On August 9th and 10th, fifty-five people braved the heat and dust to attend the First Ever Pathfinder Volunteer Days at the Pathfinder Buzzard Ranch. Volunteers included sportsmen and sportswomen, personnel from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and many people representing wildlife organizations, especially the Muley Fanatic Foundation (MFF), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Audubon Rockies. Pathfinder Volunteer Days is an effort to directly improve habitat, expand wildlife viewing and public hunting access, and strengthen conservation partnerships.
(Above) With the Ferris Mountains rising in the background, the Saturday morning Volunteer Days crew poses around the old woven-wire fencing and rotted cedar posts.
Results of Pathfinder Volunteer Days included the total conversion of 2.5 miles of fencing and the installation of two migration gates, which directly improves the movement of elk, deer and antelope from Bear Mountain into the Buzzard Meadows.
(Above) Before the migration gate is installed, passage into the fenced pasture is difficult for young elk, deer and antelope.
(Below) A finished migration gate at the foot of Bear Mountain. Once livestock are moved to another pasture, the four inch horizontal posts are removed to allow big game to pass easily into the pasture.
Twenty-seven wet meadow structures were built to enhance riparian vegetation for sage-grouse usage. These structures enhance mesic habitat, which becomes the precious wet, green places that sustain wildlife during the summer months.
Volunteers built level-topped rock weirs that create sage-grouse wet meadow habitat
"Expressing my deep gratitude to the volunteers was the hardest part of the weekend, because I just couldn't say thank you enough," says Matt Hoobler, Director of Operations for Pathfinder Ranches. "People's passion for Wyoming wildlife led them to the ranch, and due to their efforts, have left Pathfinder Ranches a healthier place."