Yucca Valley, California, is a town of about 25,000 people located on California Route 62 (aka The 29 Palms Highway). Neighboring towns are Morongo Valley, Joshua Tree, Yucca Mesa, Pioneertown, Landers, Flamingo Heights, Johnson Valley, and Twentynine Palms. The two major economic stimulators in the area are Joshua Tree National Park and the marine base outside Twentynine Palms. Many people who live here commute down to the Palm Springs metro area about 40 minutes south. Yucca Valley is built up mostly against the highway, with supermarkets, a movie theater, coffeeshops (local and Starbucks), restaurants(local and chain), and a few big box stores. Driving up Route 247 (aka Old Woman Springs Rd) you can get a picture of what desert towns used to look like before four lane highways and big commerce.
One of the beautiful parts about living in a desert town is that the relatively untrammeled desert exists in close range. Yucca Valley borders Joshua Tree National Park, most of which is designated wilderness. Joshua Tree is an excellent place to take up rock climbing or get into the wilderness. There are 69 designated wilderness areas under the BLM’s management, several are a short drive from Yucca Valley: Sheephole Mountains, Cleghorn Mountains, Big Morongo, Bighorn Mountains, San Gorgonio. Just off the highway in Morongo Valley is the Big Morongo Preserve, a BLM-managed oasis where water flowing underground down from the mountains gets close or breaks the surface. It’s a world-renowned bird-watching spot. You will be close the Wildlands Conservancy Preserves as well. They are a non-profit land manager and we have a good working relationship with them. Whitewater Preserve has a trail that connects to the Pacific Crest Trail, following the Whitewater River. There is a thriving, if strange, artistic community in the desert, and a collection of people who believe in extraterrestrial contact.
The mission of the California Desert District (CDD) of the Bureau of Land Management is to protect the natural, historic, recreational and economic riches of the beautiful California Desert for generations to come. California is a state wealthy with resources and natural beauty, but this beauty can quickly disappear if not properly taken care of. The California Desert District is responsible for protecting and preserving nearly 11 million acres of California’s natural heritage.
In 1976, The United States Congress created the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA), which covers nearly one quarter of the State. As one of the government’s primary authorities for the management of public lands, the Bureau of Land Management - through the California Desert District - acts as steward for 10.4 million acres of this 26 million acre preserve. In an effort to provide the most benefit to the most people, while preserving one of the west’s most rugged and awe inspiring landscapes, the CDD developed a balanced, multiple-use plan to act as a guide for the management of this vast expanse of land. The plan, completed in 1980 with the help of the public, divides the desert into multiple-use classes. These classes were created in order to define areas of in critical need of protection, while allowing for the use and development of less-vital swaths of desert.
In addition to the lands under the CDCA, the California Desert District also manages 300,000 acres of scattered parcels in Kern, Inyo, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Imperial and San Diego counties. The district is divided into five resource areas, governed by field offices in Ridgecrest, Palm Springs/South Coast, El Centro, Barstow and Needles. The CDD currently has over 200 full time employees.
- via BLM, CDD website (http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/cdd/about_cdd.html)
On November 19, the seventeen AmeriCorps members of SCA Massachusetts went to the Abbott School in Florida, MA, to teach environmental education and help with school service projects.
The corps members worked with students from preschool to eighth grade. To help the students think about the upcoming holiday, the younger students had the opportunity to dress up like a turkey, sample fall foods that come from plants, act out a story, and create drawings of the things for which they are thankful. Fourth and fifth grade students worked with corps members to put the school garden to bed for winter, covering it with straw. Sixth through eighth grade students built a compost bin and raised garden beds for future school gardening.
As trail season is coming to a close, so are Cara and Joe's term of service with the SCA. We say farewell to them in early December as they head back to their respective homes.
Sustainable Trail Guide
The Sustainable Trail Guide is making progress, with alternatives to pesticides, herbicides and native and invasive species all included in the information.
~Michelle and Joe
Earlier in the month, the Trail Town Outreach Corps presented to Allegheny Trail Alliance about our projects over the last several months. We talked about all the events and beautification efforts in all of the towns as well as projects like the Trail Town Ice Cream and the Trail Counts on the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.
It’s Been a Good Year
-The year is winding down, and so too have most trail-related activities. Trail counts are now finished for the year! Over the span of six months, TTOC spent a total of 78 hours collecting data. Throughout the trail season, we ran into some obstacles that inhibited us from having accurate data, moisture being the main culprit. However, Spiders and the occasional black bear weren’t able to deter us from working on this valuable project! It will interesting to see the results of the end of the year trail use report, considering that a lot of our trail counter data in very inaccurate. Hopefully we can figure out how to make the trail counters work better so that this is something that we are able to combat next year.
