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Birch Creek Historic Ranch Corral Project

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Birch Creek Ranch

Birch Creek Road

Jordan Valley, OR 97910

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Come join Friends of the Owyhee (FOTO) work with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) repair an old corral at Birch Creek Historic Ranch located on the Owyhee River.

The Birch Creek Historic Ranch buildings and remains give you a glimpse of the earliest Euro-American settlement in the Owyhee Canyon and the significant role Basque immigrants in Malheur County. Birch Creek Ranch, is located at the mouth of Birch Creek and was first settled by a Basque sheepherder Domingo Lequerica and subsequently operated by other Basques in the sheep industry (Donato Uberuaga and Simon and Mercedes Acordagoitia) through the historic period. The Morrison Ranch was settled by cattle and horse rancher James Morrison. Both properties were homesteaded between 1899 and 1901. The property was used as the headquarters for livestock ranching operations throughout the historic and early modern periods until 1968-1977 when the ranches were sold to Martin Rust II, who used the property strictly for recreation purposes. Both Birch Creek Ranch and the Morrison Ranch were acquired in 1988 by the Bureau of Land Management and were combined as one unit under a National Register of Historic Places eligibility study in 1988 that culminated in a formal determination of eligibility by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as a rural historic landscape. In the 1990’s flooding also unearthed Native artifacts that excited the archeological community. Archeological evidence indicates the natives used this area for 1000’s of years and was in a transitional area with cultural traditions of both the Great Basin and Columbia Plateau regions.

Work to be done:

The BLM has asked Friends of the Owyhee for help on some projects at the historic ranch site. Wood will natural rot/decompose in soil. The Corral near the old barn on the Birch Creek Ranch site is having this issue. The posts for the corral are rotting off and the fence is slowly falling down. This corral is something that we want our future generations to be able to see since this has a cultural significance to the history of this landscape. So the job at hand is remove the fence rails from the post without breaking them, remove the post and place a new post which will be a Juniper log. Since this corral is on the National Historic registry we have to replace with the same like materials that would have been used during the construction of this corral. We will also place the original corral rails to keep the historical look. The BLM will supply all tools needed for this including a tractor with fence post auger. This will make the job a lot simpler. When the tractor is in operation hard hats that are provided will be worn.

Camp:

Friday September 22: We will meet at the Chevron in Marsing, Idaho where Highway 55 meets Highway 95. (5644 Buntrock Rd, Marsing, ID 83639) at 4pm. We will have the great privilege to camp in the grass area in the shade near the care takers house. This is right next to the work site and is usually not an area allowed for camping. This evening we will look over the work site.

Saturday September 23: After a good breakfast we will hopefully start the project around 9am. We will have a time mid-afternoon for a long break and a swim in the river to cool off. We will end the day in the early evening.

Sunday September 24: After a good breakfast we will hopefully start the project around 9am.We will work till 1pm and from 1-2 we will clean up the work site. We will leave Birch Creek by 4pm and once we get back to Highway 95 we will be on our own to get back to our respected homes.

The Acordagoitia House will be open for us to socialize in during the time are there. They will have an air conditioner set up in it and we will have access to the Toilet and shower. You will have to provide your own food, transportation to and from Birch Creek, and you own gas. The road into Birch creek is gravel and is in good shape. Please make sure your tires are in good condition and that you have a full size spare. The decent into Birch creek is steep and reqires 5 creek crossings. Subaru Clearance is a good comparison for the minimum clearance needed to access.

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Birch Creek Ranch

Birch Creek Road

Jordan Valley, OR 97910

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