After Road Obliteration After Road Obliteration <p>Bighorn National Canyon</p>

Russian Olive, Don, Road Obliteration, Don

  • June 03, 2014
  • Posted by Evan Willeford

May 12 through the 23 were a busy couple of weeks for the Billings YCL crew. We started off in Laurel, tangling with some russian olive in an attempt to revitalize the ecosystem by allowing native plant species a chance to flourish.  Despite an unrelenting sun, and thorns that managed to make their way through the sole of my boot, as well as any other article of clothing save a hardhat, I’d welcome another spree cutting russian olive if duty calls.

Our project sponsor was Don Galvin of the BLM, someone who we would grow pretty fond of through the coming weeks. It’s always great to have a project sponsor who has a healthy arsenal of one liners to lighten the mood when the going gets rough. The thing about Don, he might be giving directions to the project site or explaining that grizzly scat could be easily be identified by an abundance of bells, whistles, and a strong peppermint odor but his demeanor rarely changed. Often I began to get the impression that he was laughing on the inside, but he usually didn’t show it. Don was a guy who had been a lot of places, seen a lot of things, and was in no hurry to convince you of either and by the end of our first week we didn’t quite know what to make of him but we were sure that we liked him.

Next stop, road obliteration in the Pryors, also with Don.  Now when I first heard road obliteration I imagined winding asphalt roads, jackhammers, and other tools of the smashing nature. As it turns out, we were armed with only picks, pulaskis and a variety of dead brush which we used to hide the entrances to dirt roads from the naked eye. It took a few tries, but there’s a art to it and we became pretty proficient as the week progressed. 

These roads were not heavily traveled. Some used maybe once a month, others less. But in an arid region like the Pryors where plant life seems slow to grow and quick to die the traffic was sufficient to disturb the landscape enough so the next happy-go-lucky camper or merry prankster could spot a chance for some off the beaten path adventure and head off in the sunset (I’ve been that guy before). This type of work brought home an important lesson for me. Always be mindful and keep your behavior in check. You will probably be followed, even if no one is in sight. 

We returned home dusty and in good spirits. As we were de-rigging, we received a surprise visit from Don. He had stopped by to thank us for a good week and a job well done. And that was all a slightly eccentric, funny smelling YCL crew out of Billings could have asked for.


Awesome job Evan! Thanks for a great post and an amazing couple of weeks!

Posted by Erin Murray at June 03 2014

Great re-cap Evan, thanks for sharing.

Posted by Kevin at June 04 2014

I’m glad I found your article.  I would never have made sense of this topic on my own.  I’ve read a few other arteilcs on this subject, but I was confused until I read yours.

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Posted by Alie at July 25 2014

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