Photos and text by Stuart Wilkins, 2011 – 2012 SCA Golden Valley Wilderness team of the Desert Restoration Corps (DRC.) The DRC works with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) throughout the California Desert District facilitating the processes of natural regrowth of thousands and thousands of acres of desert habitat. This is the group’s last hitch - backcountry work stint - of the season.
Hitch 14 was a lot of things for our crew; the last hitch of our season, another Allcorps, and a farewell to the areas of the Mojave we have come to know so well. The work load seemed lighter and the presence of the other crews for most of hitch made the atmosphere around camp buzz with energy. Our first two days had us out in Golden Valley and Grass Valley while the rest of hitch centered on preparation for Allcorps in the Jawbone area. Perfect weather combined with the comrardery that the entire DRC brings out when we are all together made for a most excellent last stint in the Desert.
Fittingly the first day had us driving to Grass Valley for some monitoring and fencing to say farewell to tasks we spent a majority of the season on. The second day had us split up into two groups, one went into Grass Valley and one went into Golden Valley to do some GPS surveying of plant populations in certain areas of the wilderness for California Fish and Game. Armed with our Trimbles and plenty of water, we set out on a stress free day hiking between different regions of the wilderness to find the plants that were listed in the areas. The day was perfect and gave us quality time to say goodbye to our beloved wilderness.
This led us to Allcorps in Jawbone, a mass DRC gathering in the beautiful Southern Sierra Nevada hosted by our dear friends from the Jawbone crew. The work project was largely restoration based with a few bollarding side projects in there as well. By this point in the season we were all highly skilled dead plant builders so those incursions did not stand a chance. We knocked them out with about half a day to spare and they looked incredible!
The Allcorps experience was fabulous. We were showered with gifts from the BLM and the SCA for our hard work all season long. Each day people brought us goodies like ice and fruit and gatorade which kept spirits up through the heat. The evening entertainment was also quite engaging. For starters there was the super moon which was approximately 14% larger than a regular full moon according to scientists. Then there were games and ice cream and even a very nice slideshow recapping the season through each crew’s photos. There was also a time for recognizing how outstanding the program has been to us and each individual was recognized for unique traits they brought to the crew dynamic.
Now it finally seems like the end. We knew this was coming but the feeling doesn’t actually hit you until there are no more Trimble points to take or t-posts to pound or creosotes to build. From here we go our separate ways, embark on new adventures, and change other people’s lives.
DRC: It has been phenomenal, we have grown in ways we never thought we would have. This is a very special group of people to have been a part of, and all of us were brought here to do a very special job. From the countless stars at night to the bitter cold winds, from the dirty faces to the fruit salad morning, from seeing every sunrise and sunset to going to bed before 6pm; We will miss it all, but all of us will be taking some of it with us too.
With the fondest of farewells we say goodbye Golden and Grass Valley, and goodbye DRC.
The numbers are impressive.
More than 1,545 miles of trail inventoried on 234 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service units, most of them national wildlife refuges. More than 142,000 trail feature points collected. More than 15,400 volunteer hours logged. More than $48,000 in AmeriCorp education credits earned. Almost 189,000 air miles and 90,000 terrestrial miles traveled in 49 states and Puerto Rico. All in 10 months.
That’s what the 10 Student Conservation Association interns and two SCA staff members who made up the Service National Trails Inventory Project team did last year.
The ambitious project, part of a multi–year effort to inventory and assess trails, was a great service to the National Wildlife Refuge System. ...read more
Hundreds of SCA volunteers, members, alumni and staff from across the country headed outdoors on Saturday, April 21st to get their hands dirty working for the planet Volunteers planted trees, removed invasive species, cleared trails, picked up trash and did a number of other tasks contributing to the preservation of parks and green spaces in their local communities.
SCA DC Earth Day
In coordination with the National Park Service and the Kenilworth Aquatic Garden Friends group, SCA Earth Day in DC rallied 110 volunteers, plus an additional 60 with the Kenilworth Friends Group. Volunteers planted 20 trees, removed close to 750 sq ft of invasive species, picked up tons of trash and helped maintain trails in honor of Earth Day 2012. Alumni, current students, summer conservation crew applicants, families and friends came out on a beautiful day to help serve and make a difference in their community! SCA DC’s event was a huge success.
