Construction in conservation

By Samantha Hircock

Does construction count as conservation? Why yes, yes it does. When we build a fence for instance, even if it is to protect bicyclists and hikers from steep hills in a recreational park, we’re promoting the protection of both recreational and preserved natural resources by keeping those places destination points for families containing the next generation of nature lovers. But, wait, that’s not all! Sometimes the fences we build are actually keeping out those unfortunate folks who have yet to gain a respect for natural areas and/or property lines. Now, I like quads and dirt bikes as much as the next person, but there’s a place and time for sporting those and it’s not cool to trespass. So, give me a shovel, pass me the wrench, I’ll build a fence! 

Our crew has had the chance for two such fencing projects…

The first was a fence that bordered a ravine off of a trail at the Iowa 4-H center. Crossing a bridge that was built by CCC members, we started with what turned out to be the hardest part on that project, digging the post-holes. We went through three augers for various mechanical failures and lots of energy using our brawn to get through clay with old-school post-hole diggers. (I thought of my grandpa building fence on the farm for personal motivation; he wouldn’t think much of complaint.) We had to make a few system adjustments and aesthetic repairs along the way, and I pulled out my construction-experience hat to figure a way to manage the curves without bowed boards or gaps between boards and posts. The team came together to make the technique a success and I also got to practice some chainsaw carving by cutting the notches in the posts for the boards. Which, if I’m not too hard on myself as a perfectionist, I’m actually rather proud of. Overall, the whole team has a right to be proud of that quite good looking fence, if I do say so myself.

Our most recent project was for a fence that would mark and protect the boundary of the land managed by the Woodbury County Conservation Board in Sioux City, Iowa. Things didn’t all go according to plan as the weather decided to be a little bi-polar and the first part of the project, cutting the path through the woods for the fence, took a little longer than expected. So, we didn’t get to do much of the actual fencing but with a different technique and fencing type (H-frames and un-barbed wire) we still gained a new experience out of starting the effort. We also were glad to be cutting off trespassers’ trails through the area. I mean, we were kind of like super heroes protecting nature against the bad guys if you think about it.