The arena at Sisters Rodeo grounds is being reconditioned in a major construction project to deplete rock in the arena for the protection of both livestock and competitors.
“We have formed human sweeps of the rodeo arena every year since 1979,” said President Glenn Miller, “and the rocks still work up from deep in the ground. Other forms of screening rock only last four to five years. We decided to take action that will prevent rocks from surfacing in the future.”
The facelift required removing 2,600 yards of surface, to a depth of 20 inches, from the 38,000 square feet of arena space. It was dumped outside the arena to form an impressively long, high wall of dirt. There, it is being screened to 1/2 inch minus dirt before the screened soil is returned to the arena.
Rob Lindsay, project manager and owner of McKenzie Cascade Heavy Excavation, expects to screen about 1,000 yards of rock from the arena dirt. He uses a massive forty-foot long screening machine worth a quarter of a million dollars.
With a loader, Lindsay or his co-worker, Charles Hunter, transfers five yards of dirt at a time into a 12-foot high hopper that feeds the load onto a conveyor belt, rolling dirt and “bones” (as rock is called in the industry) into a screen bed.
The screen bed shakes and rattles like a spin cycle of a gargantuan washing machine, ejecting large rock onto secondary belts to be dumped off the sides, then spewing beautiful, dark soil out the other end. This soil will be returned to the arena, along with whatever amount of added soil is needed to restore the arena level.
The key to preventing deeper bones from rising in the future is 4,500 square feet of landscape fabric rolled in overlapping layers across the arena. This fabric is a material separator used in heavy construction to stabilize ground. “At that depth, the fabric will last longer than most of our lifetimes,” said Lindsay, “and it has been working well in arenas to control rock invasion.”
After a section of fabric is rolled over the arena, it is staked and then covered with the renewed soil. Drainage is good with this process.
“Over the last five years, we have done a tremendous amount of improvement of the rodeo grounds,” said John Leavitt, arena director. “This rejuvenation of the arena will improve footing substantially. Our contestants will benefit from this in both timed and rough stock events. They will be very happy.”
The Sisters PRCA Rodeo will feature four performances on June 11-13. Tickets 541-549-0121, www.sistersrodeo.com.
Contact: Bonnie Malone, Sisters Rodeo Association 541-549-7142. Terri Mills, Zerbin Mills Marketing 541-385-7400.