Typically held in June
(For 2015 it is June 13 - 14)
In 2005, The Forest Service had many challenges grazing these allotments, so the Arizona Elk Society offered to make an agreement to buy back the grazing permits from the ranchers and return them to the Forest Service to rest the grazing conflict areas. The Burro Creek Project is focused on working in cooperation with the Forest Service and the Arizona Game & Fish Department to clear out old barbed wire fencing and posts to open up the area to more freedom of movement for the wildlife.
The heart of this project are the volunteers who go into the areas and remove all the unneeded pasture fencing and any other projects that need to be done. Restoring riparian areas, tearing down old corrals and fixing stock tanks and wildlife trick tanks are just some of the projects they work on besides the fence removal. The area they are working in will open up over 30,000 acres for wildlife exclusively.
Hopefully by now most Arizona sportsmen know about the AES Burro Creek Allotment purchase and reconfiguration. In the MOU that the AES signed with the USFS we promised to remove all the fencing around unused pastures that were retired. This will help wildlife by removing obstacles to their migrations, removing dangerous barbed wire so they won’t get tangled and open up the scenic meadows.
Each year volunteers gather at the Big Lake campground for the usual great AES breakfast and started from there removing old barbed wire fences and fencing material. Close to 60 volunteers from around the state, the youngest 9 and the oldest 75, spent the weekend camping and working in the forest around Big Lake. The Arizona Elk Society organized the event and brought equipment,supplies and food to feed everyone for the whole weekend. Most of the volunteers are members of the AES.
Steve Clark, President of the Arizona Elk Society, says that the benefits of the project helps all wildlife as well as recreational users of the forest, ranchers and government agencies that manage the areas. “Our number one priority is to help all wildlife and restore habitat and riparian areas.” It’s not an easy job. The terrain is rough with few roads that are not in the best of shape, rocky hills, dead fall, and miles and miles of solitude. He and a small crew come in a few days early, go over the maps with Forest Service personnel and map out the areas for the work crews. The Forest Service also goes in early and clears debris from the fences and removes fallen trees so the work crews can get to the fences. Members of both the Forest Service and the Arizona Game & Fish Department work with the groups during the weekend. Eight or nine work areas are planned and spread out over many hundreds of acres.
In June 2010 the U.S. Forest Service Springerville District had identified the last four miles of fencing that needed to be removed on the Burro Creek Allotment. These were some of the roughest areas we have had to work in, but now it feels great knowing that we have accomplished so much. The fence removal teams did a fantastic job on Saturday removing the old fencing. This completed 39-40 miles of fence materials pull out and removed from the area just as AES had committed to.
For 2010 AES had about 80 volunteers. We split up into teams to take care of the fencing that needed to be removed and to work on 7 miles of riparian area fencing in need of repair. Every year, the weight of the snow in this area, and this year was one of the worst, collapses fencing that is designed to keep cattle out of the riparian areas. The fence removal phase was just a first phase, since each year AES volunteers return to maintain the Burro Creek allotment and fulfill our commitments to the land, ranchers and species in the area.