Volunteers Assist Rangers with a Tough Job
Working horses and mules are essential to Yellowstone National Park staff, and they require special care and protection. Corrals need to stay in good condition, but replacing an entire corral is an extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive undertaking. Fortunately, a group of incredibly dedicated volunteers spends a week each year helping rangers and their stock by getting this tough job done.
Corrals are located in key areas throughout the Park to contain working stock. The decades-old Lake Corral, located near Yellowstone Lake, is home to 20-25 head of stock from late spring through early fall. Around 8-10 of the horses are used by rangers on backcountry patrol, and up to 15 horses and mules are used by trail maintenance crews.
The corrals protect these working animals from wildlife. Bison, in particular, seeking the hay within corrals, can cause serious and even fatal injuries to stock. However, time and weather extremes take a toll on the wooden corrals, and eventually a full replacement is needed when patch-jobs are no longer adequate.
For a week in late September, 2012, 18 hardy and dedicated volunteers rebuilt the Lake Corral. The project started with the demolition of the old corral post-and-rail fencing and feed bunks, and continued with the installation of 109 posts and 950 linear feet of buck-and-rail corral fencing that better deters wildlife. The crew also installed nine metal gates, constructed new feed bunks, and designed and built a new log archway and sign.
The volunteers -- known as ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers -- consisted of 10 ARCH Venture Partners employees and associates, led by Clint Bybee ARCH co-founder and Yellowstone Park Foundation (YPF) Advisory Council member; seven veterans from Wounded Warrior Project through Disabled Sports USA; and several National Park Service active and retired staff, including Lake maintenance staff who brought in and operated the heavy machinery.
Three of our volunteer veterans worked with us in Yellowstone last year on the West Corral project," said Clint Bybee, "and they did such a great job we are thrilled they could return. The Warriors are always hard-working, spirited, talented and inspiring additions to our volunteer team."
This is the 12th consecutive year that ARCH has performed a service project for Yellowstone, while also covering all expenses associated with the project. This year, ARCH Yellowstone Volunteers and friends donated more than $20,000 worth of supplies and equipment needed for the Lake Corral through the Yellowstone Park Foundation's Ranger Heritage Initiative.
Alice Siebecker, a retired Yellowstone ranger who was formerly stationed at Lake, coordinates food and logistics as a volunteer during the ARCH group's annual projects.
"The rangers have so many important duties to tackle each day," said Siebecker. "If it wasn't for these volunteers coming to help out each year, these corrals simply would never get replaced. It takes an enormous amount of backbreaking work to restore these horse corrals, and the group works tirelessly. It's almost unbelievable that it all gets done in just a few days, and the Park staff is ever so grateful."
Upper right and lower right photos by Alice Siebecker; Upper left and lower left photos by Bril Flint