Sand Island Volunteer Day

Don Simonis by Semester in the West

Brandt Hart, BLM River Ranger
Don Simonis, Archeologist
Joe Pachack, Artist & Archeologist

Sand Island Volunteer Day
Bluff, Utah
October 6

During the first day of Semester in the West’s ten-year reunion on October 6th, the 2012 Westies spent the day away from camp, building a fence and removing invasive plants at the Sand Island recreation site near Bluff, Utah. Don Simonis, an archeologist, met the group at the Sand Island BLM ranger station beside current river ranger Brandt Hart, and local artist Joe Pachack. Don and Joe walked the Westies to a recently discovered rock art panel, displaying mastodons etched by ancient peoples during the Pleistocene. The three hosts displayed past removal of invasive Russian olive trees by the BLM in the cottonwood forest along the San Juan River. Near the panel, Brandt taught the Westies how to build a classic buck-and-pole fence. After instruction on power tool safety, the one-day carpenters began construction, drilling holes and bolting poles together. Some of the Westies went to work with hand tools, cutting any Russian Olives that had returned in the forest’s understory. By afternoon, a wood fence stood strong protecting the rock art panels. The Westies were awarded for their work with a refreshing swim in the San Juan River, and red “National Public Lands Day” t-shirts.

By Chase Martin

About semesterinthewest

Semester in the West

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