Friends of ranch lead tour

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A line of 25 people in red and blue overcoats walked along the Carson River at the Silver Saddle Ranch Saturday morning, braving snow flurries to learn more about the 703-acre ranch.

While a Great Blue Heron hunted crawfish and snakes in Mexican Ditch, the group strolled in single file under leafless cottonwoods learning about structures built in the late 1800s and some of the oldest rocks in this part of Nevada.

Emily and Charlotte Meeks of Gardnerville, 8 and 10 respectively, raced to catch the group without letting go of the stick they each held an end of.

While the adults learned about boxes for wood ducks secured over the river, the girls jumped over downed logs and even tried going backward -- all the time united by the branch.

"We had to stick together," explained Emily after the tour. "I guess you could call it the 'stick together' game."

Saturday's tour was part of a general meeting held by the Friends of the Silver Saddle Ranch -- a volunteer group formed to care for the former cattle ranch between Prison Hill and the Pine Nut Mountains.

"It was a little cold but it was fun," said Emily and Charlotte's father, Charles Meeks.

The ranch was acquired by the Bureau of Land Management in 1997 in a land exchange with Perma-Bilt Homes and the American Land Conservancy.

The BLM continues to use the ranch for its original purpose -- allowing cattle to graze in November and housing Forest Service pack horses off and on.

"That helps maintain the look and feel of the ranch like it might have been," said Michael Bish, secretary of the Friends of the Silver Saddle Ranch.

His wife, Nancy, is the president of the group. She leads wildlife tours and discussions on the ranch.

During the every-other month meetings they organize work days as well as educational gatherings centered on geology, botany, archaeology and astronomy.

But the Silver Saddle is not all business for the Bishs -- they hike the grounds of the old ranch north of the Carson-Douglas county line and compile bird lists for future publication.

"That's recreation for us,"Michael Bish said.

At the group's last meeting Oct. 5 a representative from Fleischmann Planetarium was on hand with a telescope to explore the heavens over the Silver Saddle. The group's next meeting -- a work day -- is set for Saturday, May 3 at 9 a.m.

For Your Information

To learn more about the Friends of the Silver Saddle Ranch call the group's president Nancy Bish at 884-1570 or the BLM office at 885-6000.


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