SCA Detroit Earth Day
SCA Detroit and the Belle Isle Conservancy joined forces for an Earth Day event on Belle Isle Park. Over 100 volunteers of all ages took to the forest along Oakway Blvd to remove invasive honeysuckle plants from the beautiful old growth forest. Volunteers worked in teams using hand saws and loppers to remove the invasive plants and pick up garbage. Returning crew members from SCA’s Detroit Conservation Leadership Corps lead the work groups and really stepped up to showcase the skills and the expertise they’d cultivated over the past years with the SCA in Detroit.
SCA Houston Earth Day
SCA Houston had a diverse group of about 45 volunteers at Sheldon Lake State Park, including SCA School Year Crew members and alumni, current and former interns, ARAMARK and Southwest Airline partners, Houston Community College students and members of the Sharpstown High School Ecology Club. Volunteers got to work in the coastal prairie, planting over 2,000 native prairie plants covering about 4 acres of prairie with little and big bluestem, grama grass and Texas coneflower. After the volunteer event, the School Year Crews stuck around the park, learned and practiced archery, were led on an interpretive tour of the park, and even camped out overnight.
SCA Oakland Earth Day
Sixty SCA Oakland volunteers joined the Friends of Sausal Creek at Dimond Park along with about 150 others including Oakland's Mayor Jean Quan. Volunteers fanned out along the creek to remove invasive plants, mostly Himalayan blackberry. At one site above the creek, a group cleared out over 350 sqft of blackberry in order to help restore the bank from erosion. Other volunteers picked up trash along the creek, spread mulch and planted native plants in the forest. It was the warmest day of the season yet, but volunteers didn't mind getting dirty and sweaty at work for the planet.
SCA Philadelphia Earth Day:
About 200 community volunteers showed up to the SCA Philly Earth Day event, including alumni, potential new students and Aramark volunteers. Everyone participated in collecting trash and debris from Darby Creek and surrounding areas. Two-hundred and fifty (250) cubic yards of cleanup were collected. This equates to about 9 tons of trash and 3 full dumpsters of random trash items, including pieces of metal, bottles, cans, tires, a toy big wheels, bowling balls and many other random trash items not typically found at local community parks.
SCA Pittsburgh Earth Day
Despite rain and cold, 47 volunteers, high school crew members, crew leaders, and staff attended SCA Pittsburgh’s 2012 Earth Day event in the North Side’s Riverview Park. They focused on removing invasive garlic mustard, knotweed, and litter from the trails and hill sides around Riverview Park’s Valley Refuge area. After 141 collective service hours, the crews removed 134 bags of invasive plants and litter, as well as 4 tires. Afterward, they enjoyed good food and a warm fire at the park’s Valley Refuge Picnic Shelter.
Can't make it to one of our Earth Day events? Or perhaps you are attending an event but you still want other ways to support SCA. Thanks to our partners American Eagle Outfitters and Zipcar, now you can. Both partners have special Earth Week promotions to benefit SCA. So, go ahead buy jeans or sign up for a Zipcar, you'll be supporting the planet!
For every pair of jeans sold between 4.20-4.22, American Eagle Outfitters will donate $1 to The Student Conservation Association to help plant trees in National Parks & Forests (up to $25,000). You can buy jeans online or at the stores. Buy jeans. Plant a tree!
The grass can be greener everywhere. Sign up for a Zipcar between 4.16 - 4.23 and Zipcar will donate $5 to SCA. You will become a Zipcar member for $50 and automatically receive a $5 Driving Credit. Plus, you'll be minimizing your carbon footprint and support youth in conservation. Make sure to use the promo code: EARTH2012PITT. So go ahead, drive a (Zip)car.
Support Earth Week and SCA, thanks to our partners:
Hundreds of college-aged students spent their spring breaks making a difference this April. Instead of spending their Spring Breaks sitting by the beaches, they spent their vacations working for the planet and making a difference in National Parks across the country. The videos we are watching this week, capture the impact that NPS Academy had on 60 college-aged students. Check 'em out.
NPS Academy @ Great Smoky Mountains:
As part of the first phase of the NPS Academy, 30 diverse college-aged students from across the country came together at Great Smoky Mountains to learn about career opportunities with the National Parks Service. This is their story.
NPS Academy @ Grand Tetons:
Another 30 students came together at Grand Tetons National Park. They gained first-hand knowledge about the park, potential career development opportunties and concrete next steps they can take to promote their future.