October 6-8,  was the start of a new project in Unit 8. We were at Big Spring south of Williams installing an enclosure fence to keep cattle, sheep and ungulates out of the main headwaters of the spring. Huge shoutout to the volunteers that not only worked very hard but we had to contend with 2 heavy rain and hail events during our three days working.

Work consisted of digging 24" holes to cement the posts into that will anchor the new pipe rail fence to protect the spring. Lots and wildlife all around us, deer walking by camp, turkeys roosting 200 yards from camp and not to be outdone by Russ and his pet Prairie Rattlesnakes at our Butcherknife project we had a visit from an Arizona Black Rattlesnake

October 20-22 we were in unit 8 south of Williams continuing our project at Big Springs. We had one of the biggest volunteer groups we have had all summer. On Friday a few of us headed over to the Ranger station to load up the fencing materials needed. It took 2 trailers loaded to the top, but we were able to successfully get everything needed to the job site.

After getting there we were joined by a few other volunteers at our base camp, before hauling the materials on a very rocky and rough road to the top of the draw where they were unloaded. We started to haul the fence panels and posts down a steep hill by hand to the bottom of the draw. As more people showed up we broke into teams. A hauling team and a post setting/concrete mixing team. We were able to get almost all the posts cemented and set by quitting time.

Saturday we had 22 volunteers ready to work. We were installing a new type of fence, designed by the Arizona Elk Society, that we had never worked with before. This fence type uses what I would call C brackets using self-tapping screws to connect the fence panels to the already set posts, and connectors slide into the premade panels to connect them together. After figuring out how to assemble it, we broke into teams again. We had some holding fence, some screwing the fence to the posts, some hauling fence panels to their respective places around the perimeter of the fence, and eventually once we got the hang of how it went broke into 2 installation teams. We were able to finish setting the few posts as well with concrete. When all was said and done, we had one side of the fence up, and a couple of panels on another side.

Sunday we had around 20 volunteers as well. We packed up camp and headed down to the spring. Once there we had 3 different teams installing panels and the process went much faster. We were able to get another side fully completed to the top of the spring, as well as work on a top portion. By quitting time Sunday, we only have 10 sections of fence left to install.

Between our work days, we relaxed by a campfire telling stories with lots of laughter. We even heard elk bugles, lots of coyotes every night, and played with a tarantula. Food was great all weekend and friendships were established. We would like to thank all the groups that were involved all weekend. Spring Steward Institute, Kaibab NF, AZGFD, Arizona Wild, NAU, Hopi Nation, and our regular AES volunteers. Without you our weekend would not have been as productive.

On November 3rd and 4th we were again back at the Big Springs project site south of Williams in Unit 8 to finish up our fence build. For this particular project, the remaining work to be done was the toughest, as we were installing the fence above the spring head as well as down a steeper side hill.

On Friday we started by hauling all of our materials down to the draw again via the Ranger. On a side not, this little Ranger we have has really impressed me with some of the terrain you are able to navigate with it. We had a total of 9 people working, and we were able to get a couple of the remaining 10 panels put up before stopping for the day.

Saturday morning was rang in with temperatures below 30 degrees, which made the coffee and breakfast burritos taste that much better. We had a crew of 12 for Saturday. The fence on the top of the spring was easier to install than we thought it would be. It was fairly flat across the top. The side slope was a tough challenge to get all the panels to line up. We did develop a neat little method to get all the panels lined up with proper spacing and to look good down the steep slope though. We did learn for the next project building this type of fence to bring plenty of drill bits and screws, as some of these posts were very hard to drill into. Sometimes we even had to use a torch to heat the material to make it softer to drill.

As some worked on installing the new fence, others in our crew worked on loading up the material that we would not be using on a flatbed trailer and cleaning up the site. Around probably 3 PM we had all the extra materials loaded up, the fence panels completely installed, and caps put on top of the posts. At this point we turned our attention to the road that we had made to haul materials down the steep slope of the draw with the ranger. By the time we were done, you could not even tell that we had a small road going down, and it looked completely natural again.

We would like to thank all of the organizations once again who helped with this project. This weekend  we had workers from the Spring Steward Institute, AZGFD, Kaibab NF, and our regular AES volunteers.