April meeting planned
What are your vacation plans this summer? Do you like to get out in nature and see life on the
“wild” side? Get some ideas for a different kind of vacation at the Blackhawk Sierra Club meeting at 7:30 p.m.,
Monday, April 24, 2006. The group meets at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner St., Rockford.
Stephen Vaughn, treasurer of the Blackhawk group, together with Sue Breidigam, chairman, will
present a multi-media display and discussion of serving the environment while on vacation. Video and slides of
service trips will be shown.
Vaughn has been on several service outings for Sierra Club: Big Bend National Park, an immense
scenic region in the northeastern corner of the Chihuahuan Desert, 400 miles west of San Antonio, Texas. A
forested mountain, canyons, ruins of Old West ghost towns, Native American pictographs, and it contains a
variety of wildlife. In the late 19th century, American pioneers began moving into the last Southwestern
frontier and established ranches; the area was grazed out and hardier desert plants took over. The ranches were
then abandoned. In 1989, the National Park Service purchased one of these ranches, the Harte Ranch, adjacent to
the northwest boundary of Big Bend. The Harte Ranch added 55,000 acres to the park, and includes parts of the
2,000-foot-high Rosillos Mountains.
In the early 1990s, the Park Service invited the Sierra Club to assist in returning the old
ranch back to its natural state. They began by removing barbed wire fences and old, unused telephone poles. From
a base camp in the foothills of the Rosillos Mountains, Sierra Club volunteers would go to the work site and
transport the wire and poles over rough terrain to the nearest road to be picked up for disposal. This work was
completed last year, and future projects in the area include restoration of the native plant life, trail
development, and backcountry exploration and mapping.
The volunteer service outings involve lots of hard work but are extremely popular and often
booked several months in advance. Many volunteers return each year. Trips usually last one week, and are in some
of the most scenic areas of the country.
Sue Breidigam previously worked on restoring trails in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. She
will also share some of her experiences as a volunteer. The program is free and open to the public. For more
information, call Stanley Campbell, conservation chairman, at (815) 964-7111.