The Lolo NF Heritage Team, with the help of some truly outstanding volunteers, completed another successful PIT project at the Poacher Gulch Garden Terraces. The project ran from Monday June 4 to Saturday June 16, 2007. Seven volunteers worked with the Missoula Ranger District and The University of Montana (Dr. Kelly Dixon, and PhD student Chris Merritt) on the twelve-day project. PIT volunteers came from Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Florida and Washington. They donated a total of 396 hours over the course of the two weeks, which is conservatively valued as a contribution of $5,476.68! As a result of their efforts, the mysteries of the Poacher Gulch Garden Terrace are closer to being resolved.
The number of tasks completed during the twelve days was more than we had anticipated. Every volunteer contributed to setting up grid units, screening all excavated materials, correctly and proficiently mapping the entire site, successfully excavating several 1x1 meter and 2x2meter units, and last but not least, efficiently documenting the excavation with field notes. The project was accomplished professionally due to the skill, positive attitude, and maturity of the participants.
Juanita Allen served as our cook for this project and did an excellent job under some challenging and arduous conditions in our back country field camp. The meals she prepared were delicious as well as nutritious. Much of the success for the planning and execution for this undertaking goes to Chris Merritt, PhD student at The University Montana. Chris and I undertook the supervisory and safety duties as well as participating in several of the previously described tasks. The majority of the success, of course, must be credited to the amazing group of PIT volunteers and field school students who brought an exceptional level of skill in archaeology to the project.
Visitors to the project included; Sarah Levenworth (Reporter for the Clark Fork Valley Press), John Hamilton (Reporter for Sanders County Ledger), Steve Platt (Montana Department of Transportation), Mark Baumler (Montana State Historic Preservation Officer), Sam Redfern (Program Officer IMP), Dr. Kelly Dixon (University of Montana Professor), and two members of the public from Plains, Montana. Sarah and John each wrote a feature news story for their respective newspapers.