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EAC Discovery Park Campus benefits from extensive work projects by Ft. Grant Wildland Fire Crew

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EAC Discovery Park Campus benefits from extensive work projects by Ft. Grant Wildland Fire Crew

By Lori Dugan

Thatcher, AZ—Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus welcomed 18 members of the Ft. Grant Wildland Fire Crew while they were in the Safford area in early February to train and hone their skills in preparation for wildland fire season.

Under the direction of Fire Crew Supervisors Chad Bailey, David Larson, Sgt. Wanda Kiele, and State Forestry Coordinator Lehi Viscaino, the crew completed several important projects on Discovery Park Campus that required heavy manpower. One of the projects included repairing and clearing a 500-yard drainage ditch of sand, debris, and vegetation from previous heavy rains. The drainage system has been a concern because the obstructing debris and vegetation has caused flooded roadways and erosion of the ditch carrying the vital rainwater runoff to the Discovery Park Campus Pond and Riparian Area.

The crew also improved the “Nature’s Hide-Away” walking and jogging trails – repairing eroded areas and trimming back overgrown mesquite trees. Along with removing dead vegetation in the desert areas around the campus called “fuel reduction” that could potentially fuel a wildland fire, the crews also trimmed or “laddered” dozens of large mesquite trees to eliminate dead or downward reaching branches and to promote healthy and attractive new growth for shade.

“These young men preparing to protect us from wildfires and other natural threats were a pleasure to work with. With positive and friendly attitudes, they enjoyed the hard work and the opportunity to make a difference in our community,” observed Paul Anger, EAC Discovery Park Campus director. “I was impressed with their attention to detail and their ability to work together as a team – I never saw a ‘weakest link,’ each crew member did their part, and then some!” Besides their rigorous practice with chainsaws, hand tools, and hard work to prepare for the upcoming fire season, the Ft. Grant Wildl and Fire Crew members take pride in improving and beautifying wherever they are with community enhancement projects. While at Discovery Park Campus, the crews completed work on the wooden railing beside the entrance road guiding visitors along the curving drive into the parking lot. They also installed beautiful wooden beam steps leading from the serene Cottonwood stand up to the bank of the pond facilitating access for birdwatchers or hikers, and perfect for family pictures. The Discovery Park Archaeological Dig Site was cleaned, and the soil softened for local youth to participate in upcoming lessons and activities. The most visible project was at the “Boot Hill” style Historical Graveyard just below the greenhouse. Created through an Eagle Scout Project, it features faux graves and headstones with names and details of important individuals from Graham County history. The Ft. Grant Wildland Fire Crew created a rustic barbed-wire and mesquite-branch fence to protect the informational site and a walkway to the entrance to invite passers-by to take a minute and visit the site to learn of these area progenitors.

“I really appreciate all the work and improvements that they did at Discovery Park, and I hope the community comes out to see and enjoy their efforts,” said Anger.

For more information about EAC’s Discovery Park Campus, contact Anger at (928) 428-6260.