal of pride and a well-deserved sense of accomplishment at their role in this conservation project.