Barbed Wire and Calderas

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 2:17am


Katie Johnescu
This being my first post I'm not really sure how to I'm just going to jump right in where Heidi left off. Last Thursday, July 7th, we interns spent our first full day off of the water in a long time to help out Kim Ragotzkie, the Stewardship Director at the foundation, with the very important task of fencing. After dealing with some unanticipated car problems first thing in the morning (aka attempting (and failing) to jump Anne Marie's car at the Shell station) we met Kim by the Mesa Falls exit off of Route 20 so that we could head over to Harriman State Park and begin working. And that's when the real fun began. Now when I heard that we were going to spend the day putting up barbed wire fencing I wasn't really sure how this task would stack up in comparison with our more regular duties; however, the day ended up being beautiful and fencing itself proved to be a task which gave us all a sense of accomplishment. By the end of the day we had replaced the fencing which had to be taken down for the winter (so as to prevent snow-induced damages) next to the portion of the Henry's Fork River running alongside of Route 20. While working with fencing is not something which we interns do all that often, ensuring that effective riparian fencing is in place is essential to the health of the Henry’s Fork in that it prevents cattle grazing from causing degradation to the riverbank. Thus, our day proved to be an extremely well spent break from our usual order of business.

After the weekend, we returned to work today for a field trip! Seriously though, who gets to go on field trips while at work…how awesome is that?! We were fortunate enough to spend the day with Dr. Bill Hackett, a local geologist, in order to learn about the unique geological history of Island Park and its surroundings. The highlights of the trip included stops at Mesa Falls, Big Springs, a location near the Island Park Reservoir, and various outcrops in the area primarily to discuss how the Henry’s Fork Caldera formed. We learned a lot of really technical stuff, but essentially continental drift along a hotspot, which is now in Yellowstone, combined with a series of volcanic activities roughly 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 600 thousand years ago, are the things which have formed both the roughly 20-mile wide caldera in which Island Park lies as well as the neighboring caldera in Yellowstone. It was super interesting to be able to see Island Park from the perspective of a professional geologist, who looks at a landscape and sees things in a completely different way from most people. Today was truly a unique and informative experience for us interns to learn about this area where we are spending our summer.