Tony Ranch Update
On the 3rd of May, landscape architects and architects from Moore/Swick Partnership and SALT Board Member Lynn Miller hiked into Tony Ranch in order to be there for the next day early morning arrival of the food and equipment which was brought in by helicopter from a staging area at the BHP Billiton Copper Mine.
On the 4th of May, members of the team from Archaeological Consulting Services (ACS) hiked into the site guided by the Legendary Trail Guide, Don Wells, and SALT Board Member Barry Peebles. For the next four days, the ACS Team consisting of cultural and landscape historians, geomorphologists, hydrologists, biologists, spatial mapping analysts, and, ecologists conducted investigations and analysis needed to complete the survey necessary for SALT to develop a monitoring and management plan for this unique riparian area. The fieldwork involved a Class III Cultural Resource Survey, a Cultural Landscape Inventory, Biological Inventories (flora and fauna), Riparian Health Assessment, and Soil and Water Testing. SALT Board Member Cyndi Ruehl was present to assist the ecological team.
The team of landscape architects and architects did a preliminary investigation and analysis of the landscape features and completed a detail inventory, analysis drawings of the existing condition of the cabin to ascertain what would be necessary for preservation and stabilization of this historic structure.
Moore/Swick and ACS completed the preliminary cultural historical survey and the ecological survey in July, and Salt submitted them to the US Army Corps of Engineers for review and recommendations. These preliminary studies provided sufficient data to indicate that the historic homestead and the historic cabin would be eligible for listing on the National Registry.
Upon receipt of the review from the Corps of Engineers, SALT will start the process of developing a long range plan for monitoring and management of this area. Also, SALT is planning monitoring visits to the site and a spring clean up and removal of trash from the site.
Tony Ranch Monitoring trip 5/20/11
Tom McDonald’s Journal
Bob Strobel and I met packers Bob DeBow, Todd Carter and Dale Bowers at North end of 203 trail 8am. They took off ahead of us with my gear and camp supplies.
After an uneventful hike we arrived @ cabin around 12 noon. Packers left soon after. We set up camp in the junipers south of the cabin and immediately got to work installing the signs. The first two at the cabin were easy to site and went in quickly. The next two spots were more difficult to choose. On the north end of the property the 203 from the east and north splits into a dozen or more trails before entering the property so it was not clear where we could post the signs and catch all traffic. After much discussing and walking about checking out our options we decided to put this set of signs just north of the springs at a pinch point where all trails come together. GPS E494803 & N3694548. These signs are well into the property but placed in such a way as to be seen by almost all who enter the meadow/cabin area.
The south end of the property posed a similar situation, no clear property boundaries, trails on either side of the wash and only one set of signs to post. There was a good pinch point at what may have been close to the end of the property but it was located in the wash so was not a good choice for that reason.
We finally decided to post the signs at the gate on the south end. This was the only way horses could get in and the most likely for hikers as someone has flagged this south trail out as far as Bob and I had walked, leading all traffic right through the gate. Coordinates for this posting E494803 N3694060??
All photo points were located and marked with paint for tomorrow’s picture taking session. Existing stakes were found at points #7, #4 and a marking flag at #5.
Bob and I walked south to try and find the property boundaries with no luck.
Comments from first day’s work:
- North/South signs do not mark property boundaries but are well inside property, leaving some prime campsites on property unsigned.
- Property boundaries absolutely need to be found.
- This is not a one person job, Bob’s help was invaluable, he is an experienced woodsman with a great sense of direction and knowledge of GPS and other valuable skills. Lucky for me I did not go up here alone to try and do this work.
- Very tiring day, very nice camp.
- Cleaned and re-positioned tank at spring
- Lots of yellow clover up and down the property
Sun came over ridge 7:30am. Repositioning the water tank yesterday seemed to slightly change the flow of the stream till Bob pointed out a drain hole on tank that had become plugged with algae, once cleaned, stream returned to its normal direction and flow.
After a hearty breakfast we started (8am) to shoot our photo points and stream reaches. The plan was to use Bob’s camera for the reaches and mine for the photo points, keeping both sets of shots in order as instructed. This would allow us to work together and hopeful walk the property only once.
After starting at the cabin we worked our way south adhering to our plan. When we reached the south end of the property I again decided to search for the corner markers of the property. Looking for blazes on the larger trees and the stone markers as described in the historical survey. After a fruitless hour of searching we gave up. Bob did however find a very angry AZ Black Rattler which we photographed. We also saw lots of game trails and deer sign.
Photographing the reaches proved a real challenge. They were not marked with GPS coordinates and we were working from 2 year old photos. The stream bed seemed to have changed quite a bit, there appeared to have been quite a lot of water flow at some point in that time span. #3 was a real challenge as it was just a few yards from #2 and we walked right past it. It took us several more hours of up and down in the rough terrain of the wash before we found it and #’s 4 & 5.
Decided to tackle #6 after lunch. After consulting our maps, we retraced our steps from #5 (which is the only one we are unsure of because the 2009 picture gives no reference points, only photo of a stream bank).
We soon found #6 and were back on track. #11 also proved difficult and cost us a lot of time…we did however get some pictures of a tree frog and horny toad we found in the wash. Interestingly both were the same color of the stone they were sitting on.
At the north end we again spent some time looking for property corners with no success. We finished our day at 5:30pm after taking a set of repeat pictures of the cabin and meadow from the 2009 folder given me by Cyndi Ruehl.
Comments 2nd day:
The spring box is in a sorry state of disrepair and needs attention ASAP. Suggest the packers be enlisted to plan and implement repairs.
This morning was dedicated to cleaning the cabin, most of which Bob did and taking as many photos of wildflowers as I could find. Discovered a GPS cache behind cabin on the national Forrest (I think). Removed pages from the log leaving the old book in place and taking the pages dated from April 2009 to present. Turns out we had had visitors in on Saturday because they signed the logs at both the ranch and GPS cache.
We had approximately 2 hour of down time before the packers arrived to carry our gear out. They had all loaded in less than 30minutes, including at least a ½ dozen bags of trash that Bob had gathered up from the cabin.
Hike out was more tiring than the one in, probably because of getting no ‘rest’ at camp.
Comments from day three:
- Would be nice if the reaches were marked by GPS coordinates
- I regret taking out the entries from the team that did the ecological and cultural assessment. Recommend that SALT prepare a permanent sign or something to install at the Ranch.
- Bob pointed out that the journal may be moot at this point, with no trespassing signs posted how likely will folks be to record their visits? (At least in a positive way.)
- I personally would like to remove the no trespassing verbiage on those signs.
- There is lots of downed trees, scrub growth and yellow clover, grasses etc., a potential fuel for a catastrophic fire. Recommend we meet with the Forrest Service ASAP not only to mark boundaries but to come up with Best Practices to prevent a fire from damaging our resource beyond our ability to repair it in our life time.
- We should know more about what mining activities are south of the property.
- I think Tony Ranch is a great opportunity for SALT to increase its numbers substantially, by capitalizing on the mystic and popularity of the place. A ‘friends of Tony Ranch’ group should be formed immediately within SALT to start to garner support (physical, financial and technique) to implement our Management and Monitoring proposal.