This year's Camp-out was held on the eastern rim of Diablo Canyon, on Bar T Bar Ranch near Dog Valley. A total of 40 guests showed up, ranging from Diablo Trust old-timers to brand new visitors, interested in seeing and learning what the Diablo Trust community does.
We started the event at an Forage Resource Study Group (FRSG) cage, where Steve Cassady (AZGFD), Iric Burden (NRCS), and Laura Dorsey (Bar T Bar Ranch) gave a short synthesis of the data as it has been recorded over the last 26 years. After a short discussion about the worthwhileness of the data and the continuation of the monitoring efforts in general, we moved up the road to a historic exclosure installed in the early 1950s by the Soil Conservation Service (SCS, now named the Natural Resource Conservation Service, or NRCS) to study the vivacity and tendencies of certain wild flora, such as Western Wheatgrass.
Our first activity at the exclosure was a small contest to guess how large it is. Answers ranged from 3 acres to 60; the two winners, Janet Krones and Kit Metzger, both guessed 12 acres. The actual size, according to GoogleEarth, is 13.1 acres.
After walking around inside the exclosure, we went outside the fence and Andrew Brischke (UA Cooperative Extension) taught us how to use a new tablet app to more efficiently record and summarize pace-frequency monitoring data in the field. We wrapped up this stop by walking around the exclosure to a large prairie dog town. While still in the grazed area of the pasture, it looks different than the other side of the exlcosure because of the presence of the prairie dogs. The soil and flora of the grazed areas were very different than inside the exclosure, where cattle have been absent for at least sixty years. There are pros and cons to each of the three distinct floral communities, and it is important to remember that you see something as 'good' or 'bad' depending on what your short and long-term goals are for the area in question.
Dinner started shortly thereafter, and we had quite an amazing spread of pot-luck dishes: fruit and green salads, chips and dips, cassaroles, and potatoes. The dessert table was no less delectable, with multiple cakes, cookies, brownies, and fruit trays. As in the past, beer was provided by our friends at Mother Road Brewery in Flagstaff. We also used reusable plates and cups from Friends of Flagstaff's Future, who have a free 'zero waste' program.
There was a bit of rain at the end of dinner, but in general the evening had only cloud cover.
The next morning we took a hike down into Diablo Canyon to see some modern and ancient archaeology, including an old sheep camp, and ancient Native American cliff dwellings. It was a wonderful morning, and everyone expressed great appreciation for the opportunity to explore this part of the ranch and see such beauty in the canyon.
In all, this Camp-out was a success and we only look forward to many more reunions and gatherings of friends and family!
You can see more pictures from the weekend here!