2017 – Program update – scope of work for the year – it is with focused intention that the CHAC will be working with various government agencies in 2017, and is striving to be a bridge between these agencies and the local Tres Piedras community, as well as communicating about these efforts in a world wide setting, so that all can witness the benefits of cooperative behavior.
- Continue the program started in 2014 with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife – United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – spring enhancement, riparian environment, mountain grass establishment, monitoring of the small headed golden weed rare plant, and monitoring of ranch bird populations with the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. Completion of initial contract.
- Continued implementation of the program started in 2016 with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS/USDA)
- Potential cooperative Landscape Restoration Project with the USDA – United States Forest Service (USFS) and the CHAC. After a slow start I am seeing the potential for a synergistic effect of working with the USFS and our adjoining lands.
2016 – New Programs
- We started a series of new projects with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This series of projects will continue the Creative Healing Arts Center’s intention of putting conservation on the ground in Tres Piedras with our ranch, and it will help the local environment by decreasing erosion and increasing habitat for wildlife, as well as the ranch animals. These projects include: erosion control, improved fencing to better separate segments of the ranch as well as protecting the riparian areas and the Aspen grove. Additionally we will be reclaiming 14 acres from sage overgrowth and restoring these acres to native mountain grasses. Lastly we will be adding a new pond in one of the runoff ditches to decrease erosion and increase wildlife habitat and more riparian environment.
- In July, we began one of the fencing projects that separates the back part of the ranch where the 14 acres are being reclaimed. We also started treating the sage and will be bush hogging the sage in 2017 and planting the acreage in mountain grasses.
November, 2015 the Creative Healing Arts Center received a wonderful donation from Alison Eakin. Thank you Ali, we so appreciate your generous gifts!
The donation included cows, calves and a bull for the ranch. As well many farm items such as: a livestock trailer, a utility trailer, gates, fencing materials, a tiller and implements, hay, solar equipment, a wood burning kitchen stove, and many other useful farm items.
May 20, 2015 – Creative Healing Arts Center (CHAC) Update
1. Large Spring – the spring melt of snow has been better than expected and the water flow from the main spring and snag spring has been exceptional. The net result is a pond that has been filled to capacity with water, I’m bordering on calling it a small lake!
1.b. Large Spring – water running down to pond
2. Pond – I am so excited to share this video of the pond and it’s greatly enhanced size due to the work on the springs and the nice snow melt in March and April.
* To compare the amounts of water – look at these pictures from 2014 and the way the pond looked then – notice the fence and the grasses and the actual pond size – and contrast those with the video from 2015.
3. Grasses – because of the wetter spring we have a nice stand of grasses coming up in the areas we seeded last Fall, I’m hoping we continue to get nice moisture through the monsoon season and the grass continues to get rooted and grow.
May 1, 2015 – Creative Healing Arts Center (CHAC) Charlie Griak Video Update
May 20, 2015 – Hoot Owl Motel Renovation in progress
2014 Creative Healing Arts Center (CHAC) – Program Implementation
This spring the CHAC was awarded it’s first matching funds program with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife through the Partners Program in New Mexico. Many of the government sponsored grants these days are matching funds which demands a lot of participation and investment (exchange) by the recipient. This first program has many exciting aspects to it because it gives me experience dealing with government agencies and it puts the CHAC to work doing good for the planet and creating teaching material to show people what can happen if we take care of our natural resources. Ultimately all of the activities of reclaiming this land and giving it TLC will make this place even more magical than it already is. See the pictures below and check out the Gallery too!
The projects we are working on now are:
1. Large Spring – clearing brush, repairing inner walls, building an enclosed lid to help with water quality, build two drinking pools for wildlife that will be piped out of the spring. We’ve cleared so much dead willow brush and thirsty cedar trees that I can not only see the wood box covering the spring, but I can only imagine how much more water is going to be flowing in the spring!
2. Snag Spring – built a retaining wall to keep out sediment, fenced the area to keep animals out of the small spring, and installed a pipe to bring water out to a drinking pool for wildlife
3. Small Pond – fenced one half of the pond to establish a riparian environment for wildlife (fyi…Cowboy, the mule loves to “waller” in the dirt, to get to the water all he has to do is walk around the fence to the unfenced side.
