Friday, August 16, 2013

More Signs (Summer Projects, Part IV)

When we arrived this summer, there was a stack of new interpretive panels in one of the maintenance buildings, along with an assortment of steel supports. Our "to-do" list included an entry for installing the new interpretive signs on the Bluff Overlook.

The Bluff Overlook is an elevated area that looks down on some wetlands.  It is located in the far southeastern corner of the Alamosa NWR, and is accessed over about 8 miles of bumpy dirt road. Two years ago there was a project to add parking and a scenic overlook, and now the signs for that overlook needed to be installed.

Our first task was to head out to the overlook with refuge manager Suzanne and decide where the signs were to be placed.
Whole lot of pointing going on...
Teri being a sign.
The initial assumption was that the installation of the signs would require several people, the backhoe, trailers, etc., but we know that coordinating that kind of effort can be difficult.  Folks always have other things to do. So Teri and I took a hard look at what was required and decided to try it ourselves.

We loaded up two of the signs, their supports, a post hole digger, bags of concrete, buckets of water, wheelbarrow, tools and  hardware and bumped our way out to the site. We hoped that we had everything we needed, as it is about an hour round-trip to the shops.

First task was to dig holes for the legs of the signs. The refuge has a small gasoline powered digger which was a big help.  But the holes had to be finished with a good old-fashioned clamshell type digger.  Ugh...
Starting a hole.
Getting deeper. 
Once the holes were finished, the signs had to be assembled. The legs attached with a type of hammered rivet that I'd never seen before.  It is very secure and vandal-proof, but could only be installed once.  So we had to make sure that everything was lined up before we placed the fasteners.
Attaching legs to sign.
Once the legs were attached we carried the assembly over to the holes and dropped it in. After a bit of final leveling and plumbing we backfilled the holes with concrete. No pictures of this since Teri and I were both busy carrying the signs, then mixing and placing the concrete.
Installed sign.
We placed two signs the first morning, two the second, and a final sign on the third. So we got all of the overlook signs installed in three days. We only worked mornings on this project as the sun gets really intense out there after noon. Sometimes projects that look really big turn out to be simpler than everyone thought. You've just got to break them down into smaller tasks. 
End of day one.
End of day three.
There is one larger vertical sign to be installed at a trailhead down the road.  We'll get that one in soon.



  1. Wallace has installed several of these signs...without that nice hole digger!!! Those interp signs really are nice with good info. Good job.

    1. I was really pleased to discover that post-hole digger. It has saved me mucho work!

  2. Are you going to have to put those spikes on each of the signs to keep the birds off?

    I always enjoy interpretive signs, but I wouldn't want to have to dig the holes.

    1. We're holding off on the spikes for now. These signs are low and folks could lean on them or against them. Also, they are way up above the marshy area, and we don't see many birds perching up there.