Bike Shop List
-An ongoing project that I recently began working on is a bike shop directory. I have been collecting data into a spreadsheet, of bike shops in PA, as well as other surrounding states. The idea of this list is to contact all bike shops, regionally, to provide information about the GAP. Although most avid bikers in this region most likely know about the GAP, it is still important to advertise because it’s a great recreational resource!
-Another ongoing project that I recently began is the GAP SBN and Trail Town Program (TTP) blogs. I am happy to report that these blogs are up and running again, and will be released more frequently; GAP SBN once a month and TTP twice a month.
What do you get when you combine sustainability, small businesses, and the Great Allegheny Passage trail? The Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network, of course! What makes this network so special is that it focuses on sustainable solutions for small businesses.
To celebrate a year of success with the GAP SBN, the Trail Town Outreach Corps (TTOC) held a networking event for members on November 7, at the Connellsville B&B.
The event featured a presentation from Jim and Patty Bell, residential solar power consumers. Their presentation discussed solar energy, covering the mechanics behind solar photovoltaic, as well as providing examples of the benefits that solar panels provide. Many details about solar panels were covered, including purchasing costs, installation costs, electric bill costs vs. solar costs, grants, and tax incentive programs for solar power. In general, green energy can be both a controversial and unchartered realm for many residential and business owners, but the Bell’s presentation was accepted by all, opening up positive discussion for all attendees.
The GAP SBN has had many successes in 2012, ranging from business reassessments to the construction of a sustainable supplier guide. Topping the season off with the networking event allowed member businesses to appreciate this year’s achievements while also providing an arena to discuss and swap sustainable practices between individual businesses.
Here’s to 2012!
2012 has been wonderful and we are looking forward to a productive winter
Rachael and I will be staying with the Trail Town Outreach Corps until April. Projects we will be working on include the Sustainable Trail Guide, the Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network blog, and the Rockwood bike loop.
The year is winding down for the Trail Town Outreach Corps as the holidays become closer.
The West Newton Walking tour has been completed. The tour will take visitors on a self-guided 1-mile walk through West Newton, and include stops at historical and significant downtown structures.
This month in Connellsville we cleaned up the armory plot, preparing it for next year’s community gardens. We removed withered produce and their roots, weeds, and turned the soil over. Then we spread wheat cover crop over the garden beds to keep the soil nutrients from being blown away or depleted with weather extremes.
In addition, we participated in the first Stakeholder meeting for the Connellsville Bicycle and Pedestrian plan which is being donated to the city by Aspect Design. This exciting project will potentially make Connellsville one of the most bicycle and pedestrian friendly town in Pennsylvania by connecting the neighborhoods with the downtown and other amenities, and giving trail users and community members alike a safe way to travel via bicycle or by foot.
~ Joe Crumbley
The Adopt-A-Bioswale project is coming along, with a total of twelve signs already made. With the assertive business mindset that the town has where they’re being implemented, when others business owners see what they’re not already partaking in they’re bound to gain interest. The project has had a lot of setbacks, but it’s been progressing exponentially in the past two months when the physical signs have gained popularity within the town.
On Friday 11/2 we hosted a bioswale cleanup. This was one last chance to maintain the bioswales before the cold winter sets in.
The Ohiopyle Trail Town Reassessment took place on Tuesday 11/13. This reassessment had the highest number of participants so far. This assessment generated some very productive discussion following the town walk-through.
~ Joe Crumbley and Cara Madden
In November, Confluence had the Most Awesome Bake Sale and Trail Town Quilt Show on Saturday, the 17th at the Creative Arts Center. The following weekend was Light Up Night at the gazebo in the central square. Upcoming events include Bah Humbug: Inside a Dicken’s Classic on December 8 and the New Year’s Sock Hop on December 29 – both events take place at the Confluence Creative Arts Center.
~ Michelle Rapp
Rockwood’s bike loop is about ½ way complete! I have designed the map of the loop, road signs, and rack cards. I still have to contact a sign company to order the signs, as well as deliver the signs for installation. Once this project done it will be a great achievement for the town, as well as for SCA Trail Town!
Meyersdale had its annual Light Up Night celebration 11/24, to help kick off the holiday season!
The Meyersdale Trail Town reassessment was held 11/28 at the Levi Deal Mansion B&B. The turnout was great, allowing for detailed discussion about potential improvements that can be made in and around town.
After months of planning, attending meetings, and planning some more, the sugar maple tree planting will finally be complete! The trees were planted 11/29, a little later than we had initially planned, but nevertheless, the trees are finally in the ground; a great success! TTOC, along with project partners Jan and Michael, owners of the Levi Deal B&B, came out to help spread mulch and put the final touches on the landscape.