The Hoover Wilderness is home to jagged granite peaks, alpine lakes, and high passes in a 128,000 acre designated wilderness area that lies to the East of Yosemite National Park in California. The Hoover is managed by the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Inyo National Forest, and we'll be working entirely in the H-T section.
The Hoover is largely high elevation alpine environments. Bridgeport will serve as our base at 6500 feet, with the mountains rising dramatically from there. Temperatures in the area can range from very warm, especially when the high altitude sun is out, to chilly at night.
We're a six person trail crew working in the area for twelve weeks through this summer. We'll be working to open up the trails on the district, putting in a lot of miles to clear downfall that has accumulated over the past few years while stopping to focus on a few of the trickier spots.
We'll be working in Jeffrey Pine, Pinyon Pine, and Juniper forests at lower elevations, shifting to Ponderosa Pine, Aspen, and Fir forests a little higher, and then finally shifting to a more rugged alpine environment at even higher elevations. We'll be sharing the area with black bears, mountain lions, deer, and marmots among others.
The Kentucky Native Plant Corps will be working in the Mammoth Cave National Park and several surrounding state parks and nature preserves. Mammoth Cave National Park is located in the heart of Kentucky’s South-Central karst, an extensive system of subterranean drainage basins covering more than 400 square miles. Atop this labyrinth, lies a biologically diverse ecosystem inextricably interlinked with the ecosystems underground. A unique set of physiographic influences and diverse habitat types led to the area being designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1990. The park was also named as a World Heritage Site in 1981.
Mammoth Cave was established as a national park in 1941 but evidence suggests that the earliest human exploration of the cave occurred more than 4000 years ago! These aboriginal explorers probed the depths of the cave for salt and mineral deposits. The true exploration of the caves began in earnest with their rediscovered in the late 18th century. In 1926 only 40 miles of passageway had been mapped. As survey techniques improved many caves, believed to be separate, were found to be connected and today Mammoth Cave is recognized internationally as the longest cave system in the entire world. The cave system, measuring over 350 miles long, is three times longer than any other known cave. Even if the second and third longest caves were connected together Mammoth would still be longer with over a hundred miles to spare!
Aside from this staggering feature, the botanical diversity alone is deserving of international attention. The park, encompassing merely 53,000 surface acres, contains more than 1,300 flowering species; rivaling that of the Great Smoky Mountains in one tenth the acreage. The South-Central region of Kentucky is located in multiple transitional zones. To the west lie open grasslands and drier oak-hickory forests and to the east lie moist mixed mesophytic forests. The climate is also influenced jointly by the warmer sub-tropical regions to the south and the colder climates to the north. Many species found within the park, and its surrounding areas, are at the northern, southern, eastern, and western limits of their natural range. A wide variety of habitats further support differing plant communities. These include: dry upland flats and sandstone-capped ridges, limestone exposed slopes, ravines and karst valleys, broad alluvial bottoms along the Green River, gorge-like hemlock ravines, deep sinks with exposed subterranean streams, old-growth timber, successional growth forests, barrens and savannah habitats, and wetlands, including ponds, forest swamps, springs, seasonal wet woodlands, and cobble bars and banks along the Green River.
Botanical surveys in the park have found 25 species listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern by Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. Mammoth Cave National Park is a vital refuge for the protection of plant communities and individual species in danger. This mosaic of habitats and diversity of forests types and grasslands is, unfortunately, just as attractive to a wide variety of introduced plants. The Student Conservation Association, in close cooperation with the National Park Service and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, will be working diligently to help monitor and control the spread of these invasive exotic plants. These plants include Japanese honeysuckle, garlic mustard, kudzu, Nepalese browntop, tree-of-heaven, oriental bittersweet, non-native wisterias, and paulownia. These species out-compete native species and, behind habitat destruction, are the single greatest threats to biodiversity.
The C&O Canal National Historic Park consists of roughly 184 miles of "towpath" and canal that runs alongside the Potomac River in the state of Maryland. The idea and construction of the canal began in 1828 with the hopes to expand commerce from the Potomac Valley to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Due to flooding and lack of money, construction of the canal was not completed until 1850 and only reached to Cumberland, Maryland. From 1836 until about 1924, the canal was used mainly to transport coal from the Alleghany mountains to Washington, D.C. The "towpath" is a trail directly adjacent (on the Maryland side) to the canal, where the canal boats were pulled by mules.
A term often heard around the area is "canal people". During the 19th century, families would work and live on canal boats, steering and maintaining the boat, as well as leading the mules along the towpath. It is a fascinating history that is well worth reading about. Following this link will take you to the C&O Canal NHP home page. http://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm
Today, the towpath runs from Georgetown in Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland and can be used by the public for hiking and biking along the canal.
Our team will be based out of Oldtown, Maryland, nestled among the Alleghany Mountains on the borders of Maryland and West Virginia. We will be living in a historic home from circa 1865 on park service property, giving the park a sense of presence and keeping the house alive.
During the days we will be working along the canal and towpath to remove harmful vegetation from historic structures, such as locks, lock houses, aqueducts, damns and tunnels, to save their integrity and keep them from deteriorating. It is a wonderful chance for us to conserve history while learning about it at the same time.
If you are interested in learning more about canal structures and how it was operated, take a look at these links.
The Umatilla National Forest, located in the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon, covers 1.4 million acres of diverse landscapes and plant communities. The Forest has some mountainous terrain, but most of the Forest consists of v-shaped valleys separated by narrow ridges or plateaus.
The landscape also includes heavily timbered slopes, grassland ridges and benches, and bold basalt outcroppings. Elevation range from 1,600 to 8,000 feet above sea level. Changes in weather are common, but summers are generally warm and dry with cool evenings. Cold, snowy winters and mild temperatures during spring and fall can be expected.
From rolling benchlands to the granite outcrops of the Greenhorn Mountains, the rugged North Forest John Day Wilderness provides diverse landscapes. Much of the wilderness is composed of gentle benchlands and tablelands; the remaining of steep ridges and alpine lake basins. A continuous vegetative canopy covers most of the land, including dense virgin stands of conifer species like Douglas-fir, white fir, western larch and lodgepole pine.
This wilderness, which is broken into four segments and traverses two national forests, is known for its big game and fish habitat. Headwaters of the Wild and Scenic North Fork John Day River is in this wilderness, accounting for many miles of steelhead and trout habitat. Dominant wildlife species are elk, deer and some bear. Many small game and nongame species also inhabit the area, as do mountain goats.
Over 100 miles of trails serve both hikers and horseback riders where the lay of the land calls for long-distance trips with many elevation changes.