Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Project 3: Lake Mohave

Back to Lake Mead National Recreation Area for the third project but this time we would be based at Lake Mohave, south of the Hoover Dam rather than further up at Lake Mead. The object of this project was to remove Tamarisk trees from the around the shoreline of the lake. The Tamarisk trees were introduced basically because studies showed that they would flourish. As Lake Mohave was man made the powers that be preferred a species of tree that would grow quickly to help the lake look more natural. The only problem was that they flourished rapidly and more effectively than anyone ever thought possible. Basically each tree consumes around 200 litres of water a day and then dumps a whole load of salt back into the earth, making it nigh on impossible for native species such as Mesquite and a type of Willow to grow.

We had two crews each with two supervisors who were chainsawed trained. Their job was to identify a native species of tree, they would then chainsaw all of the surrounding Tamarisk in order to free it up. We then had to drag these branches and in most cases whole trees around 150 metres across the desert to a slash pile. We then had a sprayer would had a specially designed herbicide that they would spray on the stumps to stop the Tamarisk growing back.

My week started badly as on the first full day I had a really bad head and felt very sick. It didn't help that at the end of the day we had to move camp as we had found a more suitable spot. I couldn't eat a thing at dinner but Sam, our supervisor, recognised that I was dehydrated and ordered me to eat dinner and drink a litre of water. He certainly knows his stuff as half an hour later I was as right as rain. I've been so good with my water intake up until then and even on that day I drank over four litres but it gets hot and is so dry that I'm now averaging six just to be on the safe side.

That evening we watched the sun set over Lake Mohave and we would get to do this every evening as unlike Lake Mead we were on Mountain time and not Pacific. It is so nice getting back to camp after a 10 hour day and it not being dark. Sam has his crews set up a bit differently as well. We break into sets of 3 and take turns to cook the dinner and wash up each and every day, which means rather than everyone getting involved (which we did previously and it worked well) you get to chill out and not do a thing around camp on at least four days. Sitting by the lake watching the sunset, waiting for someone to cook you dinner is a nice feeling. Also we were able to have a fire every single night as our job was cutting down trees which were to be destroyed. The fires were the highlight of my day and probably the trip. You work hard all day, get back to a gorgeous sunset over the lake, someone cooks you dinner and washes up for you and then you get to relax by a roaring fire, looking up at the most amazing starry sky and if you're lucky (which I was) see a few shooting stars. Just perfect.

We really hit our targets on this project and hopefully some of our hard work will go to helping some of the native species of tree continue to grow. You can view all of the pics here.

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