4. Large Pond – fenced one half of the pond to establish a riparian environment for wildlife
5. Sage Removal and Grass Establishment – 2 – 2.5 acres test plots of removing mountain sage brush and planting mountain grass seed to establish more food for wildlife
6. Small Headed Goldenweed – identification and mapping of this rare plant
Calendar of work for 2014
October, 2014 – Grass seeding on the two mountain grass test plots. (photo’s coming)
September, 2014 – Small headed goldenweed rare plant mapping will be taking place
August, 2014 – Brush removal around the Main Spring
July, 2014 – Two test plots of 2.5 acres each were bush hogged and cleared of mountain sage. Later in the Fall we will plant several varieties of mountain grass establishing more food for wildlife. Also a field day was sponsored by the CHAC featuring training about how to identify and map the rare plant – small headed goldenweed by Bob Sivinski and Daniella Roth of the New Mexico Rare Plant Botany Program
June, 2014 – The two ponds were fenced in two half moons to allow for the establishment of a riparian environment developed around half of each pond.
May, 2014 – Work started with the Partners For Fish and Wildlife Program in New Mexico. The initial work kicked off with further development and enhancement of the springs. The Snag Spring was fenced and a fortified perimeter was built to keep sediment and debris from filling in the spring back in. Also a couple of drinking pools have been built for wildlife. Pictures below.
The springs are flowing nicely especially with some late snow!
2013 Programs – see descriptions below
1. Water Conservation Program – slowing runoff and installing catchment basins. Much of the water that falls on the ranch and that comes out of the ground runs off. If we can slow this water down it will provide much more nourishment for vegetation and wildlife.
2013 Accomplishments with the Water Conservation Program! We successfully dug out the springs and they are flowing with much more ease. Much gratitude to Borut Lesjak for cleaning out the old main spring by hand! As you can see from the pictures the spring was lined with rocks and a portion of the wall has caved in. Most of the cleaning had to do with removing the rocks and many years of sediment accumulation.
After a few hours of digging we made our way down to the water.
Also tremendous thanks to Robert and Michele Conklin for their help with the backhoe in digging out the second spring. It was an old seep that had filled in to the point of needing some mechanical help, so we used the backhoe to clean out this very old spring. It is now flowing very nicely with the moisture of the 2013 monsoon and the early snow melt of the 2013/14 winter.
* Also a special thanks to Howard Stephens and Guy Drapeau for their assistance with these projects, and to the management team of Julie and Elliott Brinkley.
2. 2014 – Mountain Grass Establishment Program – clearing of some mountain sage and planting mountain grasses in selected plots. The plan will be to put in several 2-4 acre grass plots that will be “checker boarded” in with the mountain sage. This will result in wildlife habitat enhancement for the Elk, Mule Deer and many smaller animals that will feed off the increased food supplies.
2013 Accomplishments with the initial sage clearing tests, and natural grass recovery program!
We’ve cleared several acres of sage on the property with a bush hog and in doing this we are testing to see how well the native grasses come back on their own, or to identify how much seeding we will need to do in the cleared areas. So far it seems that there is plenty of dormant grass seed in the ground just waiting for sunlight and moisture. Later in the spring (2014) we will evaluate how well the grass has filled in and is providing food for wildlife, but as you can see in the second photo the grass will grow as soon as the sage is cleared and there’s enough moisture to get things growing. In the overall picture most of the ranch will still be covered with the mountain sage, we will just be attempting to establish some areas within the sage for wildlife grazing.
3. 2013 – Restoration of Ranch Buildings Program – the cabins and barn are all worth restoring and preserving as part of the historic Rush Ranch.
a. The Hoot Owl Motel as it’s aptly named was built in the 1930’s by Hiriam Smith. Mr. Rush lived here with his wife Marie when they were first married. We have started the restoration by putting on a new metal roof. The next phase will be to restore the interior.
b. The A-frame cabin was built in the late 1960’s. It has a solid foundation but could use some new steps, handrails and porch.
c. The barn was built in the 1930’s, and is in decent shape considering all the years of weathering. It needs a new roof and some repair with the siding, as well as some work on the corral.
2013 Accomplishments with the barn and corral! The corral has been reworked and some new gates have been built. As well new doors are currently being built for the barn and the roof is being repaired along with missing boards being replaced. The barn is quite a sound structure and could easily be standing another 100 years!
d. Creative restoration project of the historic Albert Pickens cabin built in 1929. It will take a lot of work to bring this old cabin back to life, but it’s a project I have passion about and will work to restore it with my own hands soon.
2013 Accomplishment! – initial clearing of some of the area around the cabin. We are keeping our eyes open for some old logs to be used to help restore the old cabin.
4. Design of New Structures Program – Main Lodge. The image below is a futuristic vision of the ranch and main lodge at some point in the future.