I was thrust into this world when I signed up to take part in an Earthwatch Institute expedition to study the ecology of argali, the largest mountain sheep in the world, and develop a long term conservation management plan for the species. Research suggests that the argali population declines primarily as a result of poaching and conflicts with domestic livestock production.
seven and a half hour train ride from
The first three days we set up two quarter mile long fences ten feet apart to catch the argalis. Local herders were hired to drive the sheep into the nets where we could hold them while they were measured, weighed and radio transmitters installed. The first two days a few Siberian ibexes were captured, but no argalis. On the third day we captured three including a lamb. That evening we and the herders celebrated at a disco at a local cold spring resort where they ran out of beer after one round.
The following days were spent using radio telemetry equipment to locate the various sheep we had collared previously and noting their activities. Small groups would be driven by van in various directions many miles from the research site. We located the sheep in an area by telemetry, and then walked back by use of a GPS unit. Additional days were spent doing small mammal research along with vegetation sampling to determine the amount and type of plant material available for the argalis. The research is on going and is beginning to shed light on the entire plant and animal community of Ikh Nart, a prerequisite to effective ecosystem management and conservation.
We had the opportunity to visit two local families in their gers which are portable traditional tents with a lattice folding frame covered by wool felt to allow them to move as their animals require new pastures. You do not knock on the door of a ger to enter, but simply walk in as all are welcome in this sparsely settled country, and the residents will serve you milk-tea and snacks, if not a complete meal, with soup and some dried lamb that they have hanging inside the door. Living in a one room yurt, Mongolians have no personal space, as we are used to.
This was my first Earthwatch expedition, which was a great experience and adventure and I am looking at a future trip at this time. To where it will be, I do not know.
Outings Committee ChairGLACIER NATIONAL PARK
By Allyn Schneider, firstname.lastname@example.org
By 2020 the glaciers in Glacier National Park will have melted because of global warming. Will the park’s name change? No! The park was named because the area was carved by glaciers during the last Ice Age. The spectacular valleys are "u" shaped, not the "v" shape of valleys formed by rivers.
The park has over 700 miles of hiking trails in its million acres and is a premier hiking park. There is only one road through it, the “Going to the Sun".
I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in the park in August leading a Sierra Club Service Trip with ten participants and a co-leader who was also a gourmet chef. With a trail crew of four, we worked four different trails. We brushed 4,000 feet of trail, did tread maintenance on 1,900 feet, relocated 180 feet, installed 25 feet of drainage and other trail work.
One highlight was observing a wolf pack of eight crossing a creek in a canyon down below us. Some nights we would hear the wolves howling. We were prepared for grizzlies with our bear spray, but did not encounter a single one. We had great weather, but one day the wind was from the southeast and brought smoke from the wildfires in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. While hiking near the continental divide on one of our days off, we encountered both mountain goats and sheep.
Glacier N.P. is a wonderful place that all should try to visit. If you are really ambitious, try your hand at some trail maintenance work!
ANWR: A PLACE WORTH SAVING
Allyn Schneider, Outings Chair
I had the opportunity in June to spend twelve days backpacking in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with six other Sierra Club members. I had worked hard as many of you did to protect the Arctic N.W.R. from oil exploration by phoning, writing and e-mailing our Congressmen. We were successful and I wanted to see what we saved.
It was the greatest backpack trip I have been on and in the most beautiful and pristine area. The Arctic N.W.R. is surely a place worth saving.
Left: Wooly Lousewort