Submitted photo
Sierra Club volunteers and Ely District specialists over Memorial Day weekend completed a portion of a buck rail fence intended to prevent visitors from tumbling down the creek bank and into the water below.

By Chris Hanefield

Special to The Ely Times 

Sierra Club volunteers and Bureau of Land Management staff withstood Memorial Day weekend’s inclement weather to begin restoring the Goshute Creek Campground that burned in last summer’s Goshute Cave Fire north of Ely.

Braving high winds, heavy rain, light snow and the occasional hailstorm, eight volunteers and two BLM Ely District specialists in two days erected 250 feet of buck rail fence between the campground and creek, and installed three picnic tables and fire rings. 

Upstream, they planted bitterbrush seed.

Sierra Club Senior Wilderness Volunteer and retired Wilderness Chair Vicky Hoover said the volunteers do it because it is fun. “It’s fun to be out in a beautiful place with compatible people while helping take care of our land,” Hoover said.

The lightning-ignited Goshute Cave Fire burned more than 32,000 acres in and outside the Goshute Canyon Wilderness in Elko and White Pine counties. Restoring the campground is part of the BLM’s post-fire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation plan. 

Still to do, another 500 feet of fence and additional seeding. When complete, the fence will help prevent visitors from falling off the creek bank and into the water below, a drop of 20 to 30 feet. The seeding will prevent soil loss and provide forage for wildlife.

The Sierra Club has been working with the BLM Ely District on wilderness projects for 15 years, beginning in 2004 after passage of the Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act. 

Through the years, club members have removed from wilderness in White Pine and Lincoln counties a culvert, a guzzler, long coils of barbed wire from obsolete fencing, countless fragments of broken glass, and even a refrigerator. 

They have also constructed post and rail fences at wilderness entrances to prohibit motor vehicle access while allowing for pedestrian and equestrian use.

Ely District Outdoor Recreation Planner John Miller said project planning begins six months prior with a telephone call to establish a date. He said the project and location are determined soon after. “I really enjoy my Sierra Club volunteer work trips. Club members come from all over the West to help me accomplish hard work in remote locations and often difficult terrain. When I need help with a project, I know who to call,” Miller said.