Some Bureau of Land Management firefighters spent much of Tuesday hanging about $6,000 worth of signs at the Silver Saddle Ranch off Carson River Road.
The nine firefighters, on a break from fighting fires, were helping other BLM staff and volunteers ready the ranch for its public debut.
After two years of planning, the Silver Saddle Ranch is being opened to the public for a work day Saturday in celebration of National Public Lands Day.
The BLM has spent more than two years ironing out the details of how to create recreation opportunities at the historic 703-acre ranch, yet protect its natural habitat for wildlife. The ranch was acquired by the BLM in 1997 in a land exchange with Perma-Bilt Homes and the American Land Conservancy. The plan to protect the ranch was finished in August.
The historic Mexican Ditch runs through the ranch, which with its 1920s era farm houses and acres of open space should be a cultural and historic boon for the city, said Chris Miller, outdoor recreation planner for the Bureau of Land Management.
Miller has spent the last two years of her career with the BLM working with the Carson River Advisory Committee and other Carson City officials planning for the ranch's opening. With its location on the Carson River, between Prison Hill and the Pine Nut Mountains, Miller hopes area residents will enjoy the recreation opportunities the ranch will offer.
But first, it needs to be spiffed up a bit.
Miller is hoping to see about 175 people show up early Saturday to volunteer to fix trails, paint buildings and clean along the Carson River. The volunteer day at the ranch celebrates not only National Public Lands Day and the official opening of the Silver Saddle, but also the Kiwanis-sponsored Carson River Clean Up Day. The BLM and Carson City have spent over $100,000 so far getting the ranch into opening shape. The ranch will take up to $138,000 a year to operate.
Saturday, volunteers will be clearing a trail on the east side of Prison Hill that will connect to trails on the hill's west side. Barns will be painted the original red color of the farm house and several out buildings still at the ranch.
"This is a way for people to give back to the land," Miller said. "This is public land and you should be involved in public lands. This really will be a jewel for Carson City."
There will be environmental education activities for children as well as exhibits from the Audubon Society, the BLM wild horse and burro program, the National Interagency Fire Center from Boise, Idaho and other exhibits.
The Silver Saddle plan turns the ranch into a large urban park and calls for the development of parking lots, picnic areas and trails into the Pine Nut Mountains, the Prison Hill Recreation Area and other nearby public lands. The trail system will mesh with the city's current and planned hiking/biking trails. Parts of the ranch continues to be irrigated and harvested for grass hay, and cattle and sheep will still graze the pastures. The historical homes on the property will be preserved, although they will probably not be open to the public, Miller said.
Bringing many of the old houses and buildings to current safety codes would ruin them, she said. One day she'd like to see fiberglass windows installed into some of the old barns so people can see a bit of what a ranching barn looks like.
The plan also includes the preservation of and the extension of trails into the Ambrose Natural Area north of the Silver Saddle along the river.
Miller is hoping to start a Friends of the Silver Saddle group to carry out volunteer activities at the ranch. She is hosting a volunteer information day Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the BLM office, 5665 Morgan Mill Road.
If you go:
What: National Public Lands Day and Carson River Clean-up at Silver Saddle Ranch
When: Saturday, 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Silver Saddle Ranch, Carson River Road.
Call Chris Miller at 885-6148 to let her know how many people you'll be bringing to the work party.
7:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. Registration and work assignments
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Historical tour of ranch, children's activities and exhibits
11:30 a.m. to noon Nevada Division of Wildlife with volunteer help will plant hatchling fish in the Carson River
noon to 1:30 p.m. Barbecue lunch provided by the Kiwanis
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sweet Water Highway Band to preform